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What I Learned at WordCamp Part 3

Continued from Part 2

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Photo Credit: John Uit

The third thing I learned at WordCamp 2015: I’m a closet Vegan.

My first exposure to being vegan occurred over twenty years ago. While working at a summer camp, I noticed one of my charges had dry, cracked lips, so bought her a Chapstick at the camp store. (Vegan readers…wait for it…)

When her mom arrived for pickup, she took one look at her daughter’s healing mouth and turned to me. “Did you give her something to put on her lips?”

I smiled and handed her the lip balm. “Yes, Ma’am; don’t worry—I bought her a new tube.”

She. Went. Postal.

Shocked beyond words, I stood mute as she blasted me for not calling her first. A naive eighteen, it never occurred to me that she’d be anything but happy her kid’s lips were no longer bleeding.

“We’re Vegan. This is against our beliefs. Bees made the wax.”

I didn’t know what she meant.

Vegan…like Spock on Star Trek? No…wait. That’s Vulcan.

Searched mental files…nope, nothing.

After she relaxed a bit, I asked her to tell me more about it. To me, a committed omnivore, the vegan way sounded a little crazy.

Two decades later, I still consider eating a TRYathlon.

If it’s edible, it’s fair game. New food? I’m in. (This is why I gained 15 lbs during a month in Trinidad.)

Lovers of all things fuzzy, close your eyes for this next sentence: in Peru, I checked out a local delicacy—guinea pig ravioli.

I say this not to induce death threats from PETA but to prove that I will, in fact, taste almost anything once. Chocolate covered ants are high on my “try it” list.

If you told my camp-counselor-self that I’d someday adore vegetarian or vegan dishes, I might have laughed. It’s true, though. This try-all-foods-at-least-once attitude has led me to love meatless meals.

Attending WordCamp US brought me to a life-altering culinary discovery.

At lunch on Friday (FYI, the food was FABULOUS), I spooned a couple different Philly-cheesesteak-style meats onto my plate without checking the tags.

One of them was the most tender, fall-apart-in-your-mouth beef I’ve ever had.

I raved about it to my friend Ruth, who laughed.

That meat…wasn’t.

Apparently there’s this thing I’d never heard about. Seitan. Ruth, attempting to assist me in pronunciation, explained that it sort of sounds like “satan.”

Me: “So. Somebody chopped the devil into little bits and it tastes like heaven. Who knew?” 

Ruth: Eye roll. (All my friends have this same weird tic. So strange.)

Per Google:

sei·tan
ˈsāˌtan
noun: seitan
  1. a high-protein vegetarian food made from cooked wheat gluten.
Origin
origin uncertain: perhaps from Japanese shokubutsusei tanpaku ‘vegetable protein.’

I understand “cooked wheat gluten” and “vegetable protein” don’t sound enticing—or, for that matter, even palatable. But trust me on this one. Go back and look at that picture above. Yep, seitan. It’s mouth-watering.

Friday evening, I had seitan prepared to taste like chicken. MMMM. At Saturday’s lunch, seitan barbecue. SO good.

I ate a LOT of seitan, skipping “real” meat for the rest of the weekend. Having had…occasional issues…with new foods, I had concerns about potential…repercussions. I’m happy to report that all systems remained in proper working order.

Unless you’re allergic to wheat/gluten, you’ve gotta try it.

Researching my new obsession, I’ve found several recipes to make seitan at home. I haven’t attempted yet (mostly because my kitchen has been upside-down for the last month, but that’s a post for another day). Although you can buy it prepared, DIY sounds more fun.

Check out the Post Punk Kitchen for an apparently foolproof recipe. Isa has a number of other vegan recipes that look incredibly yummy.

For many reasons, I feel extremely fortunate to have had the chance to attend WordCamp US 2015 (and if you’re interested in attending next year, click here for a 2016 ticket. Trust me; the food alone is worth the price).

Finding a unique new fare might not be a major motivating factor for you, but it’s just one of many great reasons to attend.

I mean, where else can you cut the devil into tiny little pieces and chow down?

Wait. Did you just roll your eyes?

You should totally get that tic checked.

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