It’s been a long road for me and some of my friends. Manchego. Emmanthaler. Sweet, sweet Gouda. But we’re at a crossroads. A fork in the road. A late-twenties-where-do-we-go-from-here moment.
I’ve clung to cheese since becoming a committed vegetarian four years ago as the answer to making my food gourmet. While I was happy to omit chicken from my chopped green salad, I couldn’t resist throwing in a handful of Oregonzola crumbles. Why wouldn’t I?
As the years have passed, two things have remained consistent for Joe (he’s my husband) and me. First, we’re poor. We are both doggedly committed to our art (he’s a designer and musician, I’m a writer and dabbler in creative-weirdness), and that doesn’t pay us. But we’re happy. Happy to be together and to be inspired. Secondly, and most importantly to the concern of this blog, we love food. I’m not kidding you. We LOVE food. Good food. Making it, eating it, hunting for it, sniffing it, reading about it. We’ll spend what little cash we have on a bottle of great olive oil without a second glance.
Since we stopped eating meat years ago, we’ve dabbled in veganism — a lifestyle that we think fits with our health and ethical standards. But despite it’s benefits, veganism hasn’t stuck for us. Joe’s got arthritis — and it’s proven that dairy is terrible for him. I’m an animal freak. Lessening my impact on the slaughter of animals is a top priority to me — be it the shoes I wear, the food I eat, the stores I support. Veganism, to me, is a way of eating more consciously. I even co-organize a group called the Spokane Vegans. It’s a collective of conscious eaters (veg*ns, we call them), but it’s tough for me to be a part of that group and feel morally right about going home and hogging out on a log of Tillamook.
In my experience, food is made gourmet because of cheese. I cook vegan as much as possible with the help of wonderful vegan gurus like Sarah Kramer, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. But their chilis and sandwiches and cupcakes are hardly what I consider gourmet.
Now, I’ll confess, I got the idea for this blog after seeing the food porny Julie & Julia on my birthday. While watching her boil lobsters and de-bone ducks was gross, I thoroughly enjoyed the concept of exploring yourself through food. And I felt called to action, especially because Julie Powell started her blog on my birthday (Aug. 13) and that Julia Child died on my birthday. Could this to be a sign? Probably not. But whatever.
I came across a beautiful book called Great Chefs Cook Vegan by Linda Long recently, and snatched it right up. It’s a hardcover cookbook of hardcore gourmet porn. Gazpachos and brulees and confits of all shapes and sizes and colors. Breaded tofus lay spreadeagle on blankets of risotto and quinoa. It is mouth-wateringly gourmet — and there’s not a crumble of goat cheese or a sliver of parmesan in sight.
If this is the bible of vegan gourmet, I believe it can prove to me that vegan food — no cheese — is my destiny. If I can teach myself to prepare the crème de la crème of vegan food, then I’m sold. Veganism is for me. I can leave my cheese friends behind.
Like Julie Powell, I’m going to cook through the entire book — front to back. If I can cook the best I ever have without a crumb of fromage, I’m sold. I’ll be vegan, one hundred percent. My cheese is gone from the fridge. And it’ll stay that way until I’m finished with this project. I’ll post about my quest for weird ingredients (anyone know of a place to buy kokum in Spokane? What is that?) and weirder appliances (at some point I’m going to need a cotton candy machine). I’ll post how everything tastes, of course, and all the rest of my veganly pursuits in my very non-vegan-friendly city.
So until I’m done with this book and maybe forever: farewell, fromage. It’s been real.