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a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation

01.09.2003

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i  don't  
eat that
what to cook when you're hosting a vegetarian or carnivore

by Patricia Virella
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Itís not about the unpacked boxes, the new furniture, the fresh paint: no, for me at least, a new abode doesnít quite feel like home until Iíve shared a long evening of good food, wine, and conversation with some of my favorite people in the world. Which is why when I moved into my first apartment, I wanted to have as many of my friends over for dinner as I possibly could, and soon.  I would get to show off my grand ability to throw wonderful dinner feasts, and give the new digs a proper housewarming.

I was in for more of a challenge than I realized, though, when I asked my friend Sandflower over for a meal.  From our complicated Ė and very different Ė eating habits Iíve learned how to cook for those who donít necessarily eat what I do.  Hereís how to cook for everyone Ö and not kill yourself in the process.

vegetarian in the house!
The day my vegan girlfriend agreed to come over for a lunch gathering with some other friends of ours, I figured Iíd take the easy entertaining route, and prepare my regular sandwich/salad buffet.  Iíd cover all bases by offering a cornucopia of foods like tuna salad, chicken salad, cold cuts, fruit, and cheeses, and let everyone feast in whatever way suited their fancy. Problem was, Sandflower didnít eat anything except the fruit.  I was dumbfounded, and felt horrible that my cluelessness had left my good friend out in the pasture. 

leave the meat alone!
Having a vegetarian or vegan in the house can present numerous problems for the common carnivore, but it doesnít have to.  You CAN learn to cook delicious dishes that are chock full of vegetables and feature a completely meatless sauce.  Try this easy method for making vegetarian/vegan-friendly foods: just take a dish that you normally cook, then subtract the meat or dairy, or substitute with a ďmeatyĒ veggie, like portabella mushrooms or beans. Make your favorite pasta sauce without the ground beef and/or sausage; try a spicy stir-fry with loads of yummy Asian vegetables, or an Indian veggie masala.  Just because you may normally put meat in a dish doesnít necessarily mean it calls for it. This tactic, naturally, works best when the meat and dairy portions arenít the main ingredients of the dish Ė a fettucine alfredo without the butter and cream, for instance, leaves you with little more than pasta with salt.

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