Banana blossoms marinated in seaweed and samphire and then deep fried. Sounds exotic and is reportedly delicious as well. But if cuisines had feelings, the newest vegan offering at East London’s Sutton and Sutton would very likely be found hissing in anger in a frying pan. Even after meeting the standards of gastronomes, the dish will never be the real thing.
The eatery where it was created flaunts the fare as vegan fish and chips. The banana blossoms would surely be incensed to find out that the marine dressing was only meant to make them taste like fish in batter. If culinary ingredients were sentient beings, there is a good chance the discontent in Sutton’s kitchens would have assumed the form of a world rebellion.
Starchy stuff in different parts of the world — from potatoes to yam — would have taken up arms for being called upon to satisfy vegetarian longing for sausages and kababs. And there is little doubt that their war cries would have touched a chord in India’s long suffering plant foods: The jackfruit which has suffered the ignominy of being called the “poor man’s mutton,” raw banana which is asked to assume the form of a kofta ball and soya whose very existence seems to depend upon how well vendors turn it into a mess called the soya chaap.
Those who prefer vegetarian food to meat offer arguments ranging from taste to upbringing and ethics. Nothing wrong with that. It’s also perfectly understandable that such abstentions will only increase the cravings for grilled and smoky flavours or chewy and creamy textures. But it is basic culinary etiquette that a gastronome respects the ingredients of her meal. Vegetarians would be well-advised to not foist their identity crisis on the food items they enjoy.