Food Porn: Looking for outlaw love.
Janet reclined on her sofa on a Saturday evening. Her partner of 15 years, Beth, was in the kitchen making dinner – fried tofu with kimchi and organic green beans cultivated on a local farm called Ye Olde Bean Eden.
Beth shopped the Grant Park Farmers Market every Sunday in search of the perfect Brussels sprout or strawberry uncontaminated by deer feces swimming with E. coli.
Beth’s rather recent vegetarian diet drove Janet crazy and that was just one more reason she liked to eat out frequently with Robert. She could eat bloody red meat and not hear about the horrors of factory farming.
If Janet dared to say, while feasting on quinoa with radishes, that she missed eating meat at home, Beth got teary-eyed, eventually blubbering as she noisily crunched organic celery stalks. Janet always apologized and put her arm around Beth, assuring her that the flora and fauna of the world were grateful for her compassion. The doorbell rang. It was Robert. “Hello!” Beth shouted from the kitchen. “You’re going to love the tofu tonight!”
Robert hugged Janet, laughing, and went into the kitchen to hug Beth. “It smells delicious,” he said.
Beth flipped the cubes of tough tofu around in the hot canola oil. She would remove the cubes after they were crispy on the outside, then drain most of the oil, and throw the kimchi and beans into the pan. She would serve the tofu over the vegetables.
But that was not to happen tonight. Just as Robert opened the bottle of wine he’d brought, the lights blinked and the power shut off, including Beth’s electric stove.
“Oh well,” she said, “it’s a $3.99 loss. Shall we go out somewhere to eat?”
Twenty minutes later, the three were at Green Sprout across from Ansley Mall. The underappreciated restaurant serves vegetarian food in the “Chinese-Buddhist” style. It’s one of those places, like many of the city’s South Indian res- taurants (such as Saravana Bhavan), where carnivores easily live with the meat-is-murder ethic.
“I really love this place,” Robert said, insisting that they share an order of his favorite – super-crispy, super-hot bean curd skin wrapped around a fat cluster of cool, raw bean sprouts, along with slivers of carrots and a few other veggies. “You can hardly get one in your mouth, but you won’t believe how good they are.”
Beth was happy, even though the vegetables were not sourced. “Even if they are organic, I hope the bean sprouts aren’t from Walmart,” she said, alluding to the evil store’s low-priced organic produce.
Janet struggled not to roll her eyes and changed the subject. “Have you seen Lee, since we saw him with the cockatoo and Tarot cards at Waffle House?”
Robert sighed. “No, but I’m always expecting him to show up. It’s like he’s stalking me for real.” He looked around the tiny dining room. “I guess he doesn’t like vegetarian food.”
“Are you really into this guy?” Beth asked, sipping tea. “Janet tells me he’s hot but super-weird.”
Robert looked down at his plate, not wanting to answer. “Yeah,” he finally said, “I find him very intriguing. He’s kind of androgynous or at least has no hesitation to wear makeup. He’s evasive about his life and shows up at Waffle House with a dwarf and a dude carrying a cockatoo un-