Today is World Vegetarian Day, and I have to say that, locally, I've been encouraged by the openings of three restaurants in the last year that strive to have interesting and inventive vegetarian options: Fuel, Three Angels Diner, and Trolley Stop Market.
Kudos to them for thinking beyond the portobello burger.
Almost none of the above has anything to do with Anthony Bourdain and his latest book Medium Raw, but I'm going there anyway ...
Bourdain opens the book with a scene from a very hush-hush, ultra-exclusive dinner party among the world's most powerful chefs, where they eat (illegally and in one bite) an ortolan, bones and all. The closing chapter, "The Fish-on-Monday Thing" serves as sort of a coda to Kitchen Confidential. Those fabulous rants that shot him into stardom, he says, were driven by anger not at the thing he was ranting about but mostly by anger at himself.
But ... but ... he writes, "I am genuinely angry — still — at vegetarians. That's not shtick."
For Bourdain, it's the principle of the thing. That is a fine enough reason. And that principle is based on this scenario:
The idea of a vegetarian traveler in comfortable shoes waving away the hospitality — the distillation of a lifetime of training and experience — of, say, a Vietnamese pho vendor (or Italian mother-in-law, for that matter) fills me with spluttering indignation.
I'm sure this happens. Maybe Bourdain has seen this happen. Most certainly it's not as rare as eating (illegally and in one bite) an ortolan with the world's top chefs, but is this honestly a problem?
In other words, Happy World Vegetarian Day!