Ok, now for the really embarrassing veggie DNC news … what made us look like idiots in front of the veggie world ….
(drumroll please) …. The Charlotte Observer!
First up – The Observer’s food critic Helen Schwab and her recommendations of places to dine. Helen’s been writing restaurant reviews for The Observer for the past 100 years (ok, so I am exaggerating – but only slightly) and it’s easy to predict the restaurants she likes. They’re pricey, pretentious, with few if any veggie options and usually feature what I consider “excessively cruel” meats like veal and foie gras. (The two restaurants she recommended in my area of town, Zebra and Barrington’s, don’t even have ONE token vegetarian – much less vegan – main dish! And both feature – you guessed it – veal and foie gras.)
Helen rarely recommends ethnic restaurants (which are more likely to have veggie options) and when she does, it’s those restaurants that are so pricey and trendy and Americanized they hardly count as ethnic anymore.
And she rarely makes note of vegetarian/vegan options (or gluten free options, which are also a big concern to many these days). When she does, she usually gets it wrong.
Case in point: Copper, an expensive Indian restaurant doing big business because the dishes are geared to an American, not Indian, palate. Lots of meat, tons of seafood – and all of it very, very mildly spiced. Of course, Helen loves it, and adds, “Note to vegetarians … you’ll find some out-of-the-ordinary options.” Maybe so, but let’s also note Copper has far, far fewer vegetarian options than any other Indian restaurant in Charlotte! And when vegetarians go to an Indian restaurant, they’re expecting a looong list of vegetarian options.
Helen also makes the mind-boggling ignorant statement, “Servers sometimes know that methi uses fenugreek.” Sweetheart, methi IS fenugreek!
I’m not meaning to rag on Copper. They’re going after a certain segment of the market, and succeeding. (And, like most Indian restaurants in Charlotte, if you want a vegan dish they are more than happy to make you one.) But it’s time for The Observer to put Helen out to pasture. I cringe at the thought of vegetarians and vegans coming in for the DNC and taking her dining suggestions. Fortunately, both Charlotte Magazine and Creative Loafing have much better food critics … who often give vegetarian pointers … and then there’s always Google reviews and Yelp.
One last note about Helen and her disparaging attitude towards vegetarians … in her summary of Lupie’s Cafe, she recommends “Coughing hot chili (with meat, beans, vegetarian soy whatever-it-is).” Yep, vegetarian soy whatever-it-is. Pretty much says it all, no?
The other way The Charlotte Observer embarrassed vegetarians and vegans? (And pretty much everyone else in Charlotte?)
By proclaiming, “Charlotte is known for LIVERMUSH.”
Livermush? Really, Elizabeth Leland?
I know Charlotte is a meat-eating city, with most of our Christian churches hawking BBQ at least once a year, but … livermush?
For those that don’t know, livermush is made from pig’s liver, cornmeal, spices, and “head parts” (like snouts and lips). It’s believed to have been brought over to NC by German settlers and gained popularity during the Civil War, when Southerners had to make food or anything resembling food stretch just as far as possible.
My mother ate livermush growing up – keep in mind, my mom is 77 now!
I remember my mom making me a livermush sandwich just once growing up – with mayo on white bread, served with a glass of powdered milk. I threw it up. At the table. On the table. And I didn’t even know it contained “head parts.”
That was 35 years ago. I do not see livermush in the grocery stores (of course, I’m not looking, but I do know it never appears in the Harris Teeter weekly ads). I do not see it on menus when I go out to eat. None of my friends eat it. In fact, most people my age do not even know what it is. The people who remember it tend to be the 65+ crowd.
But Elizabeth Leland proclaims, “Folks in these parts swear by livermush and grits.” FOLKS? These parts? Who talks like that?!!
She also writes, “I left Charlotte in search of the delicacy and ended up 45 miles away in the town of Fallston.” 45 miles away in Fallston. Yeah. Not exactly the Charlotte-metro region.
She then watches Fitzhugh McMurry make livermush. (He just happens to be 72, by the way. Coincidence?) And, “The only place you’ll find Fitzhugh McMurry’s mush is in the meat case at McMurry Store and Farms on NC 18 near the only traffic light in Fallston.”
Kathleen Purvis, food editor for The Charlotte Observer – who seems to be the only one at The Observer with sense – says, “It’s a rural thing. It’s not a city thing.” Right. RURAL. Charlotte is not rural anymore. Hasn’t been for a long, long time. In fact, Charlotte is the 17th largest city in the United States.
So, anyway, THAT is the impression The Charlotte Observer gave to everyone coming into town for the DNC Convention.
That folks in these here parts just love veal and foie gras.