Never mind Christmas without a drink
how about also
going without a turkey?
Not eating anything that once had
a face seems to just about cover the Vegetarian Society's manifesto.
kindly invited me to sample Xmas lunch veggie-style this week at their grand headquarters
in a Victorian mansion in Cheshire.
There was a Carol
playing and there were crackers on the table as we tucked into a mincemeat muffin.
I had a plastic spinning top in my cracker, but immediately gave it to the young
reporter from the local paper who kept eyeing me up as though I was about to produce
a string of sausages from my trouser pocket. The scrumptious muffin contained
self-raising flour, baking powder, caster sugar, sunflower oil, water, mincemeat,
demerara sugar and cinnamon. Notice that. No dairy products. And they were light
as air. I would have had another if I could.
In fact I
could have happily settled down in their library, which has the most fantastic
collection of old, faceless cookery books. One I espied was called "Of leprosy
Then we nibbled on bruschetta with artichokes
and olives. It was just crunchy bread really and the artichokes still tasted of
whatever they had been bottled in, but I did have another.
tried the roast vegetables and smoked tofu plait, but I don't think I have the
nimble fingers of the Cordon Vert Cookery School's charming principal, Lyn Weller.
Anyway, you can get special scissors to cut pastry into a plait-like thing like
that. Lyn said she didn't approve of them because the plaits then looked like
they were bought in a shop. That doesn't bother me. Perhaps someone will buy me
some for Christmas.
The stuffed mushroom parcels looked
sort of Chinese, but they had a blob of cranberry sauce on top of the apple and
herb stuffing and would have been OK with some sloppy sauce.
liked the mincemeat, apple and apricot crumble tart, especially the apricots which
had been soaked in a drop of brandy overnight.
there were Christmas Pudding Truffles, made with digestive biscuits all crumbled
up, raisins and nuts. They were decorated with small pieces of white marzipan
rolled into uneven shapes and pressed on top to resemble icing. Bits of glace
cherry resembled berries and there was angelica to look like holly. Hot rum sauce
would have been nice to go with these rum, gentlepeople.
of the society has been rising rapidly with all the recent food scares and they
get lots of calls from anxious mothers whose teenage daughters have decided to
forsake the family diet. They tell them not worry and say it's not as though you'll
have to use separate pans or anything.
They do a nice
line in organic wine, of course. But I noticed there wasn't a pub anywhere nearby
in the rolling Cheshire countryside, which I gather is a bit of a pain for the
alcoholically-challenged guests who stay there to do a week's cookery course.
It reminded me of when I was young and a fervent campaigner
for Real Ale. You know that entire obsession to the point of tedium about where
everything comes from. Still, I went through that phase with beer and I still
do with food except I don't mind whether it was brought home dead or alive.
in Ibiza I shared a lobster with a wife (the one like a lap dancer with a wet
face) and it waved goodbye to us as the waiter fished it from a tank of seawater
near our table and hauled it to the kitchen. I suppose lobsters do have faces,
but I've never really looked one in the eye.
once had a live lobster and decided to be humane and end its days by hammering
a six-inch nail through the back of its neck, rather than boiling it alive.
heard her screams, though not the lobster's, as the nail went right through and
embedded itself in the wooden chopping board and the poor crustacean scurried
around and around in a circle for about five minutes.
that could make even me want to be a veggie.
The Vegetarian Society of the UK is the oldest organisation of its kind in the
world and was formed in 1847. They promote the best of vegetarian cooking through
their own Cordon Vert Cookery School, which is a very clever name and the home
of vegetarian cooking. The school holds courses throughout the year for everyone
and focuses on differing cuisine, including Turkish, Italian, Middle Eastern and
Thai. The society HQ is at Parkdale, Dunham Road, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 4QG,
telephone +44 161 925 2000. Website: www.vegsoc.org. Most of the LiveIbiza.com
team are vegetarians, but Gary and I are not and have been known to eat sobrasada
sausages for breakfast. Lyn Weller's new book, "Simply good food,"
costs £17.99 which is about the price of a lobster with a face.