Okay, we're doing something a little different around here. First, we are opening up the floor for out-of-town suggestions on excellent vegetarian fare, as we're had so many emails asking for suggetions here and there. Well, we've never been to Alaska, but I'm sure some vegetarian has! So, email or post your suggestions and we'll have every vegetarian happily dining in no time.
But, the biggest news of all is that we're going to start giving out our Vegetarian of the Month award, and just as we had this idea, we heard a vegetarian friend of a friend was launching a virtual book tour! How could we not
invite her to stop by? And, she's a fun, smart, active vegetarian who gives all of us vegetarians a good name, so how could be not make her our Vegetarian of the Month? So, without any further ado, we present Amy Guth
, author of our favorite new novel, "Three Fallen Women"
. (That link takes you to the publisher, so you can buy it for a discounted rate direct! Hey, we do our homework!)
CAULI & BROC: What is your favorite veg meal in Chicago?
AMY GUTH: I think the best meal I’ve had in Chicago was the seasonal vegetarian prix fixe menu from Ambria
. Ohhh, every bite was delicious and I had an incredible bottle of wine. Mmmm, that was a great meal. Sometimes you have to go all out and live it up.
C&B: What about on a budget?
AG: It’s a tie between Standard Indian
near the Belmont el stop and Thai Aroma
, Uptown. You can really feast at both of them for only a few bucks and the food is insanely good. I go to both of them all the time. I'm sort of a predictable regular at Thai Aroma. (Laughs)
C&B: You're travelling all over the country and then some to promote your excellent new novel, "Three Fallen Women"
. Have you found it difficult to travel so much lately as a vegetarian?
AG: A little. I’m driving for as much of my book tour as I can because I love roadtrips and I pack lots of snacks—hummus, pita, sesame crackers, cheeses, olives, fruit, vegetables, juices and water. That makes it pretty doable. But, for the record, finding vegetarian food in rural Tennessee or Kentucky is really difficult. There is a subway near the border, but they seemed amazed that I didn’t want cold cuts on my sandwich!
C&B: Have you had any great vegetarian eats on the road lately?
AG: One of my favorite things is traveling to a new place and finding a local vegetarian to help to hunt down the best vegetarian place.
C&B: Wonderful! We love travel! Any highlights?
AG: I had this incredible barbecue tofu wrap with granny smith coleslaw at Sweet Leaf
in Savannah, GA. The General Tso’s tofu at Little House and the sweet potato fries with honey-pecan mayo at The Cowgirl Hall of Fame
, both in Santa Fe, NM, are pretty incredible. Oh, and a vegetarian can fare surprisingly well at Mirbeau
just outside of Syracuse. They have this sweet potato soup that is absolutely perfect.
C&B: Are any of your book characters vegetarians?
AG: I don’t think they are, but that did occur to me as I was writing it because I mention a couple of foods in the book. The Frieda character is definetly not a vegetarian, as her favorite food is meatloaf. Carmen is too wasted to eat much, I imagine, and Helen could be, but I think at this point in her life, she is just getting through life and figuring things out. She’s probably on that path. Without a doubt. I do use the word “vegetarian” in the book, though. Right there on the first page.
C&B: Oh, we hear you make a killer vegetarian meatloaf. Is that true?
AG: Well, I'm not one to toot my own horn, but after much trial and error, I figured out how to make it just right.
C&B: What is your favorite vegetarian convenience/junk food?
AG: Hmm. I’m not much of a junk food type. I’m the nerd who actually really likes vegetables and tofu. I could sit down and eat olives
all day, though, I think. Give me a glass of good wine
and a couple of types of olives and I’m a happy camper.
C&B: Surely there must be something junky you like? Anything?
AG: Oh sure! Well, I don’t really have a sweet tooth, but I like salt. When I’m frustrated or nervous, I like noisy crunchy food. Carrots, whole wheat tortilla chips and salsa, even Cheeze-its. Crunch-a-crunch-a-crunch-a.
C&B: What is your pet peeve about other vegetarians?
AG: Some vegetarians give the rest of us a bad name! Some people claim to be vegetarians when they only avoid red meat, which is frustrating. And, some call themselves vegetarians, then abandon it because they feel lethargic or they notice themselves gaining a lot of weight—and it’s all because they became “junkatarians” rather than vegetarians. I’ve met vegetarians that live on an all-junk, starch diet. Gross. So, people totally get the idea that "vegetarian" means only avoiding chicken or fish, or that we're unhealthy or weak. Ohh, also sometimes people are defensive right away because they assume you're going to try to convert them, which I think is terrible. I'm secure in knowing vegetariansm is the right choice for me, but I don't have the right to tell anyone else have to live or eat. No way!
C&B: Olympic Gold Medalist Carl Lewis
is a vegetarian. In fact, you ran a marathon, right?
AG: I did! I found an organic peanut butter I fell in love with and it was my super-food during training. It's funny-- when I first stated training, my coaches told me I might find a particular food that really worked for me and that I'd know because I'd start really craving it. That's so true! I would crave this particular peanut butter! Even now, going for a good, long run without having peanut butter earlier that day seems weird. I should be their spokesperson. (Laughs)
C&B: What makes Chicago a good town to be a vegetarian in?
AG: You know, when I moved to Chicago from New York City a few years ago, I was amazed by how vegetarian-friendly it is. I've even found a few places, places notorious for having meat-heavy menus, like German and barbecue restaurants, that have had vegetarian offerings. I haven't been able to put my finger on it yet, just why it's so easy to be a vegetarian here, but I'm pretty happy about it.
And we're pretty happy to have Amy Guth
stop by. She and her books are welcome anytime.
(Know someone you'd like to nominate for Vegetarian of the Month? Well, speak up!)