Locally Grown

Artificial Dissemination (Attn Vegans)

Happy Tuesday, all…or as I like to call it “The Day I Finally Forget Last Thursday.” This is usually my grumpiest day of the week (well, at least the grumpiest day of the week I am allowed in public).  This morning was a little different than other Tuesday mornings…or so it seemed…

(Note to Michael Libbe:  Maybe if you have me return to your show, we should try it on a Tuesday.  I would probably be at the normal rumored level of grumpiness)

So I wake up and realize that the bedroom temperature has bottomed out at around 60 degrees, and even wrapped up in a down comforter the shivers could not be shaken. (I have strategically placed window air units in the Pink House, which was built in 1886…a few years before the cool sins of central air were felt. One of them is thigh-high and four feet from my bed.)  The heat-oppression of the past few days has kept me running to turn the air colder and colder.  ok, you get it.  It was cold. (tangental modulation) I walk out into the kitchen heat-wave to turn on my daily NPR soundtrack and feed my Editor and the World’s Second-Most Storm Shy Dog.  I check on the prep for Taco Tuesday (which I am serving my new recipe Vegan Chorizo tacos on hand made corn tortillas with cortida, a Salvadorian slaw…or you can have the braised pork tacos which I also made…at the Cumming Tap [117 N 44th St. Cumming, Iowa 50061] tonight from 4 until 10ish. A good chance to try out my cooking for the uninitiated.  Yes, I can put my money where my mouth is, but tacos are much better tasting and contain 100% less contaminates.  Come out to the Tap tonight for tacos!)  All temperatures checked out, and I thought it about time to have a little sample of my new soy chorizo recipe.  Excellent, it turned out even better than I had hoped.  So far this is playing out like that Ice Cube song.  So fast forward a little to my first Twitter check of the day.  What do I see?

(From Twitter)


@GatewayMarket will serve vegan fair-inspired food. From @DatebookDiner: http://is.gd/ebAvW

Sounds good, as I am in the mood for both the State Fair and some Vegan food, so I click on the link.  It takes you to the blog of our Illustrious Datebook Diner, .   This is what it held:

(From the Datebook Diner Blog)

More from Christopher Diebel [Orchestrate Information/Marketing administerer- ed.]. It seems that Gateway Market is going to offer vegan fair food at the market (not the fair)….I suppose it’s a way for vegans to not feel left out. Anyway, this is by no means an endorsement [good call, DD], but here’s the info, from Diebel:

In honor of the Iowa State Fair, Gateway Market will feature three vegetarian takes on classic fair staples. From August 11-22, café patrons can try a vegetarian gyro, tenderloin, or grinder for $7.50 (includes fries). Chef George Formaro and his culinary team have been working on these unique recipes for weeks and can’t wait to debut them for the 2010 fair season. Please see full descriptions below:

  • Seitan Gyro– Seasoned slices of seitan with yogurt sauce, onion, tomato, feta cheese and shredded lettuce on Gateway flatbread.
  • Iowas Best Tenderloin– Breaded and fried veggie patty on an South Union egg bun with pickles, onion and tomato.
  • State Fair Veggie Grinder– Seasoned tempeh sausage, secret sauce and mozzarella cheese on South Union hoagie bun.

**Each served with fries for $7.50 during lunch and dinner.

Seems kind of suspicious…Egg Bun, Yogurt, Feta and Mozzarella Cheese.  These items are not Vegan, but they ARE Vegetarian.  For those of you who are not sure of the difference between the two here is the lowdown, in my words:

A person who practices Veganism or is a Vegan subsists on a diet solely of vegetable-based foods, taking special care not to purchase, wear, or ingest any animal based products.  Simplified, a Vegan does not eat any meat, dairy, fish, or egg products and does not wear any leather or other animal hides.

This differs from a Vegetarian in that Vegetarians may choose to eat eggs (ovo-) or dairy products (Lacto-), and some do not shy away from wearing animal hides.

So what has happened here, besides some very lackluster menu item naming, is that somewhere along the line (and I am pretty sure it wasn’t the Gateway Market kitchen or Chef Formaro) someone got their facts a little futzed up, leading to a widely dispersed mis-information bomb.  When Vegans hear about something culinarily new, it’s exciting and they will get our there and try it…and if this “new thing” is disappointing, they will make sure all of their friends know about the problem.  When you start throwing around the word Vegan when you clearly don’t know (or seem to care) what you are talking about, people’s feelings and stomachs get hurt (try eating dairy after abstaining for a few years…it’s not pretty), not to mention the hurt put on the trust for the restaurant in question.

So, I will leave it to you, the reader, to peruse through the chain of information presented and make your decision as to where the breakdown happened. (hint: listen for the chugga chugga part and watch for kids in khaki shorts, running shoes, and straight edge t-shirts to start spin-kicking)

This was all meant to be a word of warning to the makers, advertisers, and devourers of Vegan foods out there.  You have to really watch what goes in to not only the food, but the words describing it.  Please, take care to learn about Vegan and Vegetarian and present them properly.  The Veg-Heads out there insist on/deserve it.

Grumpily Yours,

The Cook.

Don’t forget to come out for some tacos and to share some of my cooking.  Most of you out there only know me from the words emanating from the interschweb.  Let us fix that problem!

Tomorrow night there is a State Fair bike ride from Orlondo’s on Park Ave to The Cumming Tap starting at 6 pm.  I will be there, you should be too. Or show up after the parade.

Yeah, I haven’t figured out the connection between today supposedly being different from other Tuesdays and this article either.  In fact, it is a pretty stock Tuesday so far.  I would have to say it was a good day...


8 Comments so far
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So excited about Gateway’s vegetarian offerings! Food writers and restaurateurs need to be more careful about how they promote items. My last blog post told about Stella’s menu, which features a kosher Nathan’s hot dog. Nathan’s hasn’t made a kosher dog for years. It’s great that more places are trying to cater to specific diets, I’d just like to see more of them get it right.

Comment by Jarad Bernstein

Loving this post. As a vegan, it is quite frustrating when people do not understand the proper meaning. Many of them think it is the same as vegetarian. I can’t tell you how many times I ask if something is vegan or not and then I have to proceed to explain what I do not eat – especially when talking with people that are supposedly culinary experts. From a fellow Iowan blogger…

Comment by Amanda @ Vegacious

I can’t wait to meet you sir, that being said it won’t be tonight.

Now I must weigh in on the server side of this dietary debate. First of all I appreciate your dilema, it is hard in a restaurant to even get all of the service staff to know about the menu items, let alone the specials, and it’s a whole nother ball of wax getting them to sell specials. Even as a server who cares about the ingredients in the food and the steps taken in cooking it, it is hard for me to be educated enough about every dish to cater to all of the dietary restrictions that may be set before me.

Here are some basic steps that will make it easier for us to communicate (I’m not being sarcastic here communication is the key).

1. tell me about your issue. There is nothing worse than bringing a childs dish and then having the mom ask “are there nuts in that” like you didn’t know your little one was alergic until I set the plate down. If we keep the lines of communication open there is a much better chance of neither of us seeing an epipen in use tonight.

2. You know your diet/allergy WAY better than I do. I eat just about anything that you set in front of me, from cow’s tougue to pigs ears and lamb heart, none of it bothers me so while I may not think about the chicken stock in the rissoto, this should be something you are already thinking about, just remind me.

3. Allow a little extra time. Now I don’t want you to have to wait all night, but I might have to check with the chef, he might have to check a recipe or the ingredients on something in the storeroom, or get some stuff for other table to free up some time for me to answer certain questions.

4. as the beloved writer of this blog has said before, call ahead, it can never hurt for me to know I will be waiting on a person with a gluten allergy or a group of vegans or a table of Jewish people during passover.

All this being said I’m glad that there are places in Des Moines that are making an attemt to cater to a portion of the population that must feel left out of the dining scene. Kansas City is a much larger area and we do have a few more options, but our whole industry could be a little more caring of those with concerns about what we are producing for them.

Sorry for such a long comment, but it is an issue that we as an industry need to adress and find ways to improve

Comment by Chris

Don’t apologize, Chris. I encourage the fine people of dining to speak up. Diners need a better understanding of what we deal with on our side of the court, it is beneficial to all parties involved.

I value your input, and look forward to meeting you someday down the road.

Comment by locallygrown

Bummer I missed the chorizo tacos, and bummer that they used the word “vegan” incorrectly. I hate when that happens.

That being said, that gyro was bomb (having never had one with real meat before to compare, at least) and the tenderloin was pretty good, too (I think that was their standard veggie burger breaded and fried). The grinder I could take or leave. It’s just too bad that menu items like this aren’t that rare in other cities, but are a special treat here in Dez-Moz.

Comment by maria

I wasn’t very happy with any of the sandwiches, but it could have been in part that we called in the to go order at 7 minutes before close. I am sure, in fact, that played a factor. I would eat any of those offerings if available regularly, but Friday George brought a Vegetarian Gut Buster to his radio show taping, I brought it to the Cafe after and it was gone in thirty seconds. It shows that weakest link in their equation is some of the line cook staff. We actually covered that subject during the show. I will post pics of the sandwich and a link to the radio show Tuesday.

Comment by locallygrown

Oh, you didn’t miss the tacos, they are being served again every Tuesday.

Comment by locallygrown

I know that Kansas City isn’t a huge city by any means, but I am here to tell you that aside from strictly vegetarian restaurants the idea that you could get these three special vegetarian dishes as well as whatever is normally served on the menu is better than you could probably do here.

Comment by Chris

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