Sunday, October 11, 2009

A response from Kerry Greenwwood.

Sadly, I think this is what I expected in response to my post about Kerry Greenwood's latest book Forbidden Fruit which was an open letter and an invitation to potluck.

I am quite capable of distinguishing author from book; but I don't like confusing inaccuracy.

I didn't take issue with the Christian extremists because it's not my bag. I am taking issue with the inaccurate and unimaginatively stereotypical portrayal of my own community. Also I reckon I could find far more extremists Christians who fit the bill than vegans who eat Brie muffins and tzatziki.

I don't intend to debate, but I will just note that while extremist websites may well tell young girls that eating meat will give women breast cancer, the link between eating red meat and increased risk of bowel cancer is not an extremist viewpoint at all but well accepted by medical professionals. So it's hardly a ridiculous example to use to illustrate the terribleness of extremist vegans; it's mean and rude but really not so far from the truth as to be completely laughable.

I don't really want to stop reading the books because I enjoy them, but its a bit of a trite answer to tell me to look away if I don't like what I see. Seeing as Kerry says she is denouncing things she thinks needs denouncing, I am really just doing the same about things that I don't like too.

So here, in all it's sighing glory, is Kerry's response:

Dear Rachel
(sigh) here we go again. I do not have it in for Vegans or vegetarians. My best friend really is a veggie. I ate one of the best meals of my life in a veggie restaurant in Bristol. I never met a vegetable I didn't like (except okra. One must draw the line somewhere). You are confusing the author's opinions with the book itself.
However, the animal liberation/extreme vegans do have a lunatic fringe - as do the Christians, to the depiction of which I notice you haven't made any objection. The websites of those extreme people do, in fact, tell young girls that if they eat meat they will get breast cancer. No scientific proof, no qualifications. I read them myself, with increasing horror. Just like I read the Chiristian fundamentalist sites, which told me that unless I sent them a lot of money now I would be going to hell.
I dont like fundamentalists of any sort. I denounce them when they need denouncing. And if you do not like my work, you can always stop reading it.
Thank you for your invitation to dinner. Most civil.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Vegan Votering, or: Enlightened Cuisine as voted by the judges

Throwing themselves into the swing of things, recently newish Melbournians Steph and Danni organised a dinner at Enlightened Cuisine to celebrate the New Moon Festival. Sadly Danni was sent leaving on a jet plane, thereby missing the mock meat madness.

Having slavered over the 'lamb' curry last World Vegan Day, I was keen to sample more (and from now on I'll just drop the ' 's. You know I don't mean the real and nasty stuff, although I do actually feel a little uncomfortable writing meaty names which is interesting). The table of 9 decided to order from two of the banquets, very reasonably priced at $32 per person for 8 dishes.

So how to review 16 plates shared amongst 8 people, with Jo chipping in too?

By exercising our God-given right to vote and my geek-given ability to count on my fingers.

So here, voted by your judges (me, Buzz, Craig, Bec, Jo, Cindy, Michael, Sarah-Jane and Steph), are the winners of Banquets B1 and B2. Due to some confusion as to when the dishes arrived on the table, and which was announced as belonging to which, not each face-off consists of a B1 vs B2. Rearranging them would have sullied the total votes, but at the end I have tallied total votes for each Banquet to declare a Banquet Emperor. I also recommend you check out Steph's post and especially her fantastic pictures, which have me seriously considering the purchase of a fancy up-towards-the-ceiling flash attachment and even dragging my SLR around instead of just whipping out my little, damaged-because-I-dropped-it-lens-first-into-miso-soup-at-Peko-Peko point'n'shoot.

So to the count. Australia Votes!

In the fried entree section, no photographs were taken, but the spring roll (B1) trounced the curry puff (B2) 7 votes to 2.

In the souping, Shark Fin Soup (B1) played nicely with Sweet Corn and Crab (B2), 4 and 4 votes respectively.

Moving to mains, the Kung Po Prawn (B1), which squiggled in a way I imagine real prawn guts might, lost mightily to the fried Sweet and Sour Pork (B1), which was served with the very authentic tomato and pineapple chunks, 2 votes to 7.

In the Battle of the Tofus, the warm, rich and spicy Ma Pu Tofu (B1) lost to the overwhelming 5 Spice Tofu (B2), small artery-cloggers of pure cripsy fatty dollops, 2 votes to 7.

Next into the arena, the Sweet and Sour Prawns (B2), little fried prawnies in batter, were crushed by the immensity of the Kung Po Chicken in Nest (B2), which was cashews and chicken in a little basket of French Fries, 2 votes to 7. Yes they were fries. And yes, I forgot to take a picture of the prawnies because the 45 minute wait between entree and main had frayed my nerves a little and I was ready to jump on the table, perform the Stompy Troll Dance, gather all the plates in my Troll Apron, and run away into the night.

Each Banquet came with a serve of Stir-Fried Mixed Vegetables and Fried Rice, which we didn't vote on even though I was really liking the power of wielding the pen.

Finally, the Lychee Longan (B1) took on the Banana Fritter (B2). Michael declared his interests as a fully paid up member of the I Hate Nanis Club, of which Emily and he are Founding Co-Chairs and Chief Cheerleaders, and absented himself from voting because of his perverse aversion, and votes came out even at 4 each.

I am fully aware of the image that the picture above presents. Not only do I love crass, cheap humour, but it was the only picture that worked out and I love crass, cheap humour.

Geeking it up, we then voted for Best Entree (Shark Fin Soup tying with Spring Rolls at 4 votes each, with Jo not voting); Best Main in a two stage process (5 Spice Tofu finally scoring a massive 8 votes against Jo's Beef and Black Bean Sauce, a late entry); and again, a dead heat for dessert.

So to tally the Banquets (trumpets, drum roll, the envelope please): Banquet B1 scored a total of 27 points, and Banquet B2 scored 26.

But, as Red Pen Bitch, I have the veto! Banquet B2 also contained the two most popular dishes of the night, the 5 Spice Tofu (Overall Champion) and the Nest, and I therefore declare by the power vested in me by the State of Victoria and the Power of Greyskull, that Banquet B2 is the OVERLORD and WINNER.

Finally, calming me down from my voting bossiness, thoughtful Steph had brought us all Moon Cakes and told us the story behind the festival. Moon Cakes are ornate and decorative, and inside the sweet wrapping they are filled with sugary squidgy red bean. They were sweet in more ways than one.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Shoe Elves, or: labels are very important when a girl is communing with her God by shoe shopping

Dear Shoe Elves,

I love it when you make pretty twinkly dancy shoesies that say 'Synthetic Upper, Lining and Sole' on them. Especially when they are hot pink satin and have a gold metallic strap. They make my want to do twirlies and skippies and long-forgotten ballet steps and sing.

But can you please stop using leather for the quarter lining because it's breaking my heart and it's lying.

Thank you,
A Shoe Lover

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Kerry Greenwood's latest book 'Forbidden Fruit' - thoughts and an invitation, or: an open letter

Dear Kerry,

I write as a long time fan of both the Phryne Fisher and Corinna Chapman books. One thing that I have always admired about both series, particularly Earthly Delights, is the sensible and inclusive way that you handle people and groups who are often misunderstood by society - Wiccans, S&M, recovering addicts, goths and the homeless for example.

I was surprised to read the portrayal of vegans and animals rights groups in Forbidden Fruit. While I understand that artistic licence can be invoked for literary means, I found the portrayal of the motivations, philosophies and people confusing and disappointing.

I am vegan and focus very heavily on making sure that my decisions and ethical positions are reasonable, rational and accessible to others. Even the most 'extreme' liberationists I know, of which there are very few compared to the mainstream midground, fall well short of the characters in the book. I am concerned that these characters, untempered by some exposition on what most vegans are really like, perpetuate the myth that we are all foaming-at-the-mouth fanatics about to launch ourselves over the dinner table to wrestle the steak from your fork. We really do cop a lot of criticism from the uninformed and the belligerent, and we work very hard to engage and explain to the interested.

I was surprised that there was no point at which any reasons for veganism were put forward even in explanation, even though these reasons range from animal liberation to welfare to environmentalism to health. There are as many reasons to be vegan as there are vegans, but I didn't read anything that might imply that these reasons might be valid and rational. Vegans do not eat, wear or consume animal products not because we are slightly unhinged and extremists, but because we care deeply about animals, the environment and our health, and because we have thought deeply and carefully about our decision. I would have loved to have seen some acknowledgement of this in the book, even in a small way to counteract the perception that we are all Sarahs and hopeful cannibals, or Janeens who secretly crave and sneak dairy.

And we love food! I am yet to meet a vegan who is not obsessed with food and, particularly, baking. We have regular potlucks and most of us blog about food too. I would love to suggest a few blogs that you might consider reading, if you might be interested in reading a little of what we do (and cook)? I attach a list below, as well as some sites which try to explain why we feel that eggs and dairy are just as objectionable as meat, which seemed to be a sticking point in the book.

I would also like to extend an open, and very warm, invitation to you to attend one of our potlucks. I promise that the food will be delicious, and the company unextreme! We love to share our food and cooking with one another and recent triumphs include tiramisu, sausage rolls, tequila cupcakes, savoury watermelon salad and (my own) peanut butter ice cream. We would love for you to come along; we have a great community and appreciate the opportunity to share it. You would be most welcome at any time.

With thanks for two wonderful series of books, and in hope that you will have a read of our blogs and perhaps admire the baking,

Warm regards,


PS: I am writing this as an open letter and publishing it on my blog in the interests of my own transparency. Please feel free to respond publicly too.

Blog roll: (my own blog) (Kristy) (Mandee) (Lisa) (Pip) (Steph) (USA - Lolo) (Cindy and Michael) (USA: website of vegan chefs with massive baking component)

Other sites: