Ladies’ Luncheon
July 2, 2011

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This week, I wrote a big tribute post to the things I’m learning in my new home of Washington, DC. I could write as generous a tribute to my adorable neighborhood of Georgetown, which—in spite of being hopelessly inconvenient (there’s no metro stop in G-Town, which means that, if you don’t have a car, commuting anywhere else takes at least 45 minutes) is one of the more adorable and historically interesting parts of DC. It’s hard not to fall in love with the cobblestones and flag posts, the little square row houses and the beautiful waterfront park.

What’s less charming about Georgetown, though no less a part of the neighborhood’s identity, is its inherent blue blooded feel. It reminds me a lot of New York’s Upper East Side, where I went to high school: beautiful and elegant, but dominated nevertheless by designer boutiques, perfectly manicured nails, expensive jewelry, and, of course, the 12pm bloom of ladies who lunch.

Last Friday, my friend Kathy and I had our own ladies’ luncheon. That we could snicker a little about Georgetown’s patrician air made our lunch date a little different than the ones going on about us, but we enjoyed the touch of irony.

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Kathy and I have a lot in common: we’re both New Yorkers who just made the move to DC (Kathy paved the way for me this past spring). We’re both dedicated vegans. We’re both food bloggers—though Kathy’s dedicated posts and pristine photos put CR to shame! We’re chefs with similar palates and passions for both raw and cooked food (Kathy specializes more in the latter, and I specialize more in the former). And we’re both going through a series case of NYC restaurant withdrawal.

Kathy and I tried to keep our NYC homesickness to a minimum as we met up for lunch at Peacock Café, a local spot that a DC friend had made me aware of. Peacock’s menu is hardly innovative—it’s a standard array of salads, sandwiches, and soups. But it is notable for being vegan friendly, and even more for offering a juice bar—a DC rarity! Not surprisingly, Kathy and I started off with juices: hers was a beet, carrot, apple, ginger concoction, while I stuck to carrot, celery, apple, and ginger:

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Just look at the way I light up when I get my fresh veggie juice in!

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I started my meal with a gazpacho (it was just OK, but I appreciated the generous avocado topping!). And for my entrée, I requested an entrée sized salad with grilled veggies in lieu of the menu’s tuna. The waiter was very gracious, and out came this heaping plate:

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Not bad, eh? Here I am, at work with my camera:

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My verdict on the salad? It was fine. Not awesome, not at all bad, and a nice effort, given that I’d asked the kitchen to modify something for me. You know, I’ll be honest: my instinct since moving has, at least once or twice, to think “not bad…for DC.” Before you tell me how spoiled this instinct is, let me disclaim that I am spoiled: I’ve lived in a vegan diner’s paradise for a while now! It’s hard to adjust to normal restaurants when you’ve had the option of all vegan ones in every neighborhood for every year of your life as a vegan.

But then I remember that a ton of my readers have never had access to vegan restaurants at all—let alone vegan groceries, or even a plethora of fresh produce. Since I became vegan, I’ve had the good fortune to eat at vegan establishments, to find exactly what I want at grocery stores whenever I want it, and to be surrounded by a vibrant community of likeminded eaters. This is a luxury, and a profound one, but I want my readers to know that it’s NOT a necessity. It’s possible to be vegan in a wide variety of circumstances, not all of them perfect. Maybe you’re a college student with no private kitchen space; maybe you’re living in a rural area or a food dessert and you have to drive to get fresh veggies; maybe you’ve never had vegan food before, and you’re not sure how to make it yourself; maybe you’re facing the antagonism of family, friends, and community.

Those circumstances demand stores of commitment and strength that I’ve never had to muster up in my own life as a vegan. But I like to think that I would, if I needed to. In the meantime I can only hope that I show you how to overcome some of these scenarios by sharing vegan and raw food that’s simple, usually affordable, appealing to mainstream eaters, and health-boosting, so that you keep wanting to make it. I also hope that my new hurry up vegan posts will help to show you how to use some common pantry items to make meals quickly and cheaply.

After our sparkling lunch, Kathy and I enjoyed some of the local color:

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Ms. Kathy is yet another friend who has helped welcome me to the fair nation’s capitol. What a fun lunch date!

You can consider this post a preview for a fun project Kathy and I have been cooking up (literally) together. More on that soon, but I’ll give you a hint: those of you who have asked me will finally get a chance to see me on camera!

With that, dear readers, let Saturday night begin. I’m back tomorrow with a list of my top recipes for the 4th of July!

xo

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    19 Comments
  1. Great post!! Living in the “burbs” of DC, I totally get the blue blooded feel of DC, lack of vegan of veg eats, I am a professional menu modifier, ha, and for me the lack of friends who get it…often saying “you pick where we eat you are the picky one.”

  2. You look so happy and I love the blouse you’re wearing! Suits you so well; so pretty 🙂

  3. What a fun lunch and you two are so cute! So true about the difficulties of being a vegan, the restaurant we stepped into last night had no vegan options on their limited menu and it was gutsy for me to request something completely off the menu and worry about offending the chef.

  4. Yay! Ah, we ARE such a cute couple. ha. This is super sweet and I always have a blast hanging out with you Gena! Many more “DC Ladies lunches” to come 🙂 xoxo

  5. I hear you on the being spoiled by NYC piece – vegan or otherwise, I can get my hands on pretty much any food at any hour of the day. times that I’ve travelled to other cities and this isn’t an option, I feel somewhat cheated. then I must remind myself that not every city is like new York in that sense. I like your comparison between georgetown and the UES – likable kind of stuffy and cutesy. ha.

  6. That does look like fun. Gorgeous photos. I know what you mean about Georgetown not having a convenient metro stop. I tend to drive to the metro and use it to get around DC (my city driving skills are terrible). I’ve taken the VERY long walk from the nearest metro station to Georgetown multiple times. It’s not too bad when the weather is nice.

  7. i am so grateful for this post! it’s been awhile since anyone has been able to fluster me with regard to my veganism but it happened yesterday. i live in the south and i work at a restaurant with severed animal heads hanging on the wall. so i’m used to it. and i’m tough. but a new employee was asking me the usual questions and something about the way she scrunched up her nose and said, “oh how sad. i just enjoy food too much” made me so mad. she pitied me and i wanted to punch her! sheesh. anyway, thanks for reminding me that i’m NOT the oddball.

  8. i realized the same thing in europe – how lucky i have been to live in places where vegan options arent even a hassle to find. how fortunate ive been in nyc and now la… after having to order a ham and cheese sandwich, only to remove the ham and cheese, to get a plain baguette…well, lets just say i will never take it for granted again.

  9. Another great post! You’re so right- often when I find myself complaining about circumstances (food and non food related) that don’t meet my standards, I turn to being thankful for what I DO have instead of looking at what I don’t. I may not have this or that, but there’s people out there who have it way worse than I do and would kill for my circumstances. 🙂
    Can’t wait to see you on film!

  10. I know just what it is like to live in a non-vegan friendly city. It isn’t the easiest thing, but it is doable! You just have to be determined, scope out good grocery stores, and support over the interweb! Like this site! People like Gena always gave me the motivation and support when I felt like things were tough or that I was all alone.

  11. Living in a place where the word “vegan” elicits scrunched up noses, you are right – the meal isn’t always perfect. I place a much higher importance now on the company and conversation as a result. A great meal out is just a wonderful bonus. The upside of this is having a greater focus on dinner parties and potlucks with those who share the vegan lifestyle, or are at least curious and open enough to explore it for an evening.

  12. Ooh, I’m looking forward to hearing your voice!

    Yes, it sounds like NY was a vegan’s paradise, and yes, you can do it anywhere. Produce is so expensive and sometimes so shockingly poor quality up here at the end of the road in AK, but I have no trouble being vegan up here (even though I don’t choose to use that title for myself, I haven’t eaten animal products for a very long time). On the other hand, given the price and quality of produce, as well as the cold climate here, I _have_ slowly been coming to the conclusion that it’s just fine that I’m not eating 100% raw at the moment (I’d been thinking of going back to 100%, but am concluding I should wait until I live somewhere more conducive, will write about this soon).

    love
    Ela

  13. I do, indeed, love seeing how elated you are upon having your fresh veggie juice before you! And yes, there are a heap of us out here who can only dream of the glorious vegan restaurants you have access to – but it’s almost as nice just to know, and see, that they exist via your blog!

  14. Gena, I *almost* went to Georgetown. I had some scholarship (according to my dad though, not enough! haha!) but I remember even touring the campus as a h.s. student that the transportation situation was chaos. Too bad that not much has changed and everything is a 45 min effort..or more.

    “let me disclaim that I am spoiled: I’ve lived in a vegan diner’s paradise for a while now! It’s hard to adjust to normal restaurants when you’ve had the option of all vegan ones in every neighborhood for every year of your life as a vegan. “–

    At least you realize this!

    And if nothing else, will make you appreciate your time retrospectively in NYC even more.

    AND in the future, going forward, where ever you do live, if it’s back to NYC, you will really appreciate the vegan options that present themselves even more and if it’s elsewhere you also know you CAN “make it as a vegan” anywhere.

    I liked that you said this “This is a luxury, and a profound one, but I want my readers to know that it’s NOT a necessity. It’s possible to be vegan in a wide variety of circumstances, not all of them perfect. ”

    Happy 4th!

    And so happy you have your luncheon time w/ Kathy!
    🙂

  15. I am enjoying your posts even more since you’ve moved! My sister is a Marine stationed in Quantico, and every time I visit her we explore DC. So your pictures of DC remind me of my very cherished twin time. 🙂

  16. I LOVE visiting Georgetown! Although, I have to say my favorite part of DC is old town Alexandria. But the last time I was there, I wasn’t very concerned with being healthy.
    If you ever travel through West Virginia, hit me up and I’ll show you some fun local color we have here! We actually have a pretty good variety of healthy eating establishments available. 🙂
    Love the pictures! DC certainly is beautiful!

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