I am a vegetarian and I love food.
I relish spending my hard-earned money in restaurants [in addition to finding good produce and cooking for friends and family at home]. Let me say it again - I love food !!! and I love eating out !!!!!!!
Lately though, (and I blame it on getting older - who says age brings wisdom and maturity??), I find that my visits to restaurants are getting more and more fraught and I often leave the restaurant wanting to thump someone !!
This , despite the fact, that London is fantastic for vegetarians. Unlike in Paris or Madrid, no one looks at you like you have a communicable disease when you say you are vegetarian. And you often get a lot more than a meal fit for cows !! A veggie can take his or her pick from the capital's finest and humblest restaurants - from those serving the ubiquitous mushroom risotto to those serving a Southern Indian speciality Dosa to those others serving burritos, fajitas, veggie sausages or the humble chip.
Then why do I still find myself complaining instead of being grateful, you ask !!
Well, because there are over 5 million vegetarians in the U.K. alone. If my friendly restaurateur wants to make money by serving 'vegetarian' food and I'm paying for it, I really do expect to get something good and something vegetarian. I find myself getting more and more reluctant to pay good money at a supposedly "good restaurant" and then figuring out , much to my dismay, that dishes labelled with the all-inclusive 'V' sign aren't really veggie-friendly.
Call me picky and fussy , but I find it hard to part with my money and then provide the table entertainment by spending half my meal-time at the restaurant (irritating my fellow diners) asking what seem like 'moronic' questions to waiting staff who wish they could stuff a turkey down the vegetarian's throat and get me to shut up !!
But being a serious veggie, I often find that I have no choice other than to be the table imbecile, who's trying to be awfully polite but asking the most annoying questions.
Is that supposedly-'vegetarian' risotto made using chicken stock ? Do you cook the veggie burger in the meat juices on your grill? Do you fry my veggie chips in the same oil as the meaty hors d'ouvres and the deep-fried squid?
Is this 'suitable for vegetarians'- labelled dish really vegetarian? It says it contains oyster sauce or that its made with Parmesan cheese. ("What's wrong with Parmesan cheese - for Christ's sake !!??, I hear my carnivore mates asking, shaking their heads in amazement at my silly question). Well most Parmesan contains animal rennet made using calves liver !! So, did you,Mr Restaurateur, really go out of your way to buy a vegetarian Parmesan to cook with?
Or (I hear the little niggly, meddlesome voice in my head asking) 'did you just mark that vegetarian because it sounded like it might be vegetarian and you thought the 'V' sign looked pretty and you thought you might thug me out of my money but serve me some tosh as the vegetarian option??'?..
And my horrified carnivore friends understandably hang their heads in misery and go " oh no, the fussy veggie strikes again!!")
This blogs charts the culinary highs, lows (and the many mediocre) moments of my fussy veggie jaunts around London . It owes a huge debt of gratitude to my friends, colleagues and family who still put up with me and my fussiness and still accept my invitations to 'dinner out' . Its also a time to acknowledge my debt to patient waiting staff who didn't bash me on the head or spit on my plate (well, who knows?? Maybe they did !!)
P.S. If you need to get in touch with me with suggestions of places to review, you can reach me at fussyveggie at googlemail.com. Please post any other comments directly alongside the relevant review !!