Have you ever thought about what you might eat if a vegetarian invited you to dinner? As a raw/vegan chef I always try to surprise dinner guests with something new and delicious that they might have never had before. So it only makes sense that being invited to the home of a vegetarian could mean trying something new too.
If you yourself are not a vegetarian, expect to find a few new and interesting foods on the table. Bring your adventurous mind and be open to trying foods such as meat alternatives. Enjoy yourself in a new environment of tastes and smells. Following are a few tips to get you ready for what you may encounter on a vegetarian table.
Savor the Seasonings
Traditional vegetarian cultures have had some significant influence on American vegetarians. For instance, Indian spices are very popular in combination with vegetarian entrees and sides. Curry is one spice in particular that is available in various forms. Green curry is one of the spicier types. It comes in powders and pastes. Yellow curry is more often found in powder form and it is more sweet than spicy.
All curries are rich and a little bit sharp in flavor. They are often combined with coconut products and are delicious with seafood. Vegetarians frequently use strong seasoning in order to bring out flavors more effectively in foods that don’t necessarily add their own flavor to a dish.
In addition to Indian spices, there is also a high likelihood of finding characteristic flavorings from other cultures. Saffron is a very flavorful spice from Mexico. Asian cooking ingredients such as peppers, soy sauces and sesame oil are also quite common in vegetarian kitchens. In summary, expect strongly and richly flavored dishes rather than simple salt and pepper.
The Main Dish
So, what is it that you will be eating that will be seasoned so beautifully? There are a few options. Some vegetarians eat different forms of seafood which is often considered a safe bet to serve a non vegetarian. Shrimp are very easy to prepare in a variety of ways.
If your vegetarian friend is interested in stretching your boundaries a little bit though, expect some other meat alternatives. Tofu and tempeh are soy products. They both receive flavor very efficiently and are easy to make fit any dinner mold. In addition to the protein portion of your meal, expect a colorful variety of vegetables. A spoonful of peas or corn would be insufficient for a nutritious vegetarian meal. Finally, the carbohydrates will finish off your plate. Potatoes are a possibility, but it is more likely that you will find pasta, rice or risotto. If you are not accustomed to eating vegetarian meals, you will be surprised at how filling and satisfying a vegetarian meal can be.
Of course, this is not a complete covering of all the potential foods you may be offered at a vegetarian meal. The important thing to do is to be willing to sit down at the table with an open mind. Get ready to enjoy something new, fun and delicious. Vegetarian foods are definitely unique as compared to typical American fare, but they make for an incredible dining experience.