Monday, 28 April 2008

Welcome, and who the Hell am I?

Greetings Sacramentans and interested others! A couple years ago, the News and Review was looking for a new food reviewer, and I gave it some serious consideration. Unfortunately, I had no previous published work. I still might have applied were it not for one other hang-up: I'm a vegetarian. I realized that a major publication, even an alternative weekly, probably wants its food reviews to cater to a bit less of a niche crowd. But that's why we have the internets! I can be as niche as I want (see the group yogurt blog I contribute to, Live Active Cultures).

Years ago, the only vegetarian restaurants in town were Mum's (delicious but expensive), The Good Earth (fantastic in every way), Eat Your Vegetables (the Fresh Choice of local, vegetarian places -- I still miss the river bottom chili), and Sunflower Cafe (great, but I never go to Fair Oaks). Of those, only Sunflower is still in existence. Andy Nguyen's is now vegetarian, but I rarely go there. Why? Well, because fifteen years ago, I found myself ordering salads or sides at most restaurants or asking for substitutions. But now it's 2008 in California, and it is a rare restaurant that doesn't have more than one vegetarian option on the menu. My goal is to review mainstream restaurants on their vegetarian options. I promise you it's not all pasta anymore!

What are my qualifications? Almost none. I've been a vegetarian since 1990, I love eating out, I love food, and I love cooking. I also love writing. And that's that.

Who am I? Well, my name is Kara, and I'm a lifelong Sacramentan. I grew up in Tahoe Park, and I've lived downtown, in midtown, in Land Park, Colonial Park, and East Sac, where I live now with my husband and newborn daughter. Years ago, I was "Your Mama": I had a web site devoted to local music, and I am still an enormous fan, although I don't get out as much (I'm old and tired, and there's that newborn daughter thing). These days, I'm Count Mockula. I also write about cooking at Count Broccula, although I've let that one lapse a bit. There are only so many blog posts you can do about stir-fry.

Why am I a vegetarian? Well, in 1990 at Sac High, where I was a freshman, all the super-cool mod and punk girls I admired had "Meat is Murder" pins on their backpacks. My friend Fiona was the coolest ever, and she was a vegetarian, so naturally I wanted to be one, too. Don't you wish this story was about my compassion for animals or my devotion to preserving the environment? Well, I became more devoted to those ideals as I learned more about them, but I can't lie -- at first it was about fitting in. Anyway, I asked my mom if I could be a vegetarian and she said no. I researched it at length and wrote a persuasive essay (note: I am a nerd). She read it and said I could, but only after we had dinner that night, as we were having chicken. Now it's a habit that I don't even have to think about. A benefit is that I felt healthier almost right away, and my cholesterol, which was borderline when I was in my early teens and first went veggie, is now very good. My whole family has high cholesterol, so I suspect the veggie thing is the tipping point for me.

What kind of veggie am I? Well, I'm a lacto-ovo vegetarian. I was vegan for about three weeks in 1997, but did you know if you're vegan you can't have cheese or ice cream? Yeah, that sucks. Pizza with no cheese? No Ben and Jerry's? That blew. I still don't drink milk and I try to limit the cheese and ice cream, because milk makes my asthma worse (the reason I went vegan to begin with). But I thoroughly enjoy the occasional chile relleno, so if you're hoping for vegan suggestions, you're in the wrong place.

How strict am I? Pretty strict, although I make two occasional exceptions -- Rice Krispie treats about once a year (marshmallows have gelatin in them) and miso soup with bonito flakes in it while I was pregnant.

Other notes? I am not a proselytizing vegetarian, so this blog isn't to make anyone feel bad for killing the pretty cows/destroying the environment/whatever. I also am not grossed out by people eating meat with me, so I may sometimes include notes in my review about what my meat-eating companions liked or didn't like at the restaurant.

Okay, I suppose that's it! Nope, one more thing. I am an English teacher, so I try hard to use proper grammar/spelling/whatnot, but my daughter is a boob-a-holic, so I am usually typing one-handed over a baby. I hereby apologize for any errors you might find, as I will probably not be proofreading. And that's the last I have to say on that subject. Welcome aboard!!

--Count Mockula

1 comment:

Beth said...

We are very excited about this blog because even though we do eat meat sometimes (our attempt at vegetarianism failed when "pork is a vegetable on your birthday" turned into "pork is a vegetable on EVERYBODY's birthday") we tend to go for vegetarian options at restaurants.