Here’s a unique opening for a DVD on cooking vegetarian food – have the two student cooks and the instructor assure us they eat meat and then have them go out hunting. And no, not for truffles.
You wouldn’t think that any DVD on vegetarian cooking would open like that, but then you haven’t seen Cooking with Class: No Meat No Problem, which was produced in association with the Culinary Arts Department of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT).
Fortunately the opening scene ends with the instructor getting his rifle out of his truck and the three of them donning their orange hats and vests and heading into the woods.
I gather the hunt was unsuccessful, because we next cut to our student cooks, unarmed and in street clothes, discussing vegetarian dishes from four different cuisines. I wasn’t sure if they were trying to say that these four cuisines were selected because they serve lots of great vegetarian food (which they do), or if they were saying only non-North American people eat vegetarian food (which isn’t true).   Regardless, this segment would have been fine except for the awkward and uncomfortable moments during the food tastings.  It was almost like this was the very first time our cooks had heard of some of these foods, let alone tasted them.
Note to others thinking of making a food video: try the food first to see if you like it.  Looking like you want to spit it out while trying it in front of the person who made it is not the coolest thing you will ever do.  Okay – they are students and not everyone has access to or eats a culturally varied diet, but still.
In one scene featuring Chinese food we see that one of the ingredients on the table is fish sauce. This may come as a surprize to some, but fish are not vegetables. If you eat a plant based diet and fish you are a pescetarian, not a vegetarian. The distinction matters because if you have a fish or shellfish allergy you could end up with a very serious problem if there is a shrimp or fish sauce hidden in your noodles.  Accuracy matters.
Red cabbage.  Note the lack of gills

Red cabbage.  No gills.

Speaking of accuracy – if you are using fish, chicken or other meats in your “vegetarian” dish, “vegetarian” should be in quotes.  You know, for accuracy.
Back at the school our cooks start preparing a vegetarian meal.  We don’t know what it will be because they don’t tell us.*   We do know that one student is making one thing and the other is preparing a pastry crust, which will be baked on a baking sheet.  He tells us we can grease our baking sheet with cooking spray … or lard.  LARD?!
He tells us this while working the pastry for the mystery dish.  To be honest I didn’t really care what they were making or what they are using because I am too busy looking at his hands. Umm – does he have dirty fingernails? And is that a cut on his finger?  Did I mention he is the one handling the pastry? With his hands?
Fortunately we cut away to the dietician, who mentions various interesting and fun “vegetarian” facts including the funnest fact of all – some “vegetarians” eat fish and even chicken.  She didn’t say anything about lard.
She didn’t have to.  After all, there is a pig wearing a top hat and a bow tie on the cover of this DVD.  At first I assumed they chose the jauntily dressed pig because the pig is about to go out for a nice vegetarian meal. But the lard comment makes me wonder …  maybe that pig is their dinner.
If you want to eat a plant based diet Google vegetarian or vegan and prepare to be overwhelmed.  Googling Vegetarian will generate almost 42 million hits.  Want some great, no nonsense advice on living a healthy vegan life? Pay a visit to the Vegan RD.   There are millions of excellent resources out there to choose from, but No Meat No Problem isn’t one of them.
A lovely shot of me holding bounty from my garden.  I look great in this photo.

A lovely shot of me holding bounty from my garden. Note the clean hands.

Parts of this review originally appeared in the comments / review section of the Ottawa Public Library under the user name JDC.  I wasn’t originally going to write anything about this video because I thought it was just available at the library.  Turns out you can buy it.

*I didn’t notice that they were making a mystery dinner when I saw the video – a commenter at the Ottawa Public Library, HereHere, pointed that out in their review of this video.

Copyright © JD Cottier
March 2014
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