Join 3,513 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Dietary restrictions reframed as sensory surrogates
July 27, 2011 8:01 AM   Subscribe

Doppelgänger Dinners. That was the seed of an idea that grew into our most recent dinner: a 7 course meal with an omnivore and vegetarian option where each corresponding course looked identical across the meat/vegetable line. [...] We also wanted to challenge ourselves by not simply creating a bunch of meat dishes and substituting each meat with tofu or some other protein stand-in. So no repeating of ingredients: if we used basil puree in the veggie dish, then we had to use parsley puree in the meat dish. Studiofeast commits culinary counterfeiting. [via]
posted by shakespeherian (26 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bonus: Time lapse video of the prep & dinner.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:02 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


This looks neat and fun. It would have interesting to be a diner at this event and just see and taste the various concoctions.

Still the idea of having non meat food look like meat seems to have permeated the event. That seems rather boring and subtly implies that one is better than the other. Let the vegetarian dishes be be themselves and not a sight slave to omnivorous.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:15 AM on July 27, 2011


Usually I'm opposed to vegetarian foods that pretend to be meat. However, that's because they pretend to taste like meat. These dishes probably taste very differently between the vegetarian and meat option. In my mind, that makes the attempt to clone the appearance more interesting.

I wonder how many couples ended up with the meat eater trying some of the vegetarian version and not the other way around.

And I'm really not sure about this dessert: "Uni, Lobster, Corn, Licorice". I would go with the vegetarian option there.
posted by demiurge at 8:15 AM on July 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


I find it interesting that the omnivore plates all included meat, even the dessert. Wouldn't being an omnivore give you full license to, at least occasionally—like maybe one of the plates—, eat something without meat?

Lobster in the dessert? Come on!

(I'm sure it was delicious, that's not my point.)
posted by oddman at 8:16 AM on July 27, 2011


Still the idea of having non meat food look like meat seems to have permeated the event.

I would hope so, that's essentially the entire concept.
posted by demiurge at 8:16 AM on July 27, 2011


Usually I'm opposed to vegetarian foods that pretend to be meat. However, that's because they pretend to taste like meat.

Why is this objectionable? Some people who are vegetarians enjoy the taste of meat, but choose not to eat it for ethical and environmental reasons. Why not try to find a similar-tasting substitute?
posted by IjonTichy at 8:22 AM on July 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


I would hope so, that's essentially the entire concept.

It would have been just as (or even more) interesting to have meat dishes that looked vegetarian instead of vegetarian dishes that looked like meat. They only did that reverse switcheroo with one, the vegetarian-looking soup that had meat noodles.
posted by jsturgill at 8:24 AM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had a thought once about couples where one person was a vegetarian and the other was a meat eater. It seemed like they could really never share a meal and have the same experience without one person–usually the omnivore–compromising to suit the mutually agreeable meal.

First of all, even if the meals where literal copies of each other in some fundamental, atomic sense the two eaters wouldn't have "the same experience". You've heard of subjectivity, right? If my wife and I both ate identical fish dinners, she'd be happy and I'd be crabby. That's because one of us doesn't like fish.

And secondly, when you are eating with your SO then "the experience" is not solely, or even primarily, the food. It's the company. If the food were the point, we could sit at different tables or go to separate restaurants or on different nights. I get a lot more enjoyment from her fish if she eats it and tells me what a great meal/time she's having than if I had to eat it myself.

Finally: Even if you accept the premise, this project doesn't address that. You still aren't having the same experience, you are just emitting similar photons. My steak doesn't taste, feel or smell like your fish, it just happens to be cut into a fish shape.
posted by DU at 8:25 AM on July 27, 2011


It's just a personal preference.
posted by demiurge at 8:25 AM on July 27, 2011


They seem to interpret "omnivore" as "likes meat" instead of "you don't need to make a special meal for me, thanks."
posted by emelenjr at 8:26 AM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I should never read things like this. Every time I do, I walk away with a squicked-out reminder that most fancy restaurant food has spent a considerable amount of time being worked into shape in some chef's hot little hands. I'd just prefer to not have my food handled that much, no matter how neat it might be to make a potato look like bone.
posted by phunniemee at 8:27 AM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, phooey. It's a neat concept to have two plates that are visually the same but are made from entirely different ingredients, and it shows a level of creativity and expertise from what looks like some talented chefs.

You guys can be so crabby sometimes. Or maybe okra that looks like crab or something. But sheesh!
posted by Graygorey at 8:38 AM on July 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


This addresses an issue my lady-friend and I encounter regularly - she's a committed vegetarian, I'm a committed omnivore, but when we go out (and we love to go out to dinner) we can rarely achieve parity in our restaurant selections. Places that do meat well often have vegetarian options that appear as after-thoughts, and nice vegetarian or vegan restaurants are just that - they don't have omnivorous options. If we could find a spot that took this one meal's philosophy and applied it to an entire restaurant we'd be there once a month.

Nitpicking about the the phenomenological issues implicit in the suggestion that one 'share an experience' aside, a scene of commensality in which my partner and I both felt we were being catered to would be awesome.
posted by jrb223 at 8:44 AM on July 27, 2011


It's always interesting to see what talented artists produce when they're made to work within strict guidelines. The fact that this experiment produced fantastic food porn as well is a bonus.
posted by minifigs at 8:54 AM on July 27, 2011


Why not try to find a similar-tasting substitute?

In theory this is fine.

In practice faux meat products tend to be heavily processed, industrial, salt laden junk with spray painted on grill marks.

I know there are exceptions, but most of that frozen-vegetarian-stuff in the box is just gross.
posted by device55 at 9:02 AM on July 27, 2011


It's a neat concept to have two plates that are visually the same but are made from entirely different ingredients, and it shows a level of creativity and expertise from what looks like some talented chefs.

It absolutely is. So why ruin it with an "unreasonable vegetarians screw up date night for the normal spouse" framing?
posted by DU at 9:30 AM on July 27, 2011


Color me impressed! All of the dishes are beautiful and I'm in awe of some of the creative ingredients they came up with. (Apricot roe? Whoa.) I would have loved to try every single dish, though I agree with others that the veggie dessert sounds much more appealing (mostly because I hate licorice).
posted by geeky at 9:33 AM on July 27, 2011


It absolutely is. So why ruin it with an "unreasonable vegetarians screw up date night for the normal spouse" framing?

I think it's just an explanation of where the idea originated, even though it migrated pretty far from there.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:34 AM on July 27, 2011


This is great! I like how the slightly-different colors of the side-by-side dishes look like the chromatic variants when both players pick the same character in Street Fighter II.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:41 AM on July 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


I know there are exceptions, but most of that frozen-vegetarian-stuff in the box is just gross.

I appreciate your opinion but I find a lot of it to taste from the "eh, it's alright" to the "wow this is pretty good" range. I've yet to eat anything store bought that was vegetarian or vegan that was 'gross'.

And, when I was vegan, I did enjoy things that tasted like meat. Because I enjoyed meat. I think this is all subjective and a matter of preference. A lot of vegetarians/vegans (I admit fault on this too) tend to subject others to their points of view about what people should and should not like/want/need without realising it.

As for my flavor comment, I tend to find very few things gross, food-wise, so perhaps my opinion on that subject is invalid. Still, I recall fondly the MorningStar Farms basil burgers. Yum!
posted by Malice at 9:50 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


"nice vegetarian or vegan restaurants are just that - they don't have omnivorous options"

Um, all options are omnivorous options. That's the reason the word starts with "omni" and not "carni" or "herbi."
posted by oddman at 9:53 AM on July 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


But to us at Studiofeast, we thought it’d be cool to do a meal where an omnivore and a vegetarian could both share the same meal without the former forgoing meat or the latter having to try flesh.

I'm not seeing the "unreasonable vegetarians" framing in the piece. "One person–usually the omnivore–compromising to suit the mutually agreeable meal" seems more of a nod to the inflexibility of those who eat meat when dining with those who don't.
posted by Graygorey at 9:58 AM on July 27, 2011


Wife's vegan*, I'm not.

I do most of the cooking. A little tricky at first, but everything's running smoothly now.

We grill a lot, and lots of veggies taste great when grilled. Add a bit of animal protein to the grill for me, and tofu/seitan/tempeh for her and that covers most weeknight meals.

A good chana masala is terrific when it's chilly outside. You can make a terrific marinara with just tomatoes, onions, diced carrots and olive oil.

Most good beer is vegan, which is helpful.

It really isn't that hard to keep people happy and satisfied at mealtime, no matter their preferences.

------------------------
*She goes omnivore one day a week.
posted by notyou at 10:33 AM on July 27, 2011


Still, I recall fondly the MorningStar Farms basil burgers.

The morningstar farms "soysage" patties have completely replaced my regular pork breakfast sausage. Yes, they're a meat substitute, but they're a meat substitute that stands well on it's own.
posted by deadmessenger at 12:36 PM on July 27, 2011


I'm uncomfortable with vegetarian foods that pretend to be meat because I'm a vegetarian from a region where people aren't vegetarian-conscious at all. So I tend to assume that any dish that looks meaty actually contains meat, whether the cook says it does or not. I like my meals unambiguous.

That said, I'm really impressed with the creativity of making two very different dishes that look identical.
posted by zeptoweasel at 1:21 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Usually I'm opposed to vegetarian foods that pretend to be meat. However, that's because they pretend to taste like meat."

Why is this objectionable? Some people who are vegetarians enjoy the taste of meat, but choose not to eat it for ethical and environmental reasons. Why not try to find a similar-tasting substitute?


I was raised on veggie burgers, veggie hotdogs and the like. I actually preferred veggie burgers over meat until I discovered the secret -- I like my burgers crazy rare, basically tartare on a bun. There's very little difference, in my mind, between a well-done meat burger and a veggie burgers (Boca burgers are almost scary in their dead-on impression of a overcooked burger). I still often prefer veggie dogs over the meat variety, but I can appreciate the odd meat dog now and again.

I looove Seitan (boy that sentence *sounds* funny). A good serving of seitan, especially if it's been stewed or marinated in soy sauce, is frikkin delicious.

And of course I like tofu, which I had always, always thought of as an ingredient signifying "vegetarian". So imagine my surprise on my first trip to China, when the one dish I picked which I assumed was vegetarian because of the tofu was anything but (it was probably Ma Po tofu, which contains pork!).
posted by Deathalicious at 9:39 AM on July 28, 2011


« Older On July 9, the Japanese public broadcaster NHK air...  |  A new study1 suggests that BPA... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments