Yesterday I attended a lovely raw vegan lunch hosted by Vitamix for the launch of the Professional Series 750. As a vegetarian I rarely go to these events as they tend to be sponsored by meat and fish brands (especially here in NZ) but this time the menu was designed by the NZ queen of raw food, chef Megan May of Little Bird, so thank you Vitamix for the invite, finally an event I could attend (and eat everything!). Megan also demonstrated three recipes with Vitamix, my favourite was the nut cheese (pictured below on the raw cracker) made with soaked cashews, macadamia, water, onion, salt and lemon, plus some herbs (parsley, chives and dill) added after the blending of nuts.
The first time I got into raw food was in 1991, I was living in London then, and I had been a vegetarian for a few years already. A friend suggested this book, which was already old by then, I immediately got it from the library and read it cover to cover in no time. The appeal then was never a complete raw diet for me, but just the fact that I felt that the local (British) vegetarians didn't eat enough raw salads, fruit and veggies, while I was looking for something more. In fact the local vegetarians seemed to eat even less vegetables than a carnivorous Italian male would! If I was eating a salad people would come up to me and say that my meal was wrong because it lacked protein, while their baked beans on toast were perfectly balanced. I just could not accept this, a part from the fact that canned baked beans on toast do not appeal to fussy Italians like me, I felt that this obsession with certain types of protein in every meal was too heavy on my stomach, and that greens gave me something more, like a 'life force'. The book, entitled Raw Energy, had some good points, but sadly the recipes were not my cup of tea - they lacked fantasy and taste, and I didn't see the point in most of them.
Raw food has definitely developed since then, and there are more ingredients available now. Still, before launching myself on the platter of starters that reached out table yesterday I did ask around if there was any meat or fish in them, a sad by necessary habit of mine, and one of the diners told me, matter-of-fact, that it was all raw, i.e. vegan. This proved to me that there are still a few misconceptions about the raw diet: raw veganism may be the trend now, but I have met raw foodists who eat (raw) meat and fish. Raw food is not uniquely vegan or vegetarian. But fortunately for me Little Bird's food is, in fact, all vegan, and organic too!
And of course raw food is not just salads and juices, as Megan showed us on the day. At the end of the meal I was so full that I didn't need dinner, just one of the dishes, or even the opening smoothie (which I forgot to photograph) would have been enough for me, since I don't eat that much. But I just had to try everything and then wait for dessert, a luscious chocolate and hazelnut tart!
These days there is plenty of raw food on my table, (if you are looking for raw vegan recipes click here) but I don't use a dehydrator or practice low temperature cooking; when I cook I cook (and bake and fry and all that) and when I don't I am all for salads, dips, juices and smoothies and raw desserts that tend to be more like traditional raw recipes, and mostly made with cheap everyday seasonal local produce, rather than anything fancy. And like most people I have a juicer, a blender, knives and mortar and pestle, although now I may just need a Vitamix to make that nut cheese :-)!
Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©