Last weekend I attended a two-day conference with my mom and some friends. Our tickets included lunch, but by dinner time I was nearly starved. You see, I have a hard time eating things masquerading as food, or “food-like substances” as Michael Pollan would say. Don’t be confused – I do eat “unhealthy” things on occasion. But if I am going to splurge, you can bet it’s going to be on REAL food. My idea of a treat is a plate of fresh spinach ravioli and homemade marinara with hot bread and spiced olive oil. Its “food-like” equivalent would be a can of Chef Boyardee served with a slice of wonder bread and margarine. I just can’t see or taste the appeal; real ingredients taste best.
Surprisingly, nobody else seemed to care that their lunch was nutritionally void. 50,000 women sat in the arena happily munching away on their food-like substances. The lunch consisted of a turkey sandwich on a white bun, potato chips, a rice krispie-like (plastic-looking) treat, a mini bottle of water, and an apple. I drank the water and ate the tiny and rather tasteless apple (red delicious? my butt…) but couldn’t really stomach the idea of the other stuff. I’ve never considered myself high maintenance or picky until that moment; I felt like the kid who will only eat his sandwich if the crusts are cut off or those snooty ladies who wouldn’t dream of carrying anything but a Coach purse. However, upon further contemplation I came to the conclusion that being picky about food can be a good thing and that I’ve actually trained myself to be this way for a great reason: I want to live a healthy and happy life. It’s that simple.
But I’m not gonna lie – I got grumpy. I guess that’s what happens when I go too long without eating nutrient-dense food. I yearned for my daily salad bowl, filled to overflowing with kale, spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, beans, and countless other delicious foods from the earth. I’m an plant addict: one day without leafy greens and I start going through withdrawals. If I don’t eat a hearty, fruit-filled breakfast I break out in hives and develop flu-like symptoms.
It’s possible I’m exaggerating slightly, but for goodness sake, how do so many people live happy lives while eating garbage? I figured they probably don’t live every day feeling every cell tingling with life, which deeply saddens me. I want everyone to experience it, that feeling of being truly alive, that beautiful and indescribable feeling of health and energy. There has to be a way to fuel that desire in others, so they will taste and see for themselves the joy that is healthy living. In fact, I’m starting to feel as though it may be my life calling – fueling that desire. Honestly I could ramble on about this forever, so back to my story:
Yes, I felt deprived. And HUNGRY. And did I mention grumpy?
Enter my brilliant and wonderful friend, Sheri, who invited me to dinner at…wait for it…an ALL-VEGAN chinese restaurant! Goodbye, deprivation! The place looks unimpressive, in fact, it was bordering on “hole-in-the-wall”, but I’ve found that those are usually the best places to eat. They don’t hide behind immaculate interior design, overpriced menus, or fancy entrees. Nope, its simply all about the food, which has got to be good or they’ve got nothin’.
The first thing I saw was this:
And yes, my heart did leap up into my throat with excitement! I realized later that the sign is for the buffet, not the entire menu, which actually does serve some non-vegan but vegetarian options. Speaking of the menu – it was gigantic! It was at least five pages of the most incredible veggie food I’ve ever heard of. They actually have veggie substitutes for almost any kind of meat you can think of: chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, fish, duck…I was awestruck.
We ordered some appetizers to begin with: egg rolls and dumplings. Both were fab, but I especially enjoyed the egg rolls with an amazing sweet garlic sauce they had at the table.
I was so overwhelmed with options that I couldn’t make up my mind about what to order. I asked the owner, a tiny Asian lady, what she recommended. She said everyone loved the orange chicken, so I went with it.
It was absolutely delicious! I’ve eaten my fair share of orange chicken, and this tasted just like the real deal! I was blown away, not to mention appreciative of the beautiful green broccoli to feed my vegetable habit. My mom got a tofu dish and Sheri order the Beef Lo Mein, both of which were quite tasty.
If only this place were a little closer to me I would go all the time! Unfortunately, it’s an hour and a half drive from my house, so I may not even go ever again. Sad face. Their food proves that you don’t need animal products to have a spectacular meal. And while there were plenty of healthy options, this meal was definitely what I consider to be a treat! I’m not regularly a fan of fried anything, but those egg rolls…*drool*.
Now it’s off to do homework. School is now in full swing and I’m barely finding time to cook, let alone blog. Elesha just got a new and demanding job, so we’re both running around like chickens with our heads cut off. We’re expecting things to settle down a bit and we’ll be able to post more regularly.
Until then, eat at the Suma Veggie Cafe! 🙂
~Becky, a skinnyfat girl