Thursday, December 20, 2012

Have yourself a local, sustainable, vegan, zero carbon footprint Holiday.

Looking at recent surveys by firms interested in having people eat less meat, the trends are revealing that more and more of you are choosing Tofurky over Turkey for your holiday meal.  Given that I'm a hard-core omnivore you might think that this news would discourage me. The fact is that couldn't be further from the truth if it was presented in pie-graph form by His Royal Highness Al Gore.

That's right, I'm happy that fewer or you are deciding to take a nibble out of Tom Turkey or that you've decided chomping on Wilbur's rump roast is a bad idea.  What this all means is, in the long run, lower prices for me when I decide that a nice juicy steak from Bevo's rib region is to be on my evening menu.

As a matter of fact, I heartily support the movement of the foodBorg from actual, tasty food to artisanal foodstuffs produced by former hippies using only seeds, stems, sticks and leaves.  Eventually this means I'm going to be able to enjoy a meal at Underbelly with only a few people stopping mid-meal to take a flash photo of their food, thus blinding those sitting next to them and making the overall experience much less enjoyable. The way I see it the more diners of an Eating our Words bent that decide to gnaw on tree stems the better off the legitimate Houston dining scene will become for those of us who have no issue noshing on something we might have pet as a child at the petting zoo.

Despite my general avoidance of foodBorg types I would like to offer them something in the way of a Holiday season public service.  It has to do with your fascination, and confusion, over chalk-board menus being in anyway at all related to ecomental eating.

If you think almost every restaurant has some type of hand-written looking menu on a chalk (or white) board these days you wouldn't be too far off base.  In Houston you see food-carts setting up a-frame boards in the middle of the sidewalk, vendors at food markets have them everywhere, restaurants have them plastered on the wall, and even Starbucks and McDonalds are getting in on the act. (to be fair, Starbucks has been there for a long time.)

For some unknown reason foodies flock to places like this, I guess feeling that any menu written in chalk has to be something that's toiled upon daily, and that the artwork and pretty colors at Starbucks are spontaneously created by the local baristas and not shipped in from the corporate office or created using nothing more than glorified color-by-numbers stencils.  Of course, the vegan set will tell you that Starbucks is a different kind of company, one whose mission is the betterment of the world one cup at a time.  Hard-core Eating Our Words readers will state that they never touch Starbucks unless at a last resort, say, a time that they're about to die due to caffeine withdrawal.

In an effort to end this confusion over what is artesanal and what is not might I offer the following suggestion.  Given that the economy is sputtering along and people need jobs, restaurants of a ecological bent should employ the pretty unemployed people to act as temporary menu boards.  You see this on the streets of Houston every day, people standing their with iPods in place waving signs asking you to come and either buy gold, get one month free rent, or to visit some pawn shop for your holiday shopping.  Of course, the paper signs would be problematic, and that's why you would want to hire pretty people with flat stomachs on whom you could write your daily menu using ink derived from local grasses.  It's nothing that Abercrombie & Fitch haven't done for years, their ink being tribal armband tattoos of course.

This would solve two problems:  It would allow you to better identify which restaurants will have daily specials consisting of twigs in bayou water, and it will decrease the wait time for the rest of us at Starbucks because we won't have to wait five minutes while you repeat endlessly your order of a fair trade, half-caff, low-acid, ran through an elephant's digestive tract, lactose, sugar, artificial sweetener, animal cruelty free, hand processed using only top-of-the-line French presses from the Alsace region, carried on the back of happy yaks from the Nepalese holy mountains Latte w/vanilla almond milk.

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