Sunday, January 04, 2004

Homer: "I'm trying to impress people here, Lisa. You don't win friends with salad."

Bart: [forming conga line with Homer] "You don't win friends with salad! You don't win friends with salad!"

Sigh. Vegan bashing. To recap: Over a week ago, PokerVegan posted that he was estatic about MadCow disease in this country. Go read it yourself, I'm not reposting that crap here. I was pretty damn offended. Mister Decker weighed in as well.

So he finally saw the rants and said he didn't mean what he said. I'll allow PokerVegan the benefit of the doubt here, and accept his revisionist clarification. That being said, his original post, in the spirit of it, still seemed rather celebratory. I'm sure the mad cow thing, for nazi vegans, was taken as a victory for their cause. That's certainly the way his post read to me and even to other vegans.

But again, it could have been an honest mistake and I'm willing to believe him.

I really shouldn't bother because their own words are enough. I agree with Scott whole-heartedly.
Anyone that can use the phrase "fellow mammals" with a straight face doesn't deserve the attention paid to him thus far, much less a rational counterargument.

Sorry Scott, but I'm gonna bash away in lieu of poker tonight. Just skip to the bottom of the post if this bores you.

I'm happy Vegan took the high road, though. However, I'm surprised that it took him an entire freaking week to discover my rant (see prior post) and Mr. Decker's Fuck You. Anyone who works as a webmaster and has a vanity domain name like NETGOD oughta be on top of things.

I'll admit to being a foodie. I love to cook and somehow have more cookbooks than poker books. So I remembered Anthony Bourdain's rant in one of his books, A Cook's Tour, a follow-up to his superb best-seller, Kitchen Confidential. Anthony, a 28 year veteran of professional kitchens in NYC, is currently the executive chef at brassierre Les Halles in Manhattan. A Cook's Tour is a behind the scenes look at his world travels on his popular Food Network TV show.

Suffice to say, he knows his shit. Best of all, like all chefs, he dislikes vegans and everything they stand for. Here's a snippet:

Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistant irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food. The body, these waterheads imagine, is a temple that should not be polluted by animal protein. It's healthier, they insist, though every vegetarian waiter I've worked with is brought down by a rumor of a cold. Oh, I'll accomodate them, I'll rummage around for something to feed them, for a "vegetarian plate," if called on to do so. Fourteen dollars for a few slices of grilled eggplant and zucchini suits my food cost fine.

Good stuff. Now I *could* round up the massive amounts of anti-vegan material laying around there on the web, but I assume you know how to Google. Lotsa funny stuff out there.

For that reason, I'm going to excerpt Anthony's rant about vegetarians for your reading pleasure. He's in the vegan epicenter, San Francisco, by the way, for a taping of his show.

Anthony, the floor is yours:


I'm going to try - really try - to be nice here. I went along with the producers scheme. Fair is fair. The opposition should be given every chance to prove the righteousness of their cause - or at least the merits of their case. The people coming to dinner, the folks who'd be cooking for me, were all serious vegans. Cookbook authors. Vegan cookery teachers. People who spent lots of time going to seminars, classes, corresponding with others of their ilk - online, in chat rooms, and at conventions and informal gatherings. Maybe, just maybe, they had something to show me. Maybe it was possible to make something good without meat, or stock, or butter, or cheese, or dairy products of any kind. Who was I to sneer? The world, I had discovered, was a big, strange and wonderful place. I'd eaten tree grubs and worms and sheep's testicals. How bad could it be?


The vegans I visited did not live in a converted ashram on a hilltop, tending to their crops in bare feet or Birkenstocks. No one was named Rainbow or Sunflower. Only one person wore a sari. My hosts lived in a kempt modern luxury home in an exclusive area of the suburbs, surrounded by green lawns and shiny new BMWs and SUVs. They were, all of them, affluent-looking professionals and executives. Ranging in age from mid thirties to early fifties, they were all well dressed, unfailingly nice, eager to show me their side of the argument.

And not one of them could cook a fucking vegetable.

Fergus Henderson, the grand master of blood and guts cookery, shows more respect for the simple side of sauteed baby spinach on his plates than any of these deluded vegans showed me in ten elaborate courses. Green salads were dressed hours before being served, ensuring that they had wilted into nutrition-free sludge. The knife work - even from the cooking teachers present - was clumsy and inept, resembling the lesser efforts of younger members of the Barney Rubble clan.

The vegetables - every time - were uniformly overcooked, under seasoned, nearly colorless, and abused, any flavor, texture and lingering vitamin content leeched out. Painstaking re-creations of 'cheese', 'yogurt' and 'cream' made from various unearthly soy products tasted, invariably, like caulking compound, and my hosts, though good humored and friendly to the stranger in their midst, seemed terrified, even angry about something nebulous in their pasts. Every time I asked one of them about how and when exactly they had decided to forgo all animal products, the answer always seemed to involve a personal tragedy or disappointment unrelated to food.

"I got a divorce," began one. "I lost my job," said another. "Heart attack," offered another. "I broke up with my . . ." "When I decided to move out of LA, I started thinking about things . . ."

In every case, it appeared to me that something had soured them on the world they'd once embraced - and that they now sought new rules to live by, another orthodoxy, something else to believe in.

"Did you read about the PCBs in striped bass?" one whispered urgently, as if comforted by the news. "I saw online where they're pumping steroids into cattle," said another breathlessly, every snippet of bad news from the health front a victory to their cause. They seemed to spend an awful lot of time confirming their fears and suspicions of the world outside their own, combing the Internet for stories of radioactive dairy products, genetically altered beets, polluted fish, carcinogenic sausages, spongiform-riddled meat, the hideous Grand Guignol chamber of horror abattoirs and slaughterhouses.

They also seemed curiously oblivious to the fact that much of the world goes to bed hungry every night, that our basic design features as humans, from the beginning of our evolution, developed around the very real need to hunt down slower, stupider animals, kill them and eat them. "Don't you ever wake up in the middle of the night craving bacon?" I asked.

"No. Never," replied every single one of them. "I've never felt so healthy in my life."

It was difficult for me to be polite. I'd just returned from Cambodia, where a chicken can be the difference between life and death. These people in their comfortable suburban digs were carping about cruelty to animals but suggesting that everyone in the world, from suburban yuppie to starving Cambodian, start buying organic vegetables and expensive soy substitutes. To look down on entire cultures that've based everything on the gathering of fish and rice seemed arrogant to the extreme.

I've heard of vegans feeding their dogs vegetarian meals. Now that's cruelty to animals. And the hypocrisy of it all pissed me off. Just being able to talk about this issue in a reasonably grammatical language is a priviledge. Being able to read these words, no matter how stupid, offensive or wrong-headed is a priviledge, your reading skills the end product of a level of education most of the world will never enjoy. Our whole lives - our homes, the shoes we wear, the cars we drive, the food we eat - all built on a mountain of skulls. But is meat murder? Fuck no.

Murder, as one of my Khmer Rouge pals might tell you, is what his next-door neighbor did to his whole family back in the seventies. Murder is what happens in Cambodia, parts of Africa, Central and South America, and in former Soviet republics when the police chief's idiot son decides he wants to turn your daughter into a whore and you don't like the idea. Murder is what Hutus do to Tutsis, Serbs to Croats, Russians to Uzbeks, Crips to Bloods. And vice-versa. It's black Chevy Suburbans pulling up outside your house at three in the morning and dragging away your suspiciously unpatriotic and overopinionated son. Murder is what that man sitting across from you in Phnom Penh does for a living - so he can afford a satellite dish for his roof, so he can watch our Airwolf reruns, MTV Asia, and Pam Anderson running in slow motion down a S. Cal beach.

Hide in your fine homes and eat vegetables, I was thinking. Put a Greenpeace or NAACP bumper sticker on your Beemer if it makes you feel better (so you can drive your kid to their all-white schools). Save the rainforest - by all means - so maybe you can visit it someday, on an ecotour, wearing, comfortable shoes made by ten year olds in forced labor. Save a whale while millions are sold into slavery, starved, fucked to death, shot, tortured, forgotten. When you see cute kids crying in rubble next to Sally Struthers somewhere, be sure to send a few dollars.

Damn! I was going to try and be nice.


And then, contrasting the pathetic vegan "meal", our hero, Anthony, heads to the best restaurant in the country, The French Laundry, for the dinner of a lifetime. For the record, the French Laundry cookbook is better suited as a coffee-table book than an actual cookbook for the home chef. It's still a great gift for any foodies in your life.

To understand, I would recommend any vegan to read, "The Soul of a Chef," by Michael Ruhlman. There are ZERO vegetarian Master Chefs. Go read the reality of world-class, five-star cooking. Flat-earth society types need not apply.

K, sorry for the vegan tangent. I've been wanting to type up that anti-vegan screed by Bourdain for a long time now and this was an excuse to do so. Feel free to copy and paste it to your favorite vegan mailing list or message board.

I wish I could find a Hunter S. Thompson quote about vegetarians, damnit.

So let's wrap this up with poker. That's why we're all here, right?

So I played in my $200 no-limit tournament this weekend. Over 900 players. Around 50k for first. After two hours I had almost doubled my chips with zero cards. When the blinds hit $600 an orbit and my stack getting whittled down, I needed a hand and fast. I finally moved in with AT and got called by giant stack who had KK. No ace, so I finished around 350th. Still, I did well for not getting cards and damn, the players were dropping like flies. If I had managed to double-thru or catch some cards at the right moment, I woulda been fighting for money (they paid out nearly 100 places).

Poker linkage, from me to you:

TV poker -- hold 'em and watch 'em

For the poker pros, luck is what the other guys need

Van Patten Wagers on Reality Poker

It's full house as poker deals TV a winning hand

Back to all poker tomorrow, I swear.

Straight dope on vegans
I feel like I'm arguing that the Pope is Catholic.

Link of the day:
VEGANS: Modern Day Witches
When Cain and Abel offered gifts to the Lord, Abel gave the Lord the fat he cut off the hides of his flock whereas Cain gave the Lord a fruit and vegetable tray. The Lord loved Abel’s offering of something that would stick to His holy ribs and despised Cain’s lesser offering of mere produce.

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