Friday, August 1, 2008

An unpleasant experiment

Posted By on Fri, Aug 1, 2008 at 3:13 PM

green-sprout-starbucks.jpg

Here's yesterday's lunch -- bean sprouts wrapped in tofu skin from the Green Sprout. I've written about this dish before and it looks much better not compressed into a take-out container.

Why am I eating this? Wayne and I decided to experiment with not eating meat for a week. Part of the experiment is to keep within our normal dining zones in Grant Park, Midtown and Little Five Points. It's been a roller-coaster ride, to say the least.

Monday night, I stopped at Whole Foods and bought extra-firm tofu, which I sauteed and combined with kim chi, an over-priced mild version I also found at the grocery. I also added some "succotash" to the dish. It was surprisingly good.

It's been mainly downhill ever since. I love the Standard, but the "vegetable burger" I ate there was one of the most unpleasant things I've tasted in months. It was dry, sandwiched in a dry bun and had the usual harsh seasoning that typifies so much vegetarian cuisine.

I couldn't eat but a few bites of the thing. I was so embarrassed to eat so little of it that I hid the leftovers under my napkin.

We also hit Ali Baba's in Little Five Points. They had no air conditioning and it was suffocatingly hot on their patio, too. So we took home wraps made with falafel and various vegetable salads. They were decent, but left me hungry.

I've mainly been eating some cheese and roasted vegetables for lunch.

I've been struck by a couple of things in this experiment, which has included visits to a few other restaurants:

It's not that easy to find decent vegetarian cooking in the average meat-serving restaurant. Unless I drive to Decatur or Buford Highway for Indian food or go to Dynamic Dish on Edgewood Ave., I'm stuck with the average restaurant's vegetarian offerings, which are usually dull afterthoughts, over-seasoned with boredom.

I don't feel the least bit healthy eating this way, even allowing myself eggs and cheese. Maybe that changes with time. What is clear is that to eat well -- by which I refer to taste and health -- you have to do a lot of planning.

Also, the experiment is teaching me that I need to be a lot more conscious in my usual eating.

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