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Most amazing meal you've had in someone's home


Fat Guy
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I am new to this board, but Suvir your story sounds like you are full of $^&t.  My favorite piece was about the helicopter flying out for fresh food.  How many helicopters can fly 1000 miles from the Himalayas to Bombay and return with fresh seafood within the course of a few hours?  Or perhaps it was a fighter jet on loan from the Russian commisar who was also staying in the Himalayas as a guest.

You know what.. There is something called stopovers? And there is something called organization? It happens. And most of all, there is something called hospitality and a deeply ingrained notion of wanting to serve and entertain and spoil. It is now not common in many places… In fact, it is even getting lost in India. But when one has those qualities, fuel, stopovers, pilot salaries and time all fade…. The goal becomes to lavish one in most unexpected ways one can. If you knew of the Thapars.. And actually Samir Thapar, you would not be surprised by the tricks that man can pull. With his mind, his families’ wealth and connections, anything is possible. They can do what you and I can not even dream of. But theirs are dreams that get to be so different, growing up with so much.. They certainly have had dreams I did not envision. Maybe that is why, to Samir, taking care of my partner was a necessity that you may not fathom. These little pleasures give him more joy than his work in boardrooms buying and selling stock and companies.

And yes actually, in India, it is not uncommon for people to help one another out.

And yes that was what was most amazing about that lunch.. Within hours... fish had been brought from Bombay and cleaned, prepared and served.

And you know what... you may be right... My eyes are brown.. And so I may well be full of what you say I am... but if has affected my eyes.. Not my mind...

And funny you mention Russia... Yes we may have had some CIA spies that we were entertaining before they actually flew into Pakistan to plan the covert operations they were planning with the ISI... and strange enough.. When that happened... the aircrafts they flew on.. Were Russian. :shock:

Any ways... back to facts... Yes the fish was flown in from Bombay... It was brought in within a few hours of us arriving. It helps to be Indian.. and be able to go with the flow.... the lunches never start before 2 or 3 PM..and dinners at private parties such as these begin by midnight... if at all.. even later than that. But perhaps it is a world most could never imagine. But that again makes those memories so beautiful.

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I am new to this board, but Suvir your story sounds like you are full of $^&t.  My favorite piece was about the helicopter flying out for fresh food.  How many helicopters can fly 1000 miles from the Himalayas to Bombay and return with fresh seafood within the course of a few hours?  Or perhaps it was a fighter jet on loan from the Russian commisar who was also staying in the Himalayas as a guest.

Huh ? Are you from NYC ? I've seen more grand tamasheas done in here (NYC); like sending a personal do-hicky to get a certain cache of unhatched eggs from central asia to make in time for the next-day pre-prom party ..... enough said.....

anil

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I am new to this board, but Suvir your story sounds like you are full of $^&t.  My favorite piece was about the helicopter flying out for fresh food.  How many helicopters can fly 1000 miles from the Himalayas to Bombay and return with fresh seafood within the course of a few hours?   Or perhaps it was a fighter jet on loan from the Russian commisar who was also staying in the Himalayas as a guest.

Huh ? Are you from NYC ? I've seen more grand tamasheas done in here (NYC); like sending a personal do-hicky to get a certain cache of unhatched eggs from central asia to make in time for the next-day pre-prom party ..... enough said.....

Tamasha - Anil you may want to explain what that is.

And yes thank you... I have attended and catered parties where Tamashas of the kind one can never imagine are recreated... Perhaps not as frequently and spontaneously as they might happen back home... but when one has money... Anything can be done... In fact it seems to drive some into being spontaneous... and it is their big thing.... Charming others by making what some may find impossible happen.

Tamasha is the perfect word. Thanks for mentioning it.

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Question: When one is to present a piece d'occasion before guests who have grown to expect the unusual...

how far does one want to go?

My all-time favorite (true story if you believe what you read) was the annual dinner prepared by the Explorers Club in NYC some years ago. The main course included mammoth steak! The extinct beast from the Pleistocene age had been recovered from a thawing glacier in outer Mongolia. A too perfect coincidence for the club's upcoming dinner. One can well imagine the details necessary to survey the situation and to recover the proper amount of meat, get it through or around customs and past "Cruelty to Animals" mobs and into their New York kitchen.

Now, that's an example to be followed

by other hosts who don't mind "going an extra mile.

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I do recall a Chinese wedding meal that I had once in Yunnan and in New Jersey. The first half of the wedding happened in Edison and the second half in LiJiang, which is on the Tibetan border where the Western Himalayan begin and also just North of the Great Rain forests of forbidden Burma. It is truly one of the most exquisite and remote areas on earth, populated largely by pristine and uncorrupted minorities tribes who hunt the large populations of white Snow Leapords and Cesuo Dabian, which they use for fur and food. The wedding took place over the course of 24 hours with the Space Shuttle serving as the means of transport between Edison and Lijiang. When one has connections and a cornucopia of money earned by doing all the proprietary bond and currency trading for the Trilateral Commission, the world is truly one’s fawning and flapping oyster—even the greatest public resources of the formidable US government and NASA are available for one’s private, whims, including of course, spontaneous meals. To be connected, rich, well bred and the CFO of the Trilateral Commission. Yes, indeed, all is possible.

The wedding was a dual ceremony with the Pope performing the first of the ceremony, having been flown in secretly on the bride’s private jet from Rome along with some Umbrian white truffles still encased in their native soil and some caged Cinghale from Tuscany, which had been bathed in holy water spontaneously by the Pope. The Dalai Lama, having gotten secret permission from the Chinese government, because of the groom’s great connections to the Trilateral Commission, performed the Chinese portion of the ceremony, though his Holiness was kind enough to speak in Tibetan and English. The Pope could not make the Chinese ceremony, unfortunately. The ceremony began a bit off with the groom needing to short 400,000,000 US10 Year bond futures on a whim. Of course, his genius was proved almost instantaneously when US bonds promptly tanked ten points on strong employment news, and he covered for a profit of several billion dollars. Such genius, the groom was now able to find the entire wedding through one brilliant trade. And he always bet right.

The meal in New Jersey began at 2:00 in the afternoon with crabs flown in from Maryland and Lobster flown in from Maine prepared by Guy Martin, who had accompanied the Pope on the flight from Europe, and thankfully had the day off. This was followed by the legendary and rarely seen Burmese dish of monkey virgin. The live monkey virgins were deflowered painlessly in front of the guests and the blood was mixed with lavender and chrysanthemum water by Iron Chef Morimoto who was up in Edison from Philly for the day. This blood flower admixture was then drunk by everyone as part of toast of generosity, and to signal that indeed all present were special and part of the most special and most perfect group of people on earth. Indeed the bride and groom’s genes would be the source of future perfectly genetically engineered generations, all at the wedding knew. Such was their perfection.

The third course was served in outer space. Dry-aged kobe beef that had been reared listening to an auditory diet of ½ Coltraine and ½ Bach was cooked lightly in UV light for the duration of the trip, and then lightly seared on reentry under the direction of Alain Ducasse, who decided that cooking in space required the reverse treatment of beef required on earth. This dish worked brilliantly as we enjoyed the dual toast of the Emperor of Japan and the Queen of England, the former having provided Otokayama Mottomo Junmai Bakka Iro sake from the 17th century secret casks of the imperial castle and the latter having forced the Wedgwood factories of her homeland to work 24 hours a day for weeks to fashion platinum and diamond vessels suitable just for this drink. What an exquisite toast the two monarchs gave too. Upon re-entry we enjoyed 100 year old Springbank provided by the Queen, and those of us that felt so inclined were permitted a light puff of anise flavored opium, which had been picked at the perfect hour at dawn in the DiuLouMou section of the Golden Triangle. This was particularly special because the opium so obtained at this one hour on this one day of the year is renown for its flavor but non addictive dream like qualities. It was the perfect spiritual aperitif for the mildly scary reentry to the earth’s atmosphere. Oh, the view was fabulous from outer space.

We arrived in perfect time in LiJiang where we were taken half way up the snowy mountains (the half way point having a deep significance in ancient Tibetan Buddhist scriptures regarding tantric metaphors for space and time joining) by the local and brave starving peasants, who gallantly carried us up the mountains having been served a menu of goat rice generously provided by our groom via a famous Jamaican Creole cook who made these sorts of meals that the lower classes might enjoy. Such was the couple’s magnanimity and spontaneous generosity that he also guaranteed all the local peasants American citizenship and free and easy entry into Harvard. Our first dish in the Himalayas was the last endangered Panda Bear available in this province skewered slowly for 6 weeks over an open JiangNan Mu smoke pit by the ablest banquet cook in Beijing, famed for the inventive dishes he had served Chairman Zhou Enlai as his private chef (everyone “in the know” is aware that Zhou Enlai’s chef was superior to Mao Zedong’s, since the latter was prone to excessive use of sugar and cabbage). These were followed, as is the custom among perfect people, with a palette cleanser of potato knishes made by the bride’s Uncle Moish. White lotus bulb based wine served as the drink of choice as the next portion of the entertainment of castrati eunuchs trained during the late Qing performed the last Shanghainese opera in Cantonese heard by the Last Emperor, Pu Yi. The last savory dish was Tibetan snow ice cured groin of Smiley Lapdog served in a sweet sauce of half Hunan quail blood and half Xihu carp blood with chilis. Everything was perfectly balanced in the most beautiful place on earth. I have never had so exquisite a meal.

But it was not completely over. The desserts were parachuted in by the 15th Battalion of the US Army, bringing us a pear tart prepared by Claudio Fleming (before she left GT) and a half bottle of 1974 D’Yquem for each guest to enjoy on the privately F14 jet ride each person was to enjoy back to Hawaii where the Concorde awaited them.

Certainly the best meal of my life.

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I do recall a Chinese wedding meal that I had once in Yunnan and in New Jersey.  The first half of the wedding happened in Edison and the second half in LiJiang, which is on the Tibetan border where the Western Himalayan begin and also just North of the Great Rain forests of forbidden Burma. It is truly one of the most exquisite and remote areas on earth, populated largely by pristine and uncorrupted minorities tribes who hunt the large populations of white Snow Leapords and Cesuo Dabian, which they use for fur and food.  The wedding took place over the course of 24 hours with the Space Shuttle serving as the means of transport between Edison and Lijiang.  When one has connections and a cornucopia of money earned by doing all the proprietary bond and currency trading for the Trilateral Commission, the world is truly one’s fawning and flapping oyster—even the greatest public resources of the formidable US government and NASA are available for one’s private, whims, including of course, spontaneous meals.  To be connected, rich, well bred and the CFO of the Trilateral Commission.  Yes, indeed, all is possible. 

The wedding was a dual ceremony with the Pope performing the first of the ceremony, having been flown in secretly on the bride’s private jet from Rome along with some Umbrian white truffles still encased in their native soil and some caged Cinghale from Tuscany, which had been bathed in holy water spontaneously by the Pope.  The Dalai Lama, having gotten secret permission from the Chinese government, because of the groom’s great connections to the Trilateral Commission, performed the Chinese portion of the ceremony, though his Holiness was kind enough to speak in Tibetan and English.  The Pope could not make the Chinese ceremony, unfortunately.  The ceremony began a bit off with the groom needing to short 400,000,000 US10 Year bond futures on a whim.  Of course, his genius was proved almost instantaneously when US bonds promptly tanked ten points on strong employment news, and he covered for a profit of several billion dollars.  Such genius, the groom was now able to find the entire wedding through one brilliant trade.  And he always bet right.

The meal in New Jersey began at 2:00 in the afternoon with crabs flown in from Maryland and Lobster flown in from Maine prepared by Guy Martin, who had accompanied the Pope on the flight from Europe, and thankfully had the day off.  This was followed by the legendary and rarely seen Burmese dish of monkey virgin.  The live monkey virgins were deflowered painlessly in front of the guests and the blood was mixed with lavender and chrysanthemum water by Iron Chef Morimoto who was up in Edison from Philly for the day.  This blood flower admixture was then drunk by everyone as part of toast of generosity, and to signal that indeed all present were special and part of the most special and most perfect group of people on earth.  Indeed the bride and groom’s genes would be the source of future perfectly genetically engineered generations, all at the wedding knew.  Such was their perfection.

The third course was served in outer space.  Dry-aged kobe beef that had been reared listening to an auditory diet of ½ Coltraine and ½ Bach was cooked lightly in UV light for the duration of the trip, and then lightly seared on reentry under the direction of Alain Ducasse, who decided that cooking in space required the reverse treatment of beef required on earth.  This dish worked brilliantly as we enjoyed the dual toast of the Emperor of Japan and the Queen of England, the former having provided Otokayama Mottomo Junmai Bakka Iro sake from the 17th century secret casks of the imperial castle and the latter having forced the Wedgwood factories of her homeland to work 24 hours a day for weeks to fashion platinum and diamond vessels suitable just for this drink.  What an exquisite toast the two monarchs gave too.  Upon re-entry we enjoyed 100 year old Springbank provided by the Queen, and those of us that felt so inclined were permitted a light puff of anise flavored opium, which had been picked at the perfect hour at dawn in the DiuLouMou section of the Golden Triangle.  This was particularly special because the opium so obtained at this one hour on this one day of the year is renown for its flavor but non addictive dream like qualities.  It was the perfect spiritual aperitif for the mildly scary reentry to the earth’s atmosphere.  Oh, the view was fabulous from outer space.

We arrived in perfect time in LiJiang where we were taken half way up the snowy mountains (the half way point having a deep significance in ancient Tibetan Buddhist scriptures regarding tantric metaphors for space and time joining) by the local and brave starving peasants, who gallantly carried us up the mountains having been served a menu of goat rice generously provided by our groom via a famous Jamaican Creole cook who made these sorts of meals that the lower classes might enjoy.  Such was the couple’s magnanimity and spontaneous generosity that he also guaranteed all the local peasants American citizenship and free and easy entry into Harvard.  Our first dish in the Himalayas was the last endangered Panda Bear available in this province skewered slowly for 6 weeks over an open JiangNan Mu smoke pit by the ablest banquet cook in Beijing, famed for the inventive dishes he had served Chairman Zhou Enlai as his private chef (everyone “in the know” is aware that Zhou Enlai’s chef was superior to Mao Zedong’s, since the latter was prone to excessive use of sugar and cabbage).  These were followed, as is the custom among perfect people, with a palette cleanser of potato knishes made by the bride’s Uncle Moish.  White lotus bulb based wine served as the drink of choice as the next portion of the entertainment of castrati eunuchs trained during the late Qing performed the last Shanghainese opera in Cantonese heard by the Last Emperor, Pu Yi.  The last savory dish was Tibetan snow ice cured groin of Smiley Lapdog served in a sweet sauce of half Hunan quail blood and half Xihu carp blood with chilis. Everything was perfectly balanced in the most beautiful place on earth.  I have never had so exquisite a meal.

But it was not completely over.  The desserts were parachuted in by the 15th Battalion of the US Army, bringing us a pear tart prepared by Claudio Fleming (before she left GT) and a half bottle of 1974 D’Yquem for each guest to enjoy on the privately F14 jet ride each person was to enjoy back to Hawaii where the Concorde awaited them.

Certainly the best meal of my life.

I believe everything except the Pope coming to Jersey - I think the catholic church has a by-law forbidding it.

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MeinBuddha -- I think I recognize your style. Weren't you a winner of the Bulwer-Lytton Prize a few years ago?

I have absolutely no pretenses to your level of gourmenity, but I do have some questions for you about the meal, its ingredients, and its staging:

1. Where near Edison can the Space Shuttle land?

2. Are "Cinghale" like wild boar, but with the aitch-bone removed?

3. Did His Holiness end up splashing holy water all over the plane?

4. Since Wedgewood works in clay, and platinum is a metal, did the groom pay for new smelters/ovens?

5. If bride and groom were perfect, why would they not just be cloned? Surely much engineering is required to join ovum and sperm, even in vitro?

6. What music does this "Coltraine" play? Is s/he perhaps a distant scion of the same family as the great John, but whose branch changed the spelling of their name out of shame of some black sheep?

7. is "castrati eunuchs" not repetitively redundant? (this is why I think you were a B-L winner.)

8. If you are a true United Statesian, have you informed the CIA of the location of the landing place near LiJiang? Surely they cannot find it on their own.

9. Why was a knish "palette cleanser" necessary? What sort of servant is that, anyway? I would have thought that guests would have been provided cushions, in any case, and not forced to sit on bare palettes.

10. When did Chef Fleming have a sex (or name) change? How shocking to learn about it from you!

Well, I have many more questions, and a great need for enlightment, but I daresay you will not have time to answer, as I expect you are off tunnelling to the core of the earth in search of the best way to heat your tea-water. But I beg of you, please grant me the great honor of at least one answer.

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Our first dish in the Himalayas was the last endangered Panda Bear available in this province skewered slowly for 6 weeks over an open JiangNan Mu smoke pit by the ablest banquet cook in Beijing

Lord Micheal Lewis. That panda killing bastard.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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... For we  lose real touch with brilliance when lost in its midst.  It is as if the shine a diamond is lost in the company of many other brilliant diamonds such as itself.  How could one really find one better than another without spending too much time de-constructing the stome completely.

(...)

Love and genuine desire to share and spoil make for a great host and a memorable experience.  If someone is loving and genuine, they are all one needs for having a special time.

Wow Suvir. You know, this spoke to me about a recent experience I had. Or, I should say, it caused me to see that food experience in a different light.

I agree- the host & the environment shape the experience.

Born Free, Now Expensive

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Question: When one is to present a piece d'occasion before guests who have grown to expect the unusual...

how far does one want to go?

A good host, who is hosting guests that have been in such lavish settings way too often, will never stop short of anything.

In fact it has been my experience that hosts like these understand quite well how far each of their guests likes things to go. And many of them actually indulge their guests all the way through. Most often even anticipating the needs of each of the guests uniquely and differently and ensuring the amazement of each one individually and collectively.

This takes me back to the diamond and a gemologist and also a jewelry designer. While they certainly see many fine stones daily, they also know how each of their prized jewels will need to be handled so as to best showcase its most winning angles and yet mixing it with other stones that will look brilliant but will be compromised just enough to make the one stone they want to see shine most come out as the most brilliant. The goal is not to make any one stone look bad, but to bring out different qualities of each stone and create a grouping that is brilliant in its entirety and also complete in each of its individual strengths.

I think an understanding like this will make all the difference and a host such as one I mention, is intuitive in how they handle these challenging situations. But to their trained and experienced mindset, these are fun ways of entertaining their own need to be in charge and orchestrate a perfect time.

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Question: When one is to present a piece d'occasion before guests who have grown to expect the unusual...

how far does one want to go?

"...............What was important to the Baroque age of the 18th century was style, structure, form and presentation so that as much emphasis was placed on how one spoke as what one spoke. Salons of that period were a kind of theatre where thinkers presented their ideas to the other members of the salon in order to judge their audiences’ reaction. Kabir and Geoff’s salons are more like jazz improvisation. The two men structure the evenings to the extent that they choose their guests, the food, the music and the occasion. But once the crowd gets together, the conversation flows from the alchemy of the invited guests and it falls to the two men to intervene in and manage whatever happens.

When asked why they host these parties, Kabir and Geoff will talk about how they do so for their friends: to introduce people to one another and to give friends in trouble a place to come and get support and help. While this is not untrue, it obscures a deeper story. The relationship between Geoff and Kabir has not been easy. They come from cultures that are radically different and they are consequently significantly different in their experience and values. When it’s just the two of them alone, they squabble and irritate each other. They don’t agree about much. They fall into a habitual back-and-forth game of provoking and reacting.

The parties that the two men throw together give them a forum in which to explore and build their partnership. In partnership, they recognize in each other a shared love of entertaining and people. They respect and rely on each other for that. The parties give them a common purpose, a place to stand side by side, so that their differences, irritants and disagreements become of secondary importance to their shared work. They can disagree and not lose sight of what they’re doing together. By observing their partnership we are given a window into the inevitable challenges and satisfactions in the meeting of two cultures..........."

As you read above, you will understand that people host parties for different reasons.. and also different people will tackle situations differently. And how people are driven by different needs.

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Another passage that may help explain why people entertain, host and spoil others.

"............. The diversity that we are shown in these parties is also religious: there are Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Parsis, Jains and Sikhs as well as others. Some are so identified with their religion that, while they may be relatively liberal and tolerant on other topics, they are mostly inhospitable to other religious beliefs. Others don’t want to be identified with any organized religion and have whatever personal, spiritual belief system they have. A third group is made up of people like Kabir who have a religious affiliation (Kabir is a Hindu) but are curious about other spiritual beliefs and have integrated aspects of several belief systems into their lives. Holding conversation in the midst of so much religious and cultural diversity is difficult and often frightening. People struggle to hold fast to their point of view in the face of others’ deeply held convictions, misperceptions and misunderstandings. Sometimes they are successful, often they are not. At these salons, we see the guests polish themselves by rubbing against each others’ harsh edges. They tease each other, call each other out, pull away and try to talk it out.

The food is the glue that binds people together in the midst of their differences. The comfortable and universal ritual of eating gives everyone a way to relax and be themselves while they jockey to find connection with one another. Conversation flows easily around the food because differences of opinion about tastes and recipes are relatively easy to talk about. And Kabir is a fine Indian cook. He teaches Indian cooking at a school in the city. As a child, he apprenticed informally to his household cook, Maharajji, a Brahmin by birth, who worked at the family’s home in New Delhi. In the course of their relationship, Maharajji became Kabir’s mentor and schooled the boy in religion as well as in cooking. As a result, Kabir cooks and feeds his guests as a kind of spiritual calling. He and Geoff understand that food provides more than just physical nourishment at their parties. It is a kind of spiritual lubricant, greasing the wheels of group interaction to help people function at their best. ............."

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You know, this spoke to me about a recent experience I had. Or, I should say, it caused me to see that food experience in a different light.

I agree- the host & the environment shape the experience.

Tell us more about their experience. If you are comfortable that is.... Sounds like you had a very special one.

Yes I cannot agree more that the host and the environment are the key ingredient in shaping what any given evening around food and entertainment will be.

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  • 2 weeks later...

MeinBuddha - A very good piece and surely a memorable occasion, but I think it lacks the subtlety of Suvir's own writing. Maybe there is another time you could write about and continue these excellent fantasies - oops, I mean revelations in dining as a guest.

Suvir - Perhaps you could tell us how it is possible to be a vegetarian and "love" wild boar meat all in the same thread?

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Suvir - Perhaps you could tell us how it is possible to be a vegetarian and "love" wild boar meat all in the same thread?

It is not possible.

I was at a dinner with Eric Asimov this week, and he introduced me as a non-fanatic and non-issue vegetarian. I thought he had bared my soul in front of the person he was accompanied by. He said it perfectly.

I am vegetarian. My parents are true ovo-lacto vegetarian. I stray every now and then. More often at times when I am in the midst of such adventure and find the need to document such occurence as I may feel the need to speak or write about later.

I am a failure in many ways as a vegetarian and yet I never eat meat when dining with friends for pleasure.

I am sure none of this makes sense. But it does to me in some strange way. My parents who raised me vegetarian and whose homes have always and will always remain vegetarian seem to understand and respect what I do. And I try, not to sway too often. Months can go by without my eating any meat. And then I can be in a city with great restaurants and I could be found eating Foie Gras and Steak at every meal.

Did I confuse you even more? I am sorry.

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Suvir - Perhaps you could tell us how it is possible to be a vegetarian and "love" wild boar meat all in the same thread?

How could I forget the "love" in the question... sorry.

I "love" Foie Gras, Steak and Wild Boar pickle. If I were not vegetarian... I could eat them every day.

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But Suvir, you are not a hypocrite, and that is what matters. Because of your background and your sensibilities, you are a vegetarian almost all the time. When you must -- because work and occasional adventure related to work make it a "must" -- you stray from the straight and narrow. But you return easily to your beliefs. You are not at all like someone who proclaims, "I am a vegetarian" but frequently eats fish or chicken.

Those other things taste wonderful. How could someone who really cares about food NOT "love" them, once they taste them? But you do not eat them regularly and then say, "Oh, but really I am a vegetarian." So please, do not beat yourself.

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But Suvir, you are not a hypocrite, and that is what matters.  Because of your background and your sensibilities, you are a vegetarian almost all the time.  When you must -- because work  and occasional adventure related to work make it a "must" -- you stray from the straight and narrow.  But you return easily to your beliefs.  You are not at all like someone who proclaims, "I am a vegetarian" but frequently eats fish or chicken. 

Those other things taste wonderful.  How could someone who really cares about food NOT "love" them, once they taste them?  But you do not eat them regularly and then say, "Oh, but really I am a vegetarian."  So please, do not beat yourself.

Just tonight, I was at the home of Ed Schoenfeld, one of the best cooks in NYC.. If not one of the top 10 cooks in the country. I had several opportunities and every reason to be not vegetarian. But I was vegetarian and my mind did not even think once about trying the couple of really good stuff served on the table. I have no desire.

I could have eaten the steak and chicken he made... but I did not.

I enjoyed the potato salad (happens to be the best I have ever and will ever eat, how could life ever get any more perfect), cole slaw and corn bread.

I have to plead with Ed to not make any more dishes just for me. He is family to me... and he took a long time before getting this free with me.. He always made me pasta or something vegetarian.... But now, he knows that I can be happy eating just the starches and yet find the meal memorable.

Ed also knows that I do make exceptions to my rule of being largely vegetarian, but he will never even ask me to taste a bite of what he prepares. In fact traveling with him and many other respectable chefs and gourmands, I have eaten the best meats and meals of a lifetime... and even then, I had to beg to get a taste or an order... much to his chagrin. For he wondered if I were doing that only to find acceptance (and this latter was not acceptable to him), but when I told him I wanted to try. He loved the fact that I was having these forbidden fruits for one from my sub-sect of Hinduism, at the most appropriate places.

At Ed's table today, there were two or at least one other person claiming to be vegetarian and the next thing I see what this person eating dark meat from the chicken platter. That is funny and hypocritical to me.

I have eaten most all meats and seafood... And yet, at private gatherings at the home of friends and acquaintances I never falter from my being vegetarian. Even as I travel, I only reserve my meat eating forays for those restaurants and meals that I am told by the few people I really trust as being the best I could ever taste of a certain dish or meat or seafood.

My body is not used to meat at all. Not even fish. In fact I find myself very tired and full after eating any kind of flesh. It takes days for me to recover from even just a few bites of flesh. I feel maybe it is my mind coloring my real well being, but I have been told by even very "western and non-emotional" doctor friends that I am not wrong in feeling as I do.

I am vegetarian only for my family was vegetarian and for I grew up in a home that never had any flesh come to the kitchen. IN fact in our home no meat, chicken or fish was ever cooked or served. No alcohol was ever poured and no cigarette was ever lit. And I think it will hold true even after my parents move on from this state of their being. My brother is as staunch with this as my father and grandfather. He will continue that tradition long after I am sure. I have no feeling of being any more humane than any of my friends or family that eat meat. I have no feeling of being on a higher moral platform for I am vegetarian. I never run into Vegan or vegetarian restaurants. In fact my friends are amused that I actually plead not to be taken to those establishments... For I have eaten some of the worst vegetarian meals in such places. I am always nervous when I read "vegan". I am suspicious that it means bad food. I have been surprised sometimes.. but rarely and not enough to make me go looking for more such places. I have not done a PhD on vegetarian vs. non vegetarian lifestyle and nor have I known anyone that has spent equal amounts of time eating good food and diverse food from both these lifestyles and then made an intelligent decision, so I have no role models I really trust about either one being more attractive, healthful or better in any way. So, I choose to simply enjoy each meal as best as I can.. And try my best to follow some of those customs that my father learned from his parents and was able to share with me.... If I was not a foodie like I have become.. Maybe I would still have been purely vegetarian like him. But even he (my father the pure vegetarian) runs away from fanatic vegetarians. They scare him. He feels labels are useless and dangerous. And I tend to agree with him. I have never felt the need to be assigned a niche where I should fit and be comfortable. I am happy being somewhat conspicuous but not totally exotic and alone and fanatic.

Again, I am not sure if I am worthy of being assigned any praise.... But I do believe I am mostly vegetarian. And I will be so for the rest of my life.

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Suvir is an honest about his meatless diet and I respect how this came about.

It has always been a wonderment to me that fine chefs can create wonderful dinners without a shred of meat. I once took a group of friends to a private dining club here in San Diego (Tambo d'Oro) where one of the group announced that he was a veggie. The chef came to our table and inquired about my guest's favorites. Disappearing into the kitchen, he returned with a plate of wonderful creations that made us each wish that we'd have ordered what the "veggie"

was having.

I have always liked some of the dishes that are favorites of the "veggies" but invaribly, the usual fare is not something I would consider appealing. I honestly feel that too few chefs are inspired to create the kind of dinner that we saw at Tambo d'Oro. Were it more common, I feel that it would be a welcome change.

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  • 10 months later...

Christmas eve dinner in Oaxaca 1994(?). My MIL was on a Fulbright and we got invited to dinner with her exchange partner family.

Some punch made of beer, chilies, limes, and mezcal (it actually tasted good)

Salad of beets, onions, oranges, carrots, and jicama

Roasted chicken stuffed with picadillo

Mole Poblano de Guajolote :cool:

Some crazy dish of eggs and a green that translated as "Herb that grows in the ditch by the side of the road" with a brown sauce made w/ chilies.

Carne asada

Lots of beer

Brandy

Tres Leches

There were about 5 more things I can't remember.

After dinner the had a scarecrow who they called viejo. The stuffed him full of fireworks and lit him on fire. This is usualy done on New Years eve, but lucky for us they did it on Christmas. The kids each got one matchbox car for a gift, and they were happier with that car than many American kids who get 30 presents on Christmas morning.

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ou are not at all like someone who proclaims, "I am a vegetarian" but frequently eats fish or chicken.

I am in constant disbelief at people who say, "I'm a vegetarian. I only eat chicken and fish."

When my daughter was young, she was meatless. I told my mother, "If it had a face, she doesn't eat it." Once morning, before a vacation back home, my mother called to ask, "Does shrimp have a face?"

"Mom, if it had a MOTHER, she doesn't eat it—except eggs. Does a shrimp grow on a plant?!"

My girl's daddy has family in Texas, where the state flower is a cow, as you all know. She was sitting on one of their laps, and he's starting to shovel a spoonful of chicken soup into my baby's mouth. "Stop! She doesn't eat meat!"

"This isn't meat! This is chicken!"

I wish I were making any of that up. Well, the state flower thing.

We now return you to this splendid topic. What beautiful posts there've been.

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a visit back to the Philippines, circa 1981.

I was 10 at the time, and we were visiting my grandma's home in inner-city Manila.

I don't remember all of what I ate one evening, but I do remember the lion's head meatballs (AMAZINGLY scrumptious -- I think my grandma uses fresh water chestnuts as part of the meatball mix), congee with stewed pork, ginger and banana blossoms, paksiw (milkfish and vegetables, stewed in either vinegar or tamarind -- the important thing about paksiw is that the sauce element should be sour) and pakbet (vegetables and either pork or seafood in a fishy/salty sauce). Paksiw and pakbet are pretty standard fare in much of the Philippines, but this was the first time I'd had crab/milkfish paksiw in a tamarind base, and also the first time I'd had pakbet with my grandmother's bagoong paste.

Bagoong is salted shrimp or anchovy paste. Powerful stuff -- not for the weak of palate -- an eighth of a teaspoon will flavor an entire bowl of rice. My grandmother likes to deep fry a bit of this paste in some peanut or vegetable oil, fold in A TON of garlic -- she told me later that she typically uses two cloves, finely minced --and cook the paste until the liquid has evaporated, and the paste has browned and turned crumbly. Sometimes she adds the garlic towards the end of the cooking so the taste isn't mellowed out. Sometimes she adds it in the beginning.

I think I've cherished this memory, not only because of the elements of the meal, but also where I ate it -- in the house where I lived most of my early childhood, after my father and sister passed away.

Soba

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