5 Honorary Meat Dishes

I’m a shameless carnivore, happy to be perched near the top of a providentially-designed food chain. I enjoy chunks of animal protein, I always have, and I always will. On this point, I share common ground with the Sage from Wasilla – “If God had not intended for us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat?“.

But even I find myself having meatless meals from time to time. Sometimes, my appetite strays from its carnivorous tendencies, and I find myself realizing after a tasty meal that there wasn’t any meat involved in a perfectly satisfying entree. Those entrees never are fussy messes of too-sharp onion, mesclun that looks and tastes like lawn clippings, or tofu. Instead, they are classic meals that transcend the need for meat.

I propose that the following 5 entrees be considered honorary meat dishes, and henceforth be recognized as unifying meals that can cause vegetarians and meat-lovers to sit down together without compromising satisfaction or principle.

1. Pizza Margherita: Dough, tomatoes, cheese and basil baked together in a pie that satisfies. Inspired by royalty, the classic Pizza Margherita’s ingredients achieve a purity that can only be sullied by pepperoni or italian sausage.

2. Macaroni and Cheese: Many of us lived on boxed versions of this during college years of relative poverty, and sumptuous new takes on the recipe often include lobster or pancetta. They’re all good, but the good old classic, with bread crumbs on top, deserves a spot in the pantheon of great meals.

3. Falafel: I was in college when a friend introduced me to fried globs of ground up chickpeas in pita bread; he told me it was the “Big Mac” of Israel. Falafel has been among my favorite foods ever since – a great one has flavors and textures that can blow you away.

4. Welsh Rabbit (or rarebit): It seems too simple to be satisfying, and too small to be filling. But the toasted english muffin with a savory, rich cheddar sauce described in The Vegetarian Epicure cookbook caught our attention back during the Reagan administration, and its simple satisfaction has remained a favorite. Served with a hearty ale, it’s a warming meal.

5. Pierogies: I may be a bit ahead of the curve on this one, in that pierogies are not as universally known or appreciated as pizza or mac cheese, but, trust me, these over-sized mutant ravioli are Polish soul food. Locally, Pieroguys are soon to open a cafe in the River Market, and their frozen offerings are found in a few grocery stores. Closer to home, you can make my mother’s version by following my narrative recipe.

What else belongs on this list? Eggplant parmesan, grilled cheese sandwiches, spaghetti with marinara sauce, portabella sandwiches?

5 Responses to “5 Honorary Meat Dishes”

  1. The Independent Rage says:

    Fancy dancy "good old classic" macaroni & cheese with bread crumbs on top? Not doing a whole lot for me. Instead, give me Aldi brand 33-cents-a-box mac'n'cheese any day of the week — just make sure to use fat free milk and butter to keep the saturated fat low (never eat Kraft out of a box — too much said fat as compared with the off-brands).

  2. Anonymous says:

    Agree with TIR. Bread crumbs? I prefer homemade because of taste in various cheeses (nothing fancy), but the plainer the better!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am glad you like meat so much, Dan!

    Keep packing it in!

    At EVERY MEAL if possible…especially lots of Red Meat.

    Its really good for you, and we want you to eats lots and lots of it!

    A Real Fan

  4. Jim says:

    Was the last anonymous post some sort of gay innuendo?

    Anyway, here's a vote for fettucine alfredo. I know that's basically macaroni and cheese, but (when done right) it's good enough to get its own spot.

    I'd also vote for the grilled cheese and the bean and cheese burrito.

  5. Anonymous says:

    for nice, hearty meatless meals that are complex and substantial, I'll take the following:

    1. Lasagna
    2. Paella

    also, how about soup (pea) with a nice piece of fresh, rustic bread?

    and, a guiness still qualifies as a meal in most pubs.

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