breaking vegan news
Thursday, October 10 2019
On my drive to work this morning, there was a dead porcupine on the east shoulder of US 209 just north of Old Hurley. One doesn't often see roadkilled porcupines, even though porcupines are as fearless as skunk. This is probably related to the fact that porcupines tend to live in the uplands, away from most of the roads and fast-moving vehicles. But this porcupine had come down out of the uplands and was unprepared for the ways of the lowlanders.
A week or so ago my boss Alex had heard about a reading at the Golden Notebook by a gentleman named Mikhail Horowitz of a book entitled Ancient Baseball. Alex couldn't make it to the reading, but he'd been intrigued. Supposedly ball-and-bat-based sports date back thousands of years and are of interest to him. So he'd told me to have Gretchen get him a copy of the book (which cost $16.20). Today I delivered the thin volume to Alex, and before long he was leafing through it at his desk. It wasn't long before he was grumbling that he wanted his money back. The book wasn't anything like he'd expected. Instead of being a serious history of ball-and-bat sports, it was a gag book consisting mostly of photoshopped images combining historical baseball photographs with images from ancient archæology. Most of the writing consisted of puns and stupid dad jokes combining names like Hammurabi with baseball jargon.
Early this afternoon, I decided to treat myself (for the first time in weeks) to lunch at a restaurant. I wasn't sure as I set out on the foot which restaurant I would end up at. Would it be the Golden Wok? No, too sweet and greasy for my mood. Would it be Bubbys? Maybe, but eating the whole garden salad that comes with a burrito would be too much of a chore. This was how I ended up at Wildflower Café, the vegan burger place with the inexplicably slow service and slightly uncomfortable ambiance. When I entered the restaurant, there was only one person in there, and he was sitting at a table finishing his lunch. He looked like the main guy who works there, but I'm terrible with distinguishing people, so it was possible he was just a customer and the person who was supposed to be manning the store had either fled to Mexico or hung herself in the bathroom. In any case, I went to the counter thinking someone would probably materialize to take my order. I even took pains to make seemingly-accidental noises so the guy at the table, if he was actually an employee, would hear me and turn around and see that I was in need of service. None of that worked, so I looked into the adjacent store that connects to Wildflower through a hallway containing the bathroom (which smelled strongly of whatever soap is used in dental offices) and then grabbed a menu and walked out to the street. Only then did the one guy in the restaurant take notice of me. Mind you, this was at an hour when a normal restaurant would've had at least a few people at tables eating lunch. But Wildflower is not a normal restaurant.
When I went to place my order, I was alarmed to see that, well, Wildflower is no longer vegan. There were now options to have a burger made with "grass-fed" beef. One could also get cheese, and there were things (such as mushroom gravy) that only existed in non-vegan forms. What the fuck had happened? Still, I didn't register any of this, acting as if I was a vegan who had wandered into Wildflower knowing nothing of its history or (apparently former) mission. I just wanted a vegan burger with fries. Recently, by the way, there had been several options for vegan patties, but at Wildflower these days, if you want a vegan patty, it has to be an Impossible Burger. I'm okay with that, but some people would not be.
After placing my order, I took a seat at the table nearest the door and settled in for what I knew would be a very long wait as the gentleman who had taken my order proceeded to make my sandwich and fries. As I waited, there was an unexpected "thwip!" sound and I saw that an enormous Japanese hornet had landed on the table beside me. The door to the restaurant was open, so I was able to get the hornet to climb on to a free magazine, which I took out to the sidewalk and flicked upwards to sky. The hornet flew off to terrorize someone else.
Eventually my burger and fries came. I'd ordered the burger with pepper jack Follow Your Heart faux cheese, mushrooms, and jalapeños, and it was pretty good (though the patty was surprisingly dry). As for the fries, they had a weird aftertaste and weren't very good. A strong indication of how badly Wildflower has been doing was the fact that the ketchup in the bottle on my table had begun to separate, and the first substance coming out of it was a clear lymph-like fluid. That's not very appetizing.
It's a little thing, but when you're already annoyed that the vegan restaurant you don't even like isn't even vegan anymore, the last thing you want is the employee who tried to ignore you so he wouldn't have to make you lunch to shout-ask you from across the restaurant if everything is okay. When I eat lunch, I just want to be left alone, the way they do at a normal lunch restaurant like Bubby's or the Golden Wok.
Back at the office, I immediately posted the news to the private Facebook group Hudson Valley Vegans (there are three, but the one that matters is the one with the most members). I assumed that it must already be well-known that Wildflower had stopped being vegan, but I was wrong. This was the first that anyone in the group had heard of it. I often feel like I'm the last to know things, but when it comes to vegan news, this is actually the second one I've broken to people who should've been in the know. (The first was the existence of the new vegan flavor of Stewarts icecream.)
Tonight when I got home, I took the dogs on a walk down the Farm Road and then over to the Stick Trail, where I did a small amount of work on my stone wall. Then, back at the house, I painted a small painting of a crown jelly, again using as my model a white line drawing on a black background from the Peterson Field Guide to the Atlantic Seashore. Meanwhile Gretchen was in New Haven giving a reading at the University of New Haven. She would be coming back tonight with lots of vegan junk food from Three Girls Vegan Creamery, which is near there.
A painting of a crown jelly.
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