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Vegan "Charcuterie"? WTF?!


Big Mike
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Food & Wine has now published two blurbs in two episodes about some hippie restaurant in California which is serving vegan "charcuterie". One mention is ranked as one of teh best restaurant dishes of 2010. Read the article here. Seriously, can you really possibly call any vegetable charcuterie? Am I the the only one that thinks this is completely stupid?


I have simple tastes. I am always satisfied with the best - Oscar Wilde

The Easy Bohemian

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It's a bunch of veggies on a board. As lovely as they are, I think it's a stretch. A marketing inspired stretch. But then, people have been making "vegetarian meatloaf" which I can barely say with a straight face, for years, so...*shrug*

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It's a stretch, sure. But there are a million similar stretches in the food business, and unlike some of them (e.g. calling anything in a cocktail glass a "martini"), these actually sound good:

Vegan “charcuterie”

- Mushroom tartar, parsnip “lardo”, roasted garlic

- Pear carpaccio, smoked persimmon celery root salsa

- Grilled watermelon radish “steak”, leek “butter”, horseradish salsa verde, wine grapes

- Oyster mushroom crudo, “tonnato” sauce, avocado, crispy sea palm

- Roasted carnival squash, sunchoke cashew bay leaf sauce, smoked maple

I'd give it a try.

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Even Ruhlman's Charcuterie has a recipe in it for a vegetable terrine, does it not? We've been calling anything sliced thinly and served raw a "carpaccio" for quite a while now, and most of those items seem very clearly inspired by their meaty counterparts. If you didn't call it "charcuterie" I don't know what term you'd use that would still effectively communicate what you meant.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Brussels Sprouts aren't actually from Brussels

Soy Milk contains no actual milk

Baby Powder fails to contain any babies.

Vegan Characuterie has no meat in it.

and yet, I'm still capable of understanding the concept behind each one of these terms despite their apparent "improperness."

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I think it's fun. I mean, others have pointed out, people have been having fun with word play for a while (i.e. tomato sashimi, watermelon carpaccio, etc, to name one or two). Sure, there are times when it's WAY too far of a stretch, but I think this works, and like Andrew said, these actually sound pretty good - I would try it for sure if I sat down and saw that.

Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality.

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Apparently, this item is actually not even pretending to mimic charcuterie ('In fact, the only similarity to a typical charcuterie plate is the wooden board Baker sets the food on.' http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/10-best-restaurant-dishes-of-2010), so calling it that seems fairly pointless.

(No one get me started on any sort of vegetable 'carpaccio'; frankly, limp slithers of veg. really don't cut it, regardless of how they're tarted up... but that's just one opinion, obviously.)

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I dunno, the menu Andrew Fenton posted above sure looks charcuterie-inspired to me. And every damned restaurant under the sun serves a "seasonal selection of artisanal vegetables"—I still find the playfulness of calling it "charcuterie" more in keeping with the spirit of the dish.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I dunno, the menu Andrew Fenton posted above sure looks charcuterie-inspired to me. And every damned restaurant under the sun serves a "seasonal selection of artisanal vegetables"—I still find the playfulness of calling it "charcuterie" more in keeping with the spirit of the dish.

agreed. The term conveys the concept of “charcuterie” while still being quite clear there is no meat involved.

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You may have a point, Chris. But I'm a copyeditor and copywriter to the bone, and (possibly because I have to deal daily with spectacularly misguided efforts at 'creative' word usage, and have written ridiculous copy for various things) whenever I see would-be-creative efforts to describe menu items, I usually pass (sometimes, on the restaurant as a whole). I think it comes down to my having become over-tuned with regard to anything that has even a whiff of hype, which is clearly my problem, not that of the to-me-questionably-named items.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I'm an omnivore and have been to the restaurant in the OP and ordered the vegan charcuterie, but wasn't horrified that what came out did not resemble meat at all.

There *is* a vegan pate of some sort on it, and pate counts as charcuterie, no? I agree with previous posters that it's not official charcuterie in the stricter sense of the word, but it definitely gets the point across.

When I saw the word 'charcuterie' on the menu, my only thought was, "Oh, finger food and stuff that you can spread on crusty bread" which is the point.

nakedsushi.net (not so much sushi, and not exactly naked)
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I guess I'm more about enjoying good food for what it is, without all of the trendy BS menu wrangling. I see all those quotes in the description and my eyes just roll away. Parsnip “lardo”, radish “steak”, leek "butter". I know it was meant to be playful, it still bugs me. Then again turkey "bacon" bugs me too.


I have simple tastes. I am always satisfied with the best - Oscar Wilde

The Easy Bohemian

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Gather is 2nd on my list of favorite new restaurant this year. Really just an awesome place, food and staff every time I go are exceptional! I'll actually be going today for my birthday lunch. I roll my eyes at some menu descriptions too but if the dish comes to the table and knocks my socks off they can call it whatever they want. :cool:

Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

My eGullet Foodblog

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