You are a hard-core meat eater. A myriad collection of animal bits and pieces populate your dreams. You have taken a special someone out for a good meal to that awesome place you know of. Your guest turns out to be vegetarian…. boom… Decision time – Eat your favourite juicy, meaty, perhaps RED delicacy you had been dreaming of for the past hour and kill the date. Or kill that truest part of your being and concede to palate bland food that you decree to be fit only for cattle.
Are there only two choices??? Must I fall victim no matter what I choose?? There has to be another option.
In this blog I explore vegetarian food that is palatable by us hard-core carnivores. Food that while being intrinsically vegetarian, has that full, rich sharp and sometimes pungent flavours that we crave.
With this blog in your hands, or perhaps pockets, it should not matter whether you are stuck in a vegetarian relationship or been told to be off meat for good, you will be able to find food that, while veg will somewhat assuage your meat cravings.
Lets start with something simple. Pasta and Fries. The cafe I’m taking you guys out to is one of my favourites – Sienna cafe on Hindustan road, Kolkata.
The first thing that will hit you when you enter is surprise. Outside it looks like an ordinary handicrafts store. Walk down the main corridor of the store, and it transfers very organically into a cafe. Its hard to tell where the store ends and the cafe begins. The cafe creates the illusion of being out doors. While technically being outside the main building, you would be forgiven to think you were really outdoors. The entire area is covered by a translucent plastic roof which itself is cleverly hidden my thick leaves and hanging lanterns. The only thing that tips you off, that all is not as it seems is that even though you are outside, there is air conditioning.
You can make out by just entering the cafe area that sienna if definitely part pottery store. The tables are asymmetrically shaped and tiled with turquoise ceramic. Candles burn in turquoise candle holders and ceramic lanterns of many shapes hang from above. The food too is served in turquoise and blue bowls. There are very few things in sienna that isn’t turquoise.
Coming to the food- our main focus. 2 dishes. 1. Potato fries and 2. Pesto fettuccini.
I admit potato fries does not sound too exiting, but trust me, sienna’s fries are a different beast altogether. In fact, the first time my mom brought me here and ordered fries I groaned. I never enjoyed the Mc Donalds style French fries with ketchup, and I expected the same . I was wrong.
The potato fries came in a terracotta mug. At first glance they looked like regular fries, but looking closer they were different. They were lightly batter fried. And boy, did the batter change everything. Well, yes they were oily, but were darker and far more full bodies that their counterparts and they had a very solid satisfying crunch to it. Add to that the homemade Naga chilli dip which came with it, I was hooked.
It had all the salty crunch, the pungency which made a meat eater like me supremely blissful.
Next is the pesto fettuccini. Now if you don’t know what fettuccini is , its a pasta that is long like spaghetti, but instead of being rounded and noodle-like, it is flat. Practically two dimensional.
And pesto, if you don’t know is a grainy sauce/paste made of ground nuts and in this instance, flavoured with basil.
Pesto and pasta is a classic combination for a reason, it has a very strong distinctive flavour and a very interestingly meaty texture – it is at the same time rough and grainy, as it is smooth and gooey. It is also very full bodied and rather heavy.
Obviously nothing quite replaces meat, but this was a very good alternative. My date was happy, and I was really enjoying my food too, without my carnivore conscience crying foul.