Monday, February 27, 2012

Thinking about vegan cooking as an art form

My previous post mentioned that I was launching myself into new waters with a raft of recipe substitutes and a vegan cookbook. Fortunately, some meals I enjoy – especially Mexican and Indian dishes - are already “accidentally” vegan or could fairly easily be made so. But it appears to me that vegan cuisine (if it can even be called that) in the US is still in its infancy. While there are exceptions, vegan cooking and eating are still associated with poor imitations and denial rather than celebration, pleasure, flavor, and art. (I could be missing some important exceptions, and if I am I hope people lead me to the right places.) There's still little place for the champagne vegan.

But all of this makes it exciting - like a new art form! Cuttlefish wrote yesterday that he would and should never be NPR’s NewsPoet* because his respect for verse forms is absolute:
And that, in a nutshell, is why I am not a poet. My villanelle does repeat the lines, and does rhyme, and I could no more bend the rules of the form than I could fly. For me, the metric form, the rhymes, the feet, of specific verse forms, is to be obsessively followed. The specific constraints force us to write creatively; breaking the rules is the easy way out. Mind you, there’s plenty of unconstrained poetry forms out there; there is no need to deconstruct a highly structured form simply for expression’s sake.

I am not a poet, firstly, because I lack the skill or the will (or both) to unshackle myself from my forms. I am not a poet, secondly, because (or so it seems to me) those who decide who are real poets do not accept those who accept the shackles.
I think the constraints of vegan cooking also (can) push people to work creatively. Of course, vegan cooking differs from adherence to verse forms in that the primary motivation is ethical rather than artistic, which means that there is no parallel to unconstrained poetry forms that would be acceptable. But it doesn’t mean that the formal requirements of vegan cooking can’t similarly inspire creativity, and I submit that they can.

I might chart my attempts at vegan cooking here, as well as my requests to friends who are serious cooks to prepare vegan dishes….

*I disagree, and think he would be outstanding in that role.

No comments:

Post a Comment