Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy

Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy: Down Home Classics for Vegetarians (and the Meat Eaters Who Love Them)

by Damaris Phillips
Setting: United States
Published on October 17, 2017
Format: eBook Source: Library

Damaris Phillips is a southern chef in love with an ethical vegetarian. Growing up, greens were made with pork, and it wasn’t Sunday without fried chicken. So she had to transform the way she cooks. In Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy, Phillips shares 100 recipes that embody the modern Southern kitchen: food that retains all its historic comfort and flavor, but can now be enjoyed by vegetarians and meat-lovers alike.   The book features Phillips’s most cherished entrees from her childhood made both with and without meat: Chicken Fried Steak becomes Chicken Fried Seitan Steak. Loaded Potato and Bacon Soup is now Loaded Potato and Facon Soup. She gives down-home side dishes a makeover by removing meat, adding interna­tional spices, and updating cooking techniques, and offers soul-satisfying, irresistible desserts that triumph over the meat-eater-versus-vegetarian divide, every time. Phillips found a way to make Southern food that everyone can enjoy, wherever they are on their culinary journey.  

I was scrolling through the available ebooks on my library app when I saw this cookbook. I have a habit of checking out most of the vegetarian cookbooks that I see. I wasn’t familiar with this author but apparently she was on the Food Network.

It is immediately apparent that this is not really a cookbook for vegetarians. This is a cookbook for someone who knows a vegetarian and can’t figure out what to cook for them.

She discusses how heartbroken she was that she met a great guy who happened to be a vegetarian. Meat is super important to her.

Within weeks of our first date we were scratching our heads trying to figure out how we would bridge our culinary and ethical gap. On a practical level, I wondered about grocery shopping and food placement in the refrigerator. Would we use two sets of pans, one for meat and one vegetarian? Would we make two meals every night? Would our kids eat meat? How would we talk to them about our ethical differences without demonizing each other? 

These are good questions. As a vegetarian living with a meat eater these are things that we’ve worked out. But then she goes on.

As with any food constraint, the easiest approach to take is for everyone to follow the rules of the restrictions. For us that might mean creating a vegetarian household. Try as I did to open my mind and heart, the idea made me mad. I would be like a mechanic who doesn’t own a car or a concert pianist with only an electric keyboard. It just didn’t seem natural.

I had to take a moment.

Bless her heart.

Anyway, she came around to the idea. But then she started to adapt her meat-filled diet to vegetarian. She did this with a lot of meat substitutes. That’s pretty normal for people new to vegetarian cooking. Most people move past that stage pretty quickly and embrace vegetarian eating for what is instead of trying to “make it work.”

What gets me is that she talks about how hard she worked to figure out ways to adapt her recipes. The whole time I’m reading this I’m thinking, “Sweetie, did you Google?” You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There are thousands of online recipes for jackfruit pulled pork or vegan sloppy joes. Hers may have different spicing but the general idea is the same. I do appreciate that she has vegetarian and vegan versions of some recipes.

I will admit I’ve never seen a recipe for gouda and pistachio vegetarian sausages. (I’ve never eaten a sausage though so I wouldn’t have any basis for comparison.) She also gives a full meat version of most of these recipes for those times when you don’t have the weird vegetarian around.

There are a few recipes here that I’d like to try. I’m a sucker for anything pimento cheese even though if I ate the full dairy version it would be very self destructive. I may try to veganize her Pimento Cheese Baked Rice. I’d also try a variation on her Spinach Artichoke Mac and Cheese.

Overall I’d recommend checking this one out from the library before buying.