“Vegetables Are the New Meat,” declares this week’s New York magazine, describing vegetables as the latest craze in gourmet food. While it’s obvious to me (I’ve been mostly vegetarian for eight years), I’m glad that more professional chefs and influential foodies are acknowledging that a huge hunk of meat doesn’t always make for the most exciting meal.
I’ll take this moment to recount some of my most memorable fruit and veggie traveling experiences:
- In Beijing, eating corn and pine nuts, a common dish of northern China, opened my eyes to the extreme diversity of food traditions within the country.
- In Nicaragua, I didn’t get too many vegetables on my plate (which was usually filled with rice, beans, eggs, and tortillas), so when I had some sliced avocado—straight from the tree in the courtyard—I finally learned to love the mushy vegetable/fruit.
- In Kauai, a few minutes after walking by some taro fields in Hanapepe, I stopped by a taro chips factory that was run out of a dimly-lit kitchen in a run-down house. When I walked in, the owner seemed almost confused to see a customer—and then was elated when he found out that I had come all the way from New York, where it was snowing at the time! I bought a bag, and the chips were a little too oily for my taste, but I’ll never forget that humble little operation.
- In Cape May, New Jersey, I loved the veggie polenta cakes at the otherwise unexciting Bella Vida Garden Cafe. Perhaps it was because I had been biking all day and waiting crankily outside on a bench until the restaurant opened for its early-bird special, but that was one satisfying meal.