I always struggle when I try to impress people with vegan food. One the one hand, I feel that the foods I make best are those that allow quality wholefood ingredients to shine, those that are visually appealing and full of colour and texture. On the other hand, I feel pressured not to offer up the stereotypical health food that is associated with a plant-based diet, and to replicate creamy comfort foods that one would think could never be vegan.
So today’s MoFo prompt – “OMG, Barack Obama is coming to visit because he heard you make awesome vegan food! What are you going to make?” – had me about as stumped as if I had actually been told that POTUS had just gotten off the bus and was Google Mapping his way to our little one-bed flat.
I get easily overwhelmed when confronted with a multitude of tasks, so generally when I plan to make food for anyone I set the bar low and aim to make one one-pot dish that is reliably forgiving should I get carried away vacuuming before the guests arrive. Then, because while it is simmering or cooling or doing whatever it needed to do unattended, I realise I can’t just serve up one one-pot meal so I cobble together a bunch of healthy-ish side. It always turns out well, but I always feel a little guilty for not setting out to make something more grand.
However, maybe I just tell myself this to make myself feel better, but I do think that dishing up a meal “family style” with multiple components and sides laid out for all to serve themselves as they please produces a more convivial eating atmosphere. Guests can avoid dishes they don’t enjoy, are not under pressure to eat a certain amount, can go back for more of what they do like, and the host can relax if a dish hasn’t gone so well and can’t be served, and doesn’t need to stress about asking if anyone wants seconds.
I feel like a meal with one of the most powerful humans in the world could do with being a bit more relaxed, so I’m gonna go with that.
Although the president’s favourite food generally has to be whatever he has been given by people who want something from him (usually animal-based because lobbies), Barack Obama’s favourite eateries are reportedly a local pizzeria serving up thin-crust pizza, and an award-winning Mexican eatery. I sure as hell won’t be serving the President of the United States anything vaguely Mexican given that I have never eaten authentic Mexican food, and even though I prefer my pizza crust puffy and chewy, it usually turns out almost painfully dense and mealy when I make it, so now is probably not the time to experiment further.
Thankfully, perhaps in response to the pressure to promote healthy eating and the likes, there is extensive coverage of all the healthy foods the president likes to eat. Luckily, that is where I think my culinary skills shine (or, more appropriately, where my culinary activities become skills)! I think Barack and I are gonna get along just fine.
Starters are a bit tedious in a home setting, so we’ll just do nibbles. Some pistachios (in the shell because they’re fun), sun-dried tomatoes and olives, hummus and veggie sticks. I don’t know if the president drinks alcohol, but I don’t and wouldn’t even know what to offer, but I do know he likes a particular black forest berry tea drink, so I’ll go ahead and brew up a fresh fruit-filled pitcher of iced Very Berry Fruitea, and maybe also the delicious Peaches & Cream tea flavour we have at home but that I can’t find online.
Now for a main I’d love to serve Barack Obama our mango tofu curry as it is fit for a king or, indeed, a president… but the guy’s eaten curry in India so I’m not sure I’m going to top that. But we’re keeping this casual after all, so I’ll throw together a few simple things:
- spinach salad with strawberries, avocado, roast chickpeas, and a balsamic vinaigrette
- the Italian sausages from Vegan Brunch
- a tonne of grilled tofu and veggies including broccoli (because it’s his fave) and aubergine (because it’s my fave)
- quinoa salad with sun-dried tomatoes, roast sweet potato, green peas, and a tahini dressing
That’ll probably do us for savoury items, and if Barack is coming because he has heard about our awesome vegan food then he will definitely be expecting Ben’s cookies. So we’ll definitely have to serve him up:
- snickerdoodles from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar because they are simply the best, and maybe also the Mexican chocolate variety because I hear POTUS likes his food spicy and mainly because they are super delicious
- some sort of mini raw cheesecakes, because they’re rich and creamy and they look so pretty
- little pots of Kathy Patalsky’s vanilla custard because clearly I’m obsessed and I bet they’d be amaaazing to dip the Mexican chocolate snickerdoodles into
- and a big platter of fresh fruit for colour and vitamins!
We’d finish with teas or coffee, good quality dates, and a box of Booja-Booja truffles for elegance and deliciousness.
Why did I pick this menu? Because it’s literally all of my favourite things. And if the President of the United States isn’t somebody you serve all of your favourite things to, then who can you serve all your favourite things to? Plus, if he hates it, I have heaps of delicious leftovers!