Dec 21, 2020

Christmas, Kwanza and Hanukkah for Non-Carnivores

Here are 15 guilt-, fat- and taste-free treats for your holiday meal

By Ed Goldman

Having read incessantly about faux-meat products like yam chops and incogmeato (I love that name), I decided to combine my branding and R&D teams here at The Goldman State HQ and come up with 15 new food items and appropriate names for non-carnivorous holiday feasters. 

I realize the following “foods” (I’m being generous) won’t address everyone’s preferences. I’m sure the menu will disappoint carnivores, omnivores and pescatarians alike, even the ones who make odd exceptions for themselves (“My rule is that I will not eat any creature that has a face—especially if its name is Duane or Staci”). 

Thinking of Yew This Season

Likewise, this column won’t please Las Vegans, a rumored sect of foodies who eat only what’s available at garish casino buffets, whose offerings are free if you promise to go back into the main room once you’re full and piss away your entire Roth-IRA. 

Nor will today’s installment please grammarians, who are said to eat columnists like me for lunch.  Wait. Make that “columnists such as I.” 

Anyway, my team and I have arranged these alphabetically so you can easily copy and paste them into your recipe book or family bible. No extra charge.

  1. BEET STEAK: Raw beets do more than stain everything they come in contact with. Now, mashed into a pulp and molded to look like little boneless, skinless steaks, they’ll satisfy your post-bowling need for a patty melt, provided you don’t mind that no matter how long they’re cooked they remain red.
  1. CARROTED ARTERIES: Since certain vegetables are said to have artery-cleaning properties—others are said to have beachfront properties, but that’s not for today’s discussion—one of my researchers has decided it’s high time for carrots to have their own complex digestive systems. I think this may be the result of this researcher having had too many “high times” himself (he’s the only young man I knew who ever thought the process of smoking salmon involved special papers, bongs, hookahs and the growing belief that Mars was trying to kill us. Idiot. Why would you need a hookah?).
  2. CELERY NEGOTIATION: Labor unions may have to be called in on this one, mainly because most shop stewards don’t understand puns. Essentially, this is just a few stalks of celery apprenticing to be journeymen kohlrabi someday.
  3. EDNA ST. VINCENT FILLET: “Dine like a Pulitzer Prize Poet” was the admittedly slim marketing premise of this concoction (discarded taglines included “Try it! It could be verse!”). This is simply a tofu-based “garden burger” wrapped in sonnets.
  4. NOT-A-BIRD ABOUT THIS TO ANYONE: It looks like a chicken but it’s really just a vegetable-sprayed ice sculpture in the form of a very surprised capon. Eat quickly and have flavored straws on hand for late arrivals.
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  1. ORANGE YEW DONE: Yes, some trees are edible—but none less so than the yew, “a well-known poisonous plant. Eating a relatively small quantity of leaves can be fatal for livestock and humans,” according to the often accurate Wikipedia. So you simply must never dine on this one, presented here simply in the interest of obviously sadistic wordplay.
  2. PASTROMNEY (BOILED OVEN MITTS): I once accidentally left an oven mitt in the broiler after removing a ribeye roast and forgetting to turn off the stove. When the aroma of scalding cotton reached my nostrils, I sprang into action and asked a dinner guest trying to out-macho me all evening—“You don’t play naked lacrosse, Ed? Oh, that’s right, you’re from New York”—if he’d mind removing the burning glove. He leapt into the project and when he pulled out the glove, it smelled a lot like the ribeye roast, owing to the juices having splashed onto it. To out-macho the guest, I chewed off a hunk of it. “Tasted a little like chicken,” I believe I said to the Heimlich-maneuver paramedic before losing consciousness.
  3. PRIME FIB: This meal is likely to become popular among venture capitalists and hedge fund managers‑not for their substance but for its catchy name, which is often the case with financial “instruments.” It consists of nothing more than putting a loaf of bread in front of somebody and calling it a triple-A investment. Horsey Sauce from Arby’s is optional and may even increase the credulity of the scam.
  4. BARN RAISIN: One of the only products on our list that sounds like what it is: a lunch-box serving of Sun-Maid® raisins one of our researchers found in his Uncle Jedediah’s horse barn in rural Winters, California (tourism come-on: “Visit Winters. Or During Those Other Seasons”). The researcher said that even though the box had been there for at least a year, the raisins inside (“but not the lookalike ants”) were still delicious.

“I wouldn’t put them on your morning bowl of Special K,” he said, “unless you were hoping to be known as a cereal killer.” (That researcher, you’ll be pleased to know, has been placed on indefinite furlough, on charges of textual harassment.)

  1. RHUBARBECUE: We’ll let Self Magazine sell this to you: “Rhubarb,” it says, “is a good source of magnesium and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, potassium and manganese. It is also low in saturated fat and sodium, and very low in cholesterol.” I’ve heard it can also recite the Esperanto alphabet backwards and actually knows the third verse of “The Star-Spangled Banner” but studies are still underway.
  2. ROAST MURKY: You’ve heard of “mystery meat,” the non-chicken item that used to be served on domestic airline flights. It’s sometimes called “Swiss steak,” as though the Swiss, who came up with terrific chocolate and aerated lunch cheese (but not, surprisingly, the cuckoo clock), would have had anything to do with it. Resembling the ugliest bird in North America, the murky is in reality a pureed sweet-potato statuette with extra starch to give it a texture similar to modeling clay.
  3. SPAM I AM (NOT): Since no one really knows, nor wants to, the ingredient of genuine Spam, we, too, are reserving the right to remain silent on the issue.
  4. SHEPHERD’S PI: What our tech team likes to call math’ed potatoes. Often depicted like so—π—mainly to irritate typesetters, pi has a value of about 3.14159, but you’ll notice that the calculator in your smartphone doesn’t include it on the keyboard. The manufacturers probably assumed you weren’t going to have a moment during the day when you needed to use it to figure out a bar tab (“Okay, Leslie ordered π more Cosmopolitans than Elvira had, meaning Leslie owes…”).

  1. SHRIMP CROCKTAIL: Since shrimp is already the most elusive component in most shrimp cocktails—especially the ones you’re served at most Happy Hours, which consist of ketchup, horseradish, a lemon wedge and one or two baby shrimps (a term that seems redundant)—we’ve concocted a meal that mimics the famous appetizer but uses edamame in place of the seafood. Pour some Worcestershire sauce over everything and you won’t be able to tell the difference between our crocktail and the famous cocktail. And if you really can’t, you may want to be tested for ageusia, a condition that removes the ability to detect taste. It’s said to be a favorite of Trump casino decorators.
  2. WRAPSCALLIONS. These mischievous-sounding rascals are often mistaken for green onions, especially when guys like me—sorry, guys such as I—can’t find the chives in the produce section, so go home and just pour onion powder on their baked potato (then smother it all in sour cream, so they can’t taste the onion powder. Men’s minds are not tough to parse). Anyway, my researchers have taken the skin off avocados, stuffed them with scallions, green onions or chives, and sealed this little package of goodness and halitosis with wooden toothpicks. Serve them as your only hors oeuvres at the beginning of a dinner party and watch your guests socially distance without being told to.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).