Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tolerance Soup

I confess, I am an information pack rat. I read constantly, peruse the internet 24/7, always on the lookout for information to horde away for the future. I subscribe to several food related Google Searches to find information for this website as well.

I recently came across two interesting articles and their comments which I would like to share with you. The first is Professing Green While Blogging Veal Recipes
it was posted on a the Supervegan Blog site and is written about Mark Bittman, who is the Food Editor and food blog writer for The New York Times, and noted cookbook author.

Now, other than owning some of his cookbooks, I know nothing about Mark Bittman, but reading the article and hearing the comments for some reason, really bothered me. The sum and substance of the article is a complaint that Bittmann, while writing vegetarian cookbooks, recently gave out a recipe for Roman Veal. Now Bittman also has other cookbooks published which are not vegetarian in nature, nor has he ever professed to be a vegetarian. So, if the man wants to write about veal, or give a veal recipe, why can't he.

The comments in response to the post were vicious:

"Well, Bittman may know the benefits of Veganism but his bread and butter definitely comes from carnivore cuisine. It's sad though, but it's all business to him.."

"Ugh, I can't stand Mark Bittman sometimes. I remember once he was on Martha Stewart Radio talking about his "vegetarian" brussels sprouts, but then admitted they are much better with bacon!"

"It makes one wonder whether Bittman, like so many others, contradicts himself just to make money."

Why can't Mark Bittman publish what he wants? He is a food writer, he is not a professed vegetarian, there are people in the world who eat veal and enjoy it ( I being one of them), and more importantly, why is his opinion less valuable than those who are on the vegetarian blog.

I would never presume to tell them to eat meat. We are only responsible for ourselves in this world. Imagine a host or hostesses nightmare when having a party today, his or her guests may include, a vegan, a carnivore, some one with a peanut allergy, someone who keeps Kosher, someone of Muslim descent, a lactose intolerant guest and a guest that is gluten free...
What do you do? What do you serve? I certainly wouldn't serve a loin of pork, maybe make some type of vegetarian casserole like an eggplant parmigiana, but how do you satisfy everyone. I would make the most sincere effort to meet the needs of my guests, but as a guest, you also have to make some concessions as well.

My feeling is, if your dietary restrictions are so restricted or restrictive, bring your own food, but come for the people and the fun, and enjoy yourself!
It should be all about the celebration, being together, and the people...

I never understood why people feel that their way is the only right way...if you want to be a vegetarian, go for it, if you like meat, that's okay too, if you are a Democrat vote the way you want to, if you a a Republican, feel free to do the same, or if you want to vote for the other party, go ahead and do that too. The last time I checked, this was a free country and we were entititled to make our own choices within reason. Why do we all feel the need to tell someone else how they should live (in case my children are reading this, this does not apply to you, lol).

Seriously, I am concerned how the anonymity of the internet has given permission for people to bash and be cruel to others. I read posts about people that make me cringe. Maybe we all need to take a step back in time and remember the adage our parents, and even some of us were brought us with, "if you have nothing nice to say about someone, say nothing," back into vogue.

The next person on the food chain I expected to be tarred and feather is Nick Malgieri, the author of many, many cookbooks, on baking and desserts, for having the audacity to mention the words weiner schnitzel in an article he wrote...image that, people eat weiner schnitzel!

So dear friends, in the coming year, let's try to lighten up a bit, maybe go back to some of those old fashion values, be nicer to our fellow man, stop turning President elect Obama into the Messiah, and hoping that he is successdful in making some changes in the country, but let's not expect a miracle, and if he doesn't effect the change everyone thinks his administration can accomplish, there is always the old fall back to blame George W. Bush, he takes it on the cuff for everything anyway!

Perhaps, being more tolerant would be a good New Years Resolution for all of us. With that in mind here is my recipe for today...

Here's my recipe for today:

Tolerance Soup:

5 cups of human kindness
6 cups of forgiveness
3 cups of I Love You
8 cups of I'm Sorry
3 cups of think before opening mouth and inserting food
3 cups of maybe the things I say may hurt someones feeling
(make a bouquet garni of jealousy, vindictiveness, pettiness, vanity)

Mix everything together in a pot, about simmering for 30 minutes, toss out the bouquet garni, and let the rest of the ingredients meld together. Serve a very generous and liberal seving to those around you.

May all of you have a very Happy, Healthy, 2009...may your blessings be many and your sad moments few!!!

PS: I now have a new appreciation for food stylists!


  1. Hi Elise - Great post! I agree with you on the bashing of Bittman; there's no excuse for it. I guess they think he's being a hypocrite because he believes and writes that eating a vegan diet is healthier and he personally lost a whole lot of weight and gained a great deal of health by eating that way most of the time now. He does however, allow himself to eat anything he wants - including all sorts of animal products if he wants them - at dinner time.

    Being a person who is allergic to many foods with the result of anaphylaxis if I eat them, I am very careful about eating out or at a friend's house. My close friends know what I can eat, so they tell me what's in the food and usually cook only things I can eat. I never tell people ahead of time what they need to do for me unless they ask; there's always something I can eat! Or I can eat when I get home if I need to. It's no big deal.

    When I go to a party where I don't know what's in the food or they don't know, I simply eat the foods that don't have multiple ingredients or sauces or anything I can't identify.

    Hosts and hostesses shouldn't feel like they have to provide a custom meal for a guest. I know most would be happy to if they can accommodate a friend, but as you say, the gathering is about the people there, not the food.

  2. I agree with you, Elise! The anonymity is the big plague of the internet - I know a couple of people that have closed their blogs because they simply couldn't take the mean and vicious comments any more. I often stumble upon blogs I don't like or read postings I completely disagree with, but I rarely leave comments and very seldom go back to those blogs. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I don't see a reason to try to convert anybody to anything. Live and let live has always been my motto... My wish for the New Year: a spoonful of the tolerance soup for everyone :)

  3. Elise,

    I have always tried to be kind to everyone but as you know, and have experienced, it doesn't work. Some people are just there to be nasty and many of those are not born with a filter nor do they wish to have a filter between their brains and their mouths. I am sure that there are many friends that are afraid to cook for you knowing you've written a wonderful cookbook, have this great visual learner's delightful blog and can create something wonderful on a moment's notice with "nothing in the house". They need to know that breakfast for dinner is ok, eating dinner in your pjs is fine and having someone else cook for you at this stage of the game even if it is a wonderful bowl of soup is the best thing on earth. As one in her mid 50's and only 3 of us here, trying to scale back is difficult but most of the time there are friends willing to take the overflow off one's hands(LOL). I am not an onion person at all and have made your dishes without and they are fine. Accomodations in life include cooking and people need to let go of the "exact amount"... you have to feel the ability to cook in your heart and soul or just follow your blog.