Friday, March 24, 2006

TJ ver 6.0

Japanese concept: meat is a side dish.
American (especially Southern) concept: meat is the meal.

Treating meat as a side dish is definitely a new concept for me. For those of you new to the site / not paying attention / suffering from a life-threatening case of ADD, I was born and raised in the South. Okay, technically I was born in Kentucky, but they have a tooth to IQ ratio we find acceptable, so they count. Anyway, we Southerners are inherently superior to all other Americans for several reasons:
1) We don’t talk as funny as alla y’all.
2) Many of us don’t feel the need to attend all four years of high school.
3) This is the birthplace of Dale Earnhardt, Elvis Presley, and Jesus.
4) In the second fattest country in the world, we lead the way!
5) In fact, if it wasn’t for us, the rest of you peacenik tofu-loving Yankee hippies might well let our country slip into third or fourth place, dangerously close to those emaciated French and Italians.
6) You’re welcome.

Around here, no meal is complete unless it includes dead animal flesh; in fact, meals are planned around the meat. When you ask “What’s for dinner?” you’ll never hear rice or corn given as the answer. Vegetables and grains are optional and must be customized according to the cooked carcass. Fried chicken? Serve with mashed potatoes and gravy if hot, or garnish with potato salad if eating a picnic lunch. Country fried steak? That’s a mashed potatoes with gravy and fried okra meal if I ever saw one. Catfish? Hush puppies and fries.

I just realized that, without even trying, I’ve been eating mostly vegetarian foods this week. Last night I had miso soup with tofu and green onions and a couple of shrimp gyoza (pot stickers) on the side. I was going to have a little rice on the side as well, but I just tossed it in with the soup instead of reheating it and topped it with a little shichimi togarashi (seven flavor pepper). It was pretty good, but I forgot to add the hon-dashi for a little fishy goodness. D’oh (or however you say that in Japanese).

Southern cuisine does not do vegetarian foods with a couple of rare exceptions.
1) For an in-between meal nosh, you can have a healthy vegan non-meat snack such as fried pork rinds or deviled eggs (made with mayo) or mozzarella cheese sticks breaded and deep fried and dipped in ranch dressing.
2) On very rare occasions, it is acceptable to have a vegetarian meal comprised of battered and fried okra, cornbread (typically made with lard, but my mother used vegetable shortening as a healthful substitute) made with buttermilk and slathered with real butter, green beans or collard greens cooked with salt pork or fatback, and black-eyed peas seasoned with more pork. Of course, if you parents want to feed your kids this healthy meal, you’d better have plenty of ice cream and peach cobbler afterwards to satisfy their craving for unhealthy foods.

A couple of other things I’ve learned:
1) The basic ingredients blend really well (tofu, miso soup, soy soup base, rice, green onions, etc.) so you can mix and match for a little variety. Basic Japanese cooking is the ultimate home cooking for drunks – just toss a little of everything in a pot, and cook (but briefly – more on that another time).
2) What’s for breakfast? Leftovers. Instead of having those dried packages of noodles, I just make a little extra at nights and reheat it in the morning. It all reheats well. When reheating soups, it’s good to toss the rice in just before sticking it in the microwave (although soaking rice in a soup base overnight will cause it to bloat and become mushy).

Tonight I think I’ll try a variation on the hot soba recipe by adding some tofu. Then I’ll go out and step on a woodchuck. Just because I’m eating vegan doesn’t mean I should mess with the balance of nature by letting a bunch of useless fuzzy animals live.


Mr Q said...

I like the reality of the post and the fact that no apologies were made. The only problem is that now I'm starving like a siberian tiger in winter.

Kerry said...

I dont like eating things I can't pronounce. I just tried a Gyro this past week... and was taught it's not a JI-ROW, but a HE-ROW. That's about as weird as I get. I'm a steak and potatoes girl! ;)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and tell anyone you know that's veggie, "yer takin' the food out of the fukn animals yer tryin' to save"!
Jeff (upstate NY, yes we have have 'necks up here, too. We also have hills, trees, lakes, and lots of critters to shoot and eat!)

fatty ~ said...

i think if more westerns took on our eating concepts - they'd be much healthier.

tonights dinner. Tomato rice with vietnamese pork chops.

best cook - dad. Can clear everything out of the freezer and make great fried rice or a noodle soup.

most asians aren't vegetarian on a moral or health basis.

Just Some Gal said...

I like that you can eat your leftovers for breakfast. lol ;-) As far as meat goes, the soy products tend to have a good amount protein.

I don't know how intent on working a lot on a meal but here is a link to a very good "fresh spring roll"... not the fried kind - the healthy kind. Beware though, it is not Japanese...tis Vietnamese.

~Deb said...

Miso favorite along with tons of sushi! I could live off veggies easily, but I am a true blue meat carnivore---love my filet mignon, chicken, fish, etc... If I had to pick one, it would be sushi for the rest of my life.

Tai said...

"non-meat snack such as fried pork rinds"
A pork rind is 'non-meat'???


(Don't worry Grant, I'll eat a moose for you. It'll keep the world on an even keel.)

TTD said...

let me find out you can cook :o)

LMAO at why Kentucky is better than the rest of the country!

PBS said...

Around here we say "Year-O" for Gyro, and I like them. Don't care for lamb much otherwise. It's difficult to eat vegetarian but it sounds like you're doing well at it.

Grant said...

mr q - you won't find many apologies here.

kerry - you can pronounce sushi, so go try it.

anonymous - yeah, you tell those hippies!

aka fatty - your eating concepts? You mean Australian eating concepts? 'Roo steaks and beer? :p Actually, on the fatness scale, you guys are about halfway between us and Japan.

blondie - thanks for the link. From what I've read, soy is not only a good source of protein, it's the only complete protein you can get from an vegetable source.

~deb - I don't think the meat's very fresh once it turns blue.

tai - skin, although tasty and packed with nutrients like saturated fat, shouldn't be counted as meat. Neither should chickens because they're just plain ugly.

ttd - Japanese cooking is easier than I thought because one of their philosophies is "The best cooking is the least cooking." Works for me.

pbs - I would pronounce it "Hero" but I haven't had one in years. Lamb is okay, but not as versatile as cow and pig and chicken.

Kerry said...

I tried sushi. Didnt like it. Made me wanna barf.

I can pronounce margarita. Think i'll go have one ;)

Rys said...

You forgot collard greens!!! mmmmmm mmmm good!

With your Japanese interests and my German obsession we've got two of the three axis powers covered!

And I'm not Catholic, I just take a little bit from every religion. Except Muslims - I will not destroy national landmarks with 747s.

Liz said...

You have to stop with the food, making me hungry.

Weary Hag said...

Sounds like you've really adapted nicely to the new trial diet. I think I would choke to death within 30 seconds if I attempted to eat half the stuff you named on your Japanese menu.

Joe said...

You're on quite the roll lately, Grant. After you kill the woodchuck, it might be a nice guesture to cook it and leave it out as a snack for your neighbors.

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

You hit the nail on the head there! The PK has to have dead animal flesh at EVER meal or else it's not a real meal.

pink said...

the food sounds good.I like trying new things.

Grant said...

kerry - you can also pronounce "barf." Now you have tonight's supper planned.

rys - don't worry, plenty of Canadians post here so we've got the third Axis power covered. It was Canada, wasn't it?

liz - you can join Kerry for a lovely plate of barf.

weary hag - I was worried about it at first, but it's all turned out to be very tasty (homemade recipes, not the pre-packaged stuff).

joe - if I feed them, they'll never go away.

pq - dead animals rule!

pink - you should try the teriyaki salmon sometime (more on that when I next post).