The Other Side, the Raw Food Trend, Fakin’ Bacon
Another meat-free S/O/L/E Food Tuesday
To eat a raw food diet takes some effort. It might seem counter-intuitive, because there’s no cooking involved. But think about vegan recipes or any recipes you know of, vegetarian, vegan, or “regular”; don’t they generally include heating food to some extent?
Raw food is a trend that has been popularized by celebrities like Donna Karan, Woody Harrelson, Demi Moore. Adherents swear the diet gives them better energy, more vitality, clearer thinking. Those are just some of the claims.
There’s a saying in Japanese: The reverse side also has a reverse side.
I thought of that, as I stepped through the smoking, drinking, inked-up kids outside the Other Side. What was I in for? Had I come before they were open? Seemed to be a mix of patrons, regulars and staffers out there. I wondered: can vegans drink beer? Isn’t yeast a living thing (no, fungus)? I guess cigarettes are not eaten so burning them is not the same as cooking? Who knows what the logic is.
Ah, but this is our first epiphany. The Other Side Cafe is not just about serving vegans or even vegetarians. So anyone is likely to find a happy meal here. Not the evil happy meal, I mean a good meal. Something like 17 sandwiches available, at least seven for omnivores.
But, I had been invited to come sample the menu by the owner of The Other Side and was delighted to enjoy a cool walk across town. In between Back Bay and the Fens, The Other Side is situated across Mass. Ave. from Newbury Street.
Crowd: Serving a mix of locals, students with an occasional guest my age thrown in.
Vibe: The music skews young and loud (Billy Corrigan with your vegan lunch, perhaps?) but the table tent warns you that this is how they and most of their patrons like it.
Fakin’ it or not
Menu: An observation from a meat-centered perspective: vegetarians often try to “fool” you with a meat substitute and recreate a meat-centered meal, minus the meat. Sham ham, fakin’ bacon, phoney baloney. My view is that this is an error if you’re trying to win over carnivores and omnivores. But that may not be the goal of all vegans or vegetarians to do so, but why not just serve something yummy without calling my attention to the fact that it’s not something, just let it be something.
Happily, the Other Side the menu is geared towards all eaters. (Even gluten-free). You’re out of luck if you’re a vegetarian or vegan with nut allergies, but that’s a story for another day. These are extensive menus for a place that barely has a kitchen! At least eleven menu items at first scan are flagged as vegan or raw. They helpfully explain the reasons behind some vegans eschewing some beers and wines which are clarified with gelatin based products, for example. Even offering a website for more info, see Barnivore.com.
Since vegans focus on cruelty-free foods
A vegan is someone who doesn’t eat animal products: meat, fish, milk products, eggs, or honey. Many vegans also avoid fur, leather, and wool as these products generally result in the confinement, abuse, or slaughter of animals.
I asked for the most popular items on the vegan and raw menu, since this was going to be a learning lunch. The “BLT” which of course is devoid of one of my favorite foods the “B” comes with “Fakin’ Bacon.” This gets me to my point about converts. No one will ever be fooled by Fakin’ Bacon. It doesn’t mean the sandwich was bad, it was actually quite good.
I began with the raw foodists Chips and Dip. “the chips are slices of beet and carrot; the dip is a blend of macadamia and cashew with garlic, lemon, braggs.” (The Braggs is a soy based sauce that lends umami without the salt of soy. But I believe it’s brewed so it wouldn’t be purely kosher.) The chips were beautiful and tasty. The dip was great, but when I hear chips and dip I’m thinking deep fried potato chips and sour cream based dip.
The reverse side also has a reverse side.
The statement is an acknowledgment of the holistic view of life. There is no light without dark, good without evil. Chips without dip. Okay, I made the last one up. Of course you could have chips without dip, but why?
Here’s the Other Side dip (which is really a spread):
3/4 c. raw Macadamia nuts
1 1/4 c. raw Cashews
1/2 c. filtered water
1 Tbsp. Braggs Liquid Aminos
Juice of 1 lemon
1 small garlic clove
1/2 Tbsp. Herbes de Provençe
10 Basil leaves, minced
1 scallion, minced
Blend all ingredients except basil and green onion until smooth. Mix in basil and green onion by hand. For best flavor, let it sit for at least an hour. Serve with carrot and beet “chips” or veggie sticks.
When my sandwich arrived with potato chips on the side, I laughed at my own reaction. How bland and wan they looked next to the gorgeous crimson and orange of the beets. And, after eating the vegetables, the potato chips just tasted of salt.
Nachos, breakfast scrambles, grilled and pressed sandwiches, savory pies. Desserts are always good on vegetarian and vegan menus. The Other Side is no exception: the chocolate mint cake was very good even without butter in the butter cream.
The 7 @ 7 menu offers a nightly entree for only $7.00 one meat, one vegetarian.
Enjoy a meal from the Other Side and bring your friends: carnivores, omnivores, vegans, raw foodists, everyone can find something to enjoy on the menu. Even Wimpy could find a nice roast beef sandwich here.
Now, about that music…