The United States – A vegetarian’s nightmare??? Not quite

When I arrived here at Concord , California , just a little over two weeks ago, I landed here quite perturbed at the stories that I had heard regarding the miserable fate that vegetarians have here. Not that I am a strict vegetarian myself, considering that I do enjoy the occassional poultry dish now and then, but I prefer veggie food. So naturally I approached the entire food scene here at the US quite warily.

However, what awaited here quite surprised me. Even the most optimistic of all the vegetarians would be surprised at the amount of veggie food here. Albeit different from Indian food, in more ways than one, the sheer variety of veggie food here is quite mind-boggling. Although it has to be said that most of this food is available only in supermarkets and is almost always in the Frozen Food section, it cannot be ruled out that even the most staunchest of veggies will not find himself going hungry at all.

In spite of finding veggie food here, my food woes were proven right when I quickly figured it out that the US is one of the places on earth, where the concept of spicy food is nothing like it is back home, or for that matter, in any Tropical country of the world. While the Mexican dishes here taste like they are distant cousins of Indian food, the veggie food here is just…..dead, for the lack of a better word. There is just no way that anything that is made with Cheese, or Butter can be made spicy. Even with a generous dose of some spice powders such as an AllSpice Powder and a so-called Chilly Powder, the maximum spice I can get out of any frozen dinners here is quite pathetic to say the least. I never realized that I would ever say this in life, but I miss spicy Andhra food.

Although I always believed that I had a low tolerance for spicy food, and more so in the last 6 months, when I moved to Hyderabad and whatever food I had was reasonably spicy compared to food back home at Bangalore . I guess my tongue has been well-conditioned to Andhra-style spicy food and is now officially dead with two weeks of Frozen Dinners here at Concord .

And what’s with the Onions here man? When I bought them, I was reasonably optimistic about their abilities in spite of the fact that they were quite pale when compared to Indian onions. And they are as pungent when I cut them, just like their Indian cousins. However, the moment I started to saute them over the oil I realized that they are just pretenders. They are nothing like the ones back home. In fact, these guys over here spoil all the recipes that I generally use them back home for. Back home, any dish is almost never complete without an onion, however, back here, I would rather kill myself rather than add an onion to my dish. God sure knows how to make people eat their words and opinions. This cannot be happening to me.

In spite of all the above paragraphs, I must confess I am reasonably enjoying the culinary experiences the US has to offer without comprimising on my vegetarianism around 99% of the time. And no, I have not succumbed to the junk food mode where I am gobbling down Pizzas, Ice Creams and Chocolates. I am having proper food like Vegetarian Lasagna, Baked Beans, etc, which most people here have as their dinner.



2 thoughts on “The United States – A vegetarian’s nightmare??? Not quite

  1. Ah.. something I’ve noticed. Vegetarian means an assorted of raw vegetables with some spiceless cheesy stuff. I can’t think how Indians could live with that. I’m not a big fan of Non Veg food, but I’m Non Veg for the most part in the US whenever I go outside. But in all my stints in the US, I’ve practically lived on the MTR/Priya packed rices (Sambhar rice, rasam, pulao etc) and the numerous parathas and packed ‘heat and eat’ side dishes that you get in Indian stores. CA is half India dude… so go find the nearest Indian store!

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