Yesterday the Prick went and got in all sorts of trouble because he went and, in the middle of an otherwise perfectly innocuous restaurant post, hanged shit on The Smiths, a band whose many fans apparently form a very tight Venn diagram with the somewhat less legion readers of this site. Honestly, it was just a throw-away line to set up an animal-titty joke, but the Prick has learnt that there are certain third rails not to be touched.
So while the man may have said never apologise, never explain, today’s target shall nonetheless be a safer one. Vegetarians, to be precise, and a Melbourne-based fast-food chain called “Lord of the Fries” to be more so.
Now in all honesty the Prick has nothing against vegetarians and even married one first time around (laugh if you must, but then you’ll never find out the secret to getting the best flavour out of a mushroom).
As the business’s name suggests their fries are said to be lovely, despite not being triple-fried in duck fat. Even dedicated carnivores seem to vouch for them. Well, great. Half your luck, but that’s not the issue.
The issue the Prick has is with the whole ersatz-meat thing and their menu being full of things like “chick’n” patties and “veg bacon” and alleged “hot dogs” (the fillings of which are admittedly mysterious at the best of times).
Mrs Prick generally does the law-talkin’ around here but the whole concept seems to sail close to the winds of Section 52 of the Trade Practices Act – the bit which deals with misleading or deceptive conduct. While not accusing anyone of misconduct, it does feel as though plastering signs up all over one’s shop advertising the best burgers in the universe or words to that effect (when burgers are popularly understood to be made of meat) and then not letting the uninitiated in on the joke until they’ve reached the front of the queue isn’t completely kosher.
The Prick walked by the new LOTF on George Street today – they’ve just made their first inroad into Sydney from their Melbourne base – and there was a helluva crowd of people trying to get a feed. It looked like a scene out of Moscow circa 1982, or the Bourke Street Bakery in 2013 (and really, we won the Cold War so we could line up for bread!?).
How many of these punters were lured in by signs promising fantastic burgers, only to be told their only option was hippy food?
Or worse, went away with a “chick’n” burger thinking the spelling was just sort of cutesy-poo illiterate, a la America’s infamous Chick-fil-A, only to realise they’d become the victims of gastronomic evangelists?
It is a debate the Prick has had a few times, but the crux of the issue comes down to this: If you like a burger, have a damn burger. Don’t try and make a pale imitation of a burger, tell us all how great it is, and climb up on a high horse about it. This is why the Prick won’t be visiting, even just for fries, anytime soon.
And if you don’t want to eat meat for whatever reason, fine. The Prick can respect that. But if that is your thing, own it: After all, what about all these wonderful, diverse, flavourful and nutritious vegetarian and vegan recipes we keep hearing about? The best meatless dishes in town make no apologies for themselves.
Because while we regularly see people trying to come up with imitation meat products, it is pretty rare that – outside the labs of clever clogs like Heston Blumenthal – we ever see anyone trying to do an imitation vegetable. There is apparently a vegan “butcher” in Newtown which again works on the same imitation-meat principles as Lord of the Fries and which even sells imitation egg yolks like something of a chow-line joke on M*A*S*H but this time as a status symbol and signalling device.
Yet you’ll never see a carnivorous fruit-and-veg stand with apples that are really bacon (dear God there’s an idea) or potatoes that are really veal.
This suggests which direction the tide is really running on this issue and who really wants more of what the other has got. Without mixing metaphors too atrociously, it would seem that the grass is greener on the grass-fed side of the fence.
If there are any readers left by the end of this, maybe I can promise a nice, innocuous polenta recipe on the weekend? Maybe even with that little mushroom trick.