Friday, March 17, 2006

Job, Food and Thoughts

I finally got to match the faces and the personalities to the bylines! The reporters, editors and photographers seem like a cool, chatty and fun group of people. Even the obituary writer didn’t seem as morose as I thought she’d be, having to deal with death announcements every single day.

So yesterday we had a photo shoot in the morning, for a new ad campaign for the Southern. The models were the employees.

Everyone (myself included) filed out of the office at 11A.M. and had to hold up placards that pointed to where we lived. Mine said 'Carbondale'. But I was amazed to see that everyone had a different town on their placards, ranging from Benton, to Murphysboro, Marion, and Herrin. Seems like the Southern is the principal media-related employer in this region and people are willing to drive the distance across towns and rivers to get to work.

Had a working lunch at this restaurant called 'Thai Taste'. It’s the only Thai restaurant here and is pretty darn good on my exacting ‘yumminess’ scale. The best part of it all is the prices of course. For about five bucks, you get to choose an exotic sounding main dish which comes with a free iced tea, soup of the day and a spring roll! These are lunch prices (dinner is more expensive, as is the case everywhere), but unbeatable in terms of the sheer bang for the buck they give you.

So I had my favorite Thai dish called 'Chicken Cashews' - being vegetarian, I had to ask the waitress to replace Chicken with Tofu - which they readily did. Funny, huh? But I like this place because I can order most items from the menu and just get the meat replaced with Tofu.

When I first came to the States, I remember being so disappointed with the food scene. I was in Bloomington, IN and discovered that 99% of the menus in 95% of the restaurants in town were meat dishes.

I'd usually be left with one or if I was lucky two items that were vegetarian. These usually included a garden burger and a garden salad. Two things that I didn’t much care for.

This meant that I had to haunt the farmer's market and the grocery stores and learn some cooking in order to eat some decent vegetarian food.

Things have changed now and Bloomington has its own vegetarian restaurant today - 'Roots'. I remember walking into 'Mississippi Flyaway' in Carbondale for lunch one day and browsing through the impressive six page menu. I couldn't find a single vegetarian item.

I asked the waitress what options I had and she said, "Practically none". So I had to finally settle for cheese toast that day at the restaurant.

Then there would be the weird questions, "Oh you're vegetarian, but that means you eat seafood right?"

"No, I don’t do sea food. That fish you're dangling near my face is still an animal you know!"

I remember being on an International flight once and having to deal with seafood in my “vegetarian meal”. I called the flight attendant.

“Excuse me, but I don’t think this is vegetarian,” I said.

“Oh that’s just Shrimp. Of course it’s vegetarian!” said the attendant.

It’s all psychological of course. In my head it’s a living, breathing animal that was slaughtered so that it could one day grace my plate. That’s something I cannot live with personally. I understand the arguments of all my meat eating friends, but hell, this is the way I am. I just can’t eat meat and that’s the way it is.


Shree said...

Hey! Sounds like a cool place to work. It is so important to have a good work environment. Have fun at work.
I am trying to give up meat and stick to fish (As the Americans think fish is not meat). Some of the facts on how they actually treat these animals in the farms and slaughter houses are really gruesome. Like someone said, if "slaughter houses were made of glass, no one would eat meat". Well, that so true..
I can go one on this topic ---
Take care, have a good weekend.

Brian said...

We had a group of people over from Delhi a couple weeks ago for all-day meetings the whole week. Knowing that there were 5 or 6 vegetarians in our meetings (some based here and some of our guests), the lunches were ordered to have meat and vegetarian options.

Well, the last day was a Friday during Lent, and all the dishes were vegetarian... except every single one of them was fish or seafood! I knew that there would be plenty of hungry people, as the only edible food items were rolls and cheesecake.

Funny thing is... the guy who arranged the meals was a vegetarian! Guess there were some lessons learned that day.

We made it up to them later, as that evening they were all treated to some excellent Italian food (at Bravo's)... and there were several good vegetarian options available from the menu (no tofu substitutions necessary, lol).

poornima said...

>>if "slaughter houses were made of glass, no one would eat meat">>
Wow, I love that quote Shree. I dont see why you're trying to give up meat though. Why make it harder on yourself than you need to.
Like I wish sometimes that I could just eat meat - then I wouldnt feel so disappointed every time I go into a restaurant. But then I just can't bring myself to and therein lies the problem.

poornima said...

Hey Brian, that is so hilarious! Yeah I've often found myself in similar situations - with nothing to eat at barbeques and certain parties. Of course I've learnt my lessons now and inform my hosts well in advance that I'm vegetarian and that means no meat or fish for me.

Sunitha said...

Like Hugh Grant says in Notting Hill " ...those carrots were murdered mercilessly..."

poornima said...

Ooooh yeah! Carrots indeed! How're you coping with the no egg no chicken thingie because of the bird flu scare? I know my mom misses her eggs in the morning!

Shree said...

I have actually seen a number of these animal farms in the US and they are really bad. I did this as part of my study (Social Marketing Campaigns) when I was in NY. Somehow, whenever I see meat these days it reminds me of those farms and I just don’t feel like eating meat.
Though, I do agree there are very few options for vegetarian people when they go out to eat. My cousin sister, who is a Vegan practically finds nothing to eat when she goes out to eat. Wish the restaurants’ have more vegetarian dishes on the menu.
BTW, have you or anyone tried potato patties (Indian style)? I have the recipe and it is very easy to make it at home.
Just buy Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry sheets and stuff them with potato subzi. Bake it till the puffs get brown and Walla!!!! Try it if you haven’t tried it before.

poornima said...

Thanks Shree. I remember watching this TV Show while I was in India. It was hosted by Maneka Gandhi, the famous animal rights activist.
She'd take the viewer through slaughter houses and breeding farms and highlight what cruel fates animals suffered.
Yeah Nanu and I have made potato patties at home with bread crumbs on top to give them that extra crunch. But your recipe sounds very intriguing and easy to make. Will try it out one of these days.

abbyladybug said...

You are a woman of integrity, Miss P!

poornima said...