by Shriniwas Joshi
THE US is one country where the grass eaters like me have enough to eat to maintain the pressure of wind in stomach and the prestige of self-righteousness.
On my short tour to California and Nevada recently, my first halt was San Francisco and the tick-marked vegetarian restaurant started in 1979 was Greens in Fort Mason Harbour. Its chef Anne Somerville has authored Fields of Green containing recipes of several vegetarian dishes.
Prepared with vegetables from organic farms, my a la carte of Mesquite Grilled Brochettes had two skewers. A skewer had a piece each of grilled bell-pepper, potato, red onion, fennel, cherry tomato, marinated tofu, mushroom, green cob served with pumpkin seed brown rice and cabbage slaw. It was a hearty and tasty meal followed by my sweet-tooth fill of chocolate margiuis with raspberry sauce.
The drive on the shore of Pacific from San Francisco to Los Angeles through the California Big Sur segment of Highway is breathtaking. Here a family owned restaurant since 1949 called Nepenthe meaning ‘the one that chases sorrow away’ has a verandah resembling prow of a ship from where the view of the Ocean and Santa Lucia Mountain Range is picture postcard. I had Portobello Mushroom Sandwich with basil, alfalfa sprouts and sliced onions amidst melodious flute rendering of “vaishanav jan to tanne re kahiye” playing there. Basil leaves (tulsi) in vegetarian dishes is commonly used in the US.
I discovered different vegetarian eateries in Los Angeles. Most of the eating joints in Farmers’ Market established in 1939 sell non-vegetarian food. I liked falafel (pakora made of kabuli chana), stuffed grape leaves (cooked rice, onion, mushrooms and peas, in bite-sized pieces; wrapped with grape leaf) and taftoon (wholemeal flat bread) in an Iranian café. The best sweet dish here is a pack of mixed fruit in yogurt available with the fruit sellers.
The dinner was in an Ethiopian restaurant where they sell Injera reminding me of Himachali patanda. The bread is made of teff, a highland Ethiopian grain. Injera is not only a food but also the plate on which daal, tomato juliennes, a cooked vegetable and chutney is served. No chinaware, glassware or cutlery. Ethiopians use hands to feed the mouth. Indonesian restaurant Ramayani in Westwood area here served me bhaat and tofu and green vegetable in lunch the next day. The Indians chop the greens really fine. Most other nations cook the greens almost as grown by Mother Nature. I feel that we are ahead of others in vegetarian cooking at least.
A visitor to Las Vegas must attend a buffet there. I was at buffet dinner in Planet Hollywood Hotel. There was plenty to choose from the vegetarian cuisine and plenty to eat. My problem was to adjust the square meal in the small round Indian belly. How I wished that it matched with the one possessed by my American friend! But when I thought loud that the USA had enough to spend 100 billion dollars per annum to fight the ills of obesity alone, my friend said, “Consuming too many calories is not the only cause for obesity as Boston Tea Party is not the only reason for American Revolution.” I forgot the count of his immediate visit to the serving stations.
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