Plate licking good food

I like my food. Make that I love my food. There’s a television series at the moment with Jamie Oliver making vegetarian and vegan food without compromising on flavour.
The words in italics aren’t mine, they are used in the trailer by an anonymous voice. They are enough to stop me watching what may be a good programme with great recipes. The implied message is that vegetarian and vegan food is tasteless. What nonsense. They also suggest that these programmes are aimed at meat eaters. Wouldn’t it be nice if us vegetarians and vegans had a cookery programme aimed just at us, presented by reputable vegetarian and vegan chefs who don’t deal in analogue (fake) meats. One day.

Last Monday I went with my neighbour Helena to Broadway market where she was investigating a shop, normally a butcher’s, that was holding a vegan meat day. At the door a very nice woman offered me a vegan chicken nugget. Um, I said, I don’t eat chicken. Don’t worry, it’s vegan, she said. I tried it. It had a meaty texture and I wouldn’t want it again, but the dip was nice. Do you think it tastes like chicken? she asked. Um,again. I haven’t eaten meat for fifty years. I really couldn’t say. We had a chat. I explained that for me fake meat is an anathema. I can understand its purpose for people who struggle to give up meat, but that’s not me. Why on earth would I want to eat a fake version of something I didn’t like and don’t miss in the first place? She saw my point.

As autumn has tipped from being very Keatsian into something cooler, greyer and wetter, so my menus have undergone subtle changes. It’s still the season of mellow fruitfulness with a wonderful cornucopia of fresh produce to choose from, and quinoa salad has yet to pack its bags and settle under the duvet for winter, but soups, risottos and so on are suddenly more attractive.
I’ve been tucking into lentil and celeriac shepherd’s pie with lots of kale and leeks. Crumble (apple, blackberry, rhubarb) has become the pudding of choice. The other night I had said shepherd’s pie with kale, roast beetroot and onion gravy. It was heaven. I made my first celeriac risotto with a lemon oil and sage leaves. Delicious. I’ll be making that again. I have eaten quantities of noodles with green veg, tomatoes, mushrooms, spring onions and tofu. Fresh figs make the perfect snack.

Finger-licking good? How meagre, how half-hearted. This food is plate-licking good.