At the beginning of 2017 I took over the operation of a pay-what-you-can vegan lunch café here in the heart of meat-and-potatoes Midwest America. On December first, I gave myself a daily blogging challenge to write about this café, to tell its story, and maybe figure out a little of my own story in the process. This is Post #23.
In the age of Google it surprises me when people tell me they have no idea what to do with a chickpea. Young people, especially, who are so adept at everything online. “I have no clue how to cook a chickpea,” one 20-something person said to me recently. “I wouldn’t know where to start.”
I’m thinking that, if pressed, they would know exactly where start: with the search bar. But I suspect it’s not that they have no idea, it’s that they have no time.
When I stroll through the supermarket I am forever astonished at the growing number of heat-and-eat products on the shelves. The creepiest ones are the vacuum-sealed shelf-stable meals in transparent packaging, sitting right there next to the canned soup and boxed macaroni. Complete with meat, vegetable, sauce and starch, all sealed and presumably so sanitary, no refrigeration is required. Those are really disconcerting.
But I get it. More times that I can count, I’ve come home from work and not wanted to cook a thing for myself. Exhaustion is not your friend in the kitchen.
And as someone recently pointed out to me, yes, you can prepare lots of stuff on the weekend so you have ready-to-heat food when you come home from your job, but that means a significant portion of your so-called time off is essentially given over to serving the demands of your job. Who wants that?
We’re allowed to choose where we invest our time. We really are.
It takes me a leisurely three hours to prepare lunch for 30. If pressed I can do it in two, but it isn’t as much fun.
If we ever get to the point where the demand for our meals exceeds what I can do in those leisurely three hours, I would rather someone open another vegan café in town to handle the excess. I have no desire to corner the market on serving fresh, plant-based food. Let there be little cafés everywhere.
I think there will be plenty of people happy to fill them.