Thursday, July 8, 2010

"Istanbul (Not Constantinople)"

Yesterday I had a client lunch with a friend who was also a college athlete and then later let the best of this active NYC lifestyle get to him and gained a significant amount of weight. He is now doing Triathlons and has lost about 25 lbs. I always get motivated discussing health and fitness with like-minded friends. We met for sushi at the great Natsumi, and I had a seaweed salad, and some sashimi. It is also worth noting that when I first started this quest he ridiculed me, good-naturedly, a few times. Then I started to think -- you know, every person who ridiculed me in the beginning (albeit in jest) are impressed with my resolve, and now treat my veganism (or modified veganism, or more accurately, nutritarianism) as something quite normal. In the beginning, this client made a joke about only meeting me at steak joints for our businesses luncheons, but yesterday, he suggested a few places with a good vegetarian menu. My good friend at the Shore used to rake me over the coals, but now, he accepts this new diet as easily as he buys one set of food for him, and one set for his kids. It has become normal.

And that is something I really cherish. No longer is my restrictive (too harsh of a word), no longer is my enlightened diet a circus side-show, for it has entered the mainstream of my life as others see me.

Last night I met the Nurse for iced coffee, or iced mocha? Cappuccino? Oh, I don't know, I really am the most coffee-illiterate person around. I don't drink much coffee, and I swear there is zero difference between the cup of joe at work, and what you get at Starbucks. Yes, I know you coffee lovers, you pity me; just like I pity the person who can't tell the difference between a 16 year old Lagavulin scotch whiskey, and an 18 year old Maccallan scotch whiskey (if you're buying me a Christmas gift, chose the former). So, at the coffee shop, and in the spirit of camaraderie, I simply said, "I'll have what she's having." Since I mostly drink water, this iced coffee/mocha/latte, whatever, did nothing for me except make me feel like I should not be drinking it. It was like a watery milkshake. I didn't finish.

The coffee shop we went to is a tiny place on York Ave. between 75th and 76th. It also had lots of vegan cookies and cakes. Some aged, tie-dye, gray-haired woman who fought the imaginary "power" 40 years ago came in and was asking all sorts of questions about each of the vegan sweets. 9 months ago I would have rolled my eyes at this septuagenarian hippie, but last night I listened in with interest, and dare I say, embarrassingly, kinship!

I went to dinner at A La Turk (formerly Sultan), a very good Turkish restaurant. I was interested in only their humus and lentil soup to compare to my favorite takeout place, Taksim. Well, it was a close call. Both lentil soups are superb and the fact that no cream is used is astounding! There was enough of a difference that all I could say is that they are both excellent, and I would have to do a true side-by-side to pick the best. No point in doing this other than humour myself. The humus was creamier at A La Turk, but both are good and I would not prefer one over the other. The hostess was one of those bubbly, beautifully exotic women that punctuate NYC and add such flavor to this wonderful city that when I visit either my brother in Dallas, or the other one in Orange County, I feel like I am in some sort of homogeneous Twilight Zone. The hostess was half Turkish, and half Greek, so her nickname immediately become, "War."

The owner came over and explained how this humus came from a special recipe from his village. If he said that about the lentil soup I would have been all in since it was such a unique and wonderful taste. The humus was excellent, don't get me wrong, but I think Taksim's was just as good and tasted similarly. But how hard is it to even make humus?

Here is Dr. Fuhrman's recipe:

1 cup chickpeas (canned or cooked)
1 tablespoon tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 cup bean liquid, from the canned beans or water
1 teaspoon horseradish (optional)

Blend all ingredients in a blender until creamy smooth.  Makes an awesome spread or a dip for raw and lightly steamed veggies. Or spread on bread and top with salsa

So, regarding my heading, "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)",  I was referring to the popular song by They Might Be Giants from 1990. However, I had no idea how old that song was, and who covered it! Just a partial list: Bing Crosby with Ella Fitzgerald (1953), Frankie Vaughan (1954), Santo & Johnny (1962), Bette Midler for the live album "Live At Last" (1977), They Might Be Giants (1990), Trevor Horn Orchestra, for the soundtrack to "Mona Lisa Smile" (2003), etc.

1 comment:

Vegan Epicurean said...

That is wonderful that guys that formerly ribbed you are now on board. Sounds like quite the victory to me. ;-)

You can't tell the different between different coffees. *shakes head* Clearly I am with the nurse on this one. LOL

If you warm the chickpeas before you blend them the hummus will be creamier. I found this out by accident rushing one day after I cooked the beans. Now I only make hummus with hot chickpeas. ;-)