Masters of Disguise
I am an inveterate Johnstown cuisine lover. My love affair, my wife Karen would say, has put 80 pounds on me in the last 21 years, but she is being ungenerous since I mostly eat her wonderful cooking. And what fine cooking it is! I remember the first meal Karen cooked for me in 1977. It was broiled chicken seasoned with salad dressing and boiled broccoli seasoned with lemon pepper. Until then, I had never eaten broiled chicken—my chicken was always fried—unless Big Momma served her famous chicken and dumplings. Broccoli, southern style, was cooked longer than it took General Grant to capture Vicksburg, MS, and I had heard of pepper (and used it liberally after I coated everything with salt) and lemons (which I put in my sweetened ice tea)—but never both together. Actually, my first meal was pretty good and the next 33,000 or so she has cooked me—my expanding waistline is a testament to my thorough conversion to Nouveau Yankee cuisine. Yummy good!
Well anyway the New York Time’s article argues that finally—finally—there is a vegetarian burger that rivals the most delicious Whopper or Quarter Pounder. Apparently, while the rest of us languished in the throes of the new Angus Quarter Pounder, inventive New York chefs have been working tirelessly to create the penultimate veggie burger. Food reviewer Jeff Gordinier is veritably overcome with joy when he writes “Veggie burgers . . . have explored into countless variations of good, and in doing so they’ve begun to look like a bellwether for the American appetite.”
Bellwether for the American appetite. Excuse me, but I doubt it.
Can you imagine cruising through the MacDonald’s drive through and asking for a veggie burger with fries and milk shake? Hum . . .
But excuse me. I respect vegetarians. More power to you. But, why do you want to copy my food? Do I try to copy yours? Respectfully, I doubt, even in NYC, that one can find broccoli and asparagus that will match the effervescence of a Quarter Pounder with Cheese.
Nonetheless, “There is something very satisfying about holding one’s dinner in one’s hand.” Indeed. But it can’t be done. Not really. A meatless burger is an oxymoron and it can never b e a dinner.
And here is another oxymoron—and this is where I am taking this—our society is desperate to emulate the Christian life. The Christian life, like the hamburger, is genuine, real, juicy, and full of protein. Lived in the right way, it can bring great life to a person and to his world. And it cannot be replaced by good feelings, good intentions, or other existential offerings. As Tolstoi writes in War and Peace, “Let us be persuaded that the less we let our feeble human minds roam, the better we shall please God, who rejects all knowledge that does not come from Him; and the less we seek to fathom what He has been pleased to conceal from us, the sooner will he vouchsafe its revelation to us through His divine Spirit.”