The Bread Board
SunCoast ECO Report
Naked Vegetarian
WWW The Green Cutting Board

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Sara's Secret? 

In past columns this writer has had high praise for the culinary excellence exhibited on the Food Network, the cable network responsible for such luminaries of chefdom as Bobby Flay and Mario what's' name who never stops talking, that is to say won't shut up about Italian food. Sadly now it is time to balance that high praise with some even handed and well earned criticism.

I was idly tinkering with preparations for Christmas dinner the other day when my attention was piqued by the mention of vegetarian cooking with Sara Moulton, you know "Executive Chef" of Some Magazine or Other. OK, I agree, I shouldn't be watching if it's only going to upset me. I should just switch channels and watch something like oh...the shopping channel or some other ersatz amusement like that, but I didn't and now I have to write about it. So, I put down my Ginsu knife, always recommended when Sara is going to cook for us Vegetarians and began to watch in earnest as she announced the days episode "How to Cook For the 'Mixed' Family!" She meant of course the "carnivore/vegetarian" type mixed family, which she intoned in a manner somewhat reminiscent of King Herod addressing the "leper" problem. It seems that Sara is racked by despair over the thought of trying to cook something for the veg-head kid who inexplicably presents itself at the family dinner table. As the half hour show began she proceeded to unveil her peculiar solution for this dilemma: a Food Network: Double-Sided Strata with spinach, cheese and sausage prepared in two separate bowls, one with sausage and one without, which is good, that's a good start; sausage strata in one bowl and vegetarian in another. I was only mildly concerned when she kept mixing the still 'separate' contents of each bowl with the same pair of hands, but what the hell it's all in the family, right. Now with increasing incredulity I watched as Sara revealed the chefly genius in her recipe, she intended to bake both stratas in the same casserole dish. Her solution was an ingenious lining of tin foil artfully folded as to raise a dam and thus separate the two versions of the strata a la TV dinner, how cunning, and elegant to boot, only one baking dish to clean. Thus having solved the age old problem of satisfying those picky eaters that inevitably bedevil us cooks Sara blithely proceeded to finish the strata by lovingly pouring a mixture of 2 3/4 cups of milk and 9 whole eggs over the entire casserole and topping with enough cheese to sink a battle ship, both sides mind you thus bridging the gap between carnivore family and veggie family, well, so much for the vegetarian aspects of this meal. All that remains is to pop this baby into a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or so where it will bubble and brown and co-mingle its essence dam be damned (hey, com'on what do you think happens to the oils, liquids and volatiles in a 350 degree oven. For one thing as a vegetarian I don't want my food smelling like meat, I'm sorry, I'm fussy that way), all you have to do is remember which side is the one with the sausage.

To fill the last 5 minutes of the show the host regaled her stunned audience with the reasons vegetarians should be certain to eat lots of legumes, the gist of which escaped me altogether. All I know at this point is that Sara's Secret is that she doesn't know legumes about Vegetarian cooking.

To their credit from time to time the Food Network does render homage to their vegetarian viewers but why must it be so trivialized and done with such a degree of afterthought. If Sara Moulton, who seems to be so without understanding of the principles and art of vegetarian cooking as to offer up this weird recipe, is their best talent then I say that the Food Network needs to pause and reflect on this issue: there is an increasing vegetarian and vegan community out here not to mention companies (read that sponsors) that provide national brand vegetarian food products and they should find a way to offer a reputable Vegetarian/Vegan cooking show. How about it Food Network, when can we expect a no clowns approach to Vegetarian cuisine. Cable networks are after all granted contracts for commercial use of public air waves, in return the public expects responsible, representative community programming, not lip service.


Top of Page


Comments: Post a Comment
Site Meter

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?