The “raw food” phenomenon came up recently when I was hanging out with friends at a local coffeehouse. We bantered back and forth a bit on the subject before my friends departed.
As they left, this earnestly young girl appeared at my table and planted herself in the seat next to me.
“I heard you talking about raw food,” she said, “I’m going to a raw food party at a friend’s house tonight. Are you going?”
“What, pray tell, does one eat at such a party” I asked, “other than salad, I mean?”
“Well,” she replied, “there’s soup.”
“What kind of soup?”
“It’s made from raw vegetables in a blender. We blend it into soup.”
“Is that what they’re calling ‘soup’ these days,” I asked, “because, back in my day, we called that ‘crap’.”
Nonplussed, in an earnest sort of way, she continued, “People bring a lot of different things. You can bring anything.”
“Can I bring a hot-plate?” I said.
She laughed a gentle little laugh and said no; patiently explaining that nothing served at a raw food party was cooked.
“So can I assume Steak Tartar will be served?” I replied.
“No,” she giggled, “you can assume most everybody, if not everybody, there is a vegetarian.”
“How long have you been a vegetarian yourself and why did you become one?” I inquired.
“I started about three years ago. I was eating a lot of ham at the time and I was getting sick. So I stopped eating meat altogether.”
“I’m not too fond of ham myself,” I told her, “but it sure tastes great with eggs and hash browns. So you’ve got to give ham props for that.”
We spoke for a few more minutes about the raw food experience – and how much healthier she was feeling these days – until, suddenly, she bolted from the table and literally ran out the door, saying, “I’ve got to go now.”
She was a cute girl but, as she told me herself, she doesn’t eat meat. No meat of any kind will ever pass her lips. So, obviously, I’ll never be dating her. I prefer a woman who swallows a bit of meat from time to time.
But all this got me to thinking and I soon found myself checking the local phone book for the nearest raw food vegetarian restaurant. Only one was to be found – its mission (as stated on the menu when I visited) is “to make fresh, organic, living vegan foods more accessible by providing a central meeting place for like-minded individuals to gather and enjoy fine, live cuisine.”
That’s sure saying a mouthful.
I dragged a fellow blogger, Liz of Heart Failure fame, with me because I know she always enjoys a good shenanigan.
The café was teeming with Rastafarian White Boys with dreads akimbo and Birkenstock-clad girls giving that wild eyed stare – all with convictions matched only by body odor.
It was a feeding frenzy the likes of which had not been since the Last Supper or a Spielberg shark movie circa 1977 – but done up vegan style – as these granola monkeys gnawed their way through metaphorical bamboo cages built on lifestyle alone.
It was an awesome – no, make that rawsome – sight to behold!
I found this bunch not only full of fresh leafy goodness but also dew-eyed dreams of a better tomorrow. Now don’t get me wrong, the world of butterflies and rainbows is all well and good when you’re really really high on marijuana – or “ganja” as the Rastafarian white boy calls it (cuz he’s just keeping it real, yo!) – but eventually you’re going to come crashing down to Planet Earth. You’re going to find yourself amongst the meth freaks and pill poppers and the usual zoo critters in suits doing everything they can, despite their neurosis-driven rage and fear, to keep it together.
And in that world, butterflies and rainbows don’t mean shit.
My dining companion and I started our raw meal with the “live” soup of the day. It was a yellow squash confection mixed in a blender with a variety of unnamed spices until pureed to a consistency just this side of sludge. We both remarked that it tasted vaguely familiar but neither of us could put our finger on what exactly that taste was.
Needless to say if the soup was heated up and poured over rice and Tandoori chicken it would be very much at home in any decent Indian food restaurant. That was the taste we couldn’t place.
We passed on the so-called pizza – described on the menu as being built upon a ‘crawst’ foundation of sunflower and pumpkin seeds, zucchini, celery and Celtic sea salt with fresh veggies – because I’m hardly willing to pay nine dollars for a real pizza, the kind with dough and cheese and a steaming heap of meat, much less some vegan’s utopian ideal of what a pizza should be.
Nor do I eat anything with ‘crawst’ in it – on principle alone.
I had the tomato and cucumber salad with an olive oil and lemon juice dressing. It wasn’t half bad but I was concerned whether or not the vegetables were organically grown – until I found a cucumber rind in my salad with a sticker still on it which read: Nature’s Nectar – Certified Organic.
I ate the paper sticker so I’d at least get some fiber in my diet.
My dining companion had the mixed greens salad and summed up her opinion of it nicely when she commented, “This is probably the worst salad I’ve ever had.”
I tasted a forkful and quickly knew that washing greens just isn’t the raw food way.
It was then I realized that the word organic is just a shorter way of saying, “tastes like dirt.”
We left the café shortly thereafter and on the way home, some twenty minutes later, my dining companion commented, “I’m still tasting grit.”
To wash the grit down we then drove through a fast food restaurant and both ordered a big greasy cheeseburger. Our arteries were eternally grateful.
The cheeseburger got me riled and I was soon shouting, “I can kick any vegetarian’s ass with one arm tied behind my back! I am strong! I am carnivore, hear me roar!”
The blood was pumping hot through my veins and, at that moment, I felt alive and so very raw.