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December 26, 2011


When you get there I hope you like their food better than I did! Vegan food can be wonderful but I found this chain's selections somewhat stodgy. And I did not appreciate the completely underdone (read rock hard) baked potato they served me. But I haven't been to this particular outpost, so fingers crossed that they can actually cook!

There's just something so "gimmicky" about fashioning plant foodstuffs into meat substitutes. And then calling it what it isn't, and all in the name of drumming up business. The only way to wean human beings off of animal protein is to make it unavailable.
As a rule, we in the Western Hemisphere eat far, far more than we actually need to flourish, let alone survive. It's all about energy density. In the same way that there is more energy in gasoline on a volumetric basis than any other viable liquid fuel, there is more protein, vitamins and minerals in animal tissue than there is in any plant source (on a volumetric basis). That is why human dentition is capable of masticating muscle and the hydrochloric acid secreted by the stomach can break it down into basic constituents. Tens of thousands of years ago, this ensured survival when humans ate infrequently.

Now, it's just wretched excess. We are going to have a hard time getting over the post-WWII giddiness of the land of plenty when shiny gas-guzzling V8 cars gathered at McDonalds so the passengers could feast on organically raised beef and potatoes deep fried in beef tallow, washed down with caffeinated, carbonated beverages.

Me - I'm half dead already and I have no intention of trying to adapt to a healthy diet just so I can eke out a few more breaths of air. I eat for taste satisfaction, and animal products are pretty high on my satisfaction index.

When we moved to Salem, we found that Portland was not as vegetarian friendly as one might think. This was 2003. We later found out that food writers were saying the same thing. Food in all categories has gotten much, much better in Portland (receiving national attention), and now I can honestly say that Portland is veg-friendly. However, Portlanders love their meat too. It's a foodie city, so there are many hardcore meat eaters living there. Give Salem a break. On Xmas day, we were served a delicious Vegan plate (including a Wheat Gluten cutlet with pineapple sauce) at Marco Polo in Salem. I'm not sure we would have gotten such an accommodation anywhere

Instead of complaining (so much), how about being a little more balanced and give a shout out to some interesting restaurants in the area (La Capitale, Andaluz, Broken Bread, Venti's, the LifeSource bar!!!!, etc.)

ScanStan, you make some good points. There's some good veggie food in Salem. I praised Venti's and LifeSource in an earlier post, "People and places I like in Salem, Oregon."

I should have mentioned Marco Polo as well. My wife and I eat there often, along with frequenting Venti's at least monthly and the LifeSource Deli several times a week.

But... (I've still got a "but")

What we find missing in Salem is the sort of vegetarian/vegan food that's more common in Portland, and much more common in the Hollywood area, where my daughter and her family live.

We go out to eat in southern California at a nice, but not fancy, vegetarian restaurant and almost always my wife and I say "Wow, there's nothing like this in Salem." It's simply creatively prepared veggie food. Not just fake meat; not just tofu and vegetables -- something else.

I don't have a name for it. Just "something else." Cafe Yumm has it. Sounds like Native Foods has it. I can't think of any place in Salem that has it, though occasionally the creative cooks at LifeSource will have a deli offering that has it. (But then "it" won't appear again for a long time.)

I have to assume that the Salem market won't support that sort of food, or seemingly free enterprise would have supplied it. Which brings me to another mostly unfounded rumor that I didn't mention in this post: that Trader Joe's isn't doing as well as expected.

I say "mostly unfounded" because I don't have solid evidence for this. Just anecdotal, and my own observations of how crowded Trader Joe's is when I go there. I'll never forgive Salem if the store were to close. I doubt that it will, but if that sad event ever came to be it would forever solidify Salem's reputation as "So-Lame."

We found ourselves in Bridgeport Village the other day and it made me think of your post. What struck me about the design of the place was that the developers probably paid some architects big bucks to come in there are design this shopping center to look and feel like a traditional urban streetscape. Narrow two way streets, buildings more than one story high with sidewalks in front with on street parking. Kind of like downtown Salem! In think Salem could offer that same experience downtown if they can get rid of those one way streets.

Curt, I heartily agree. Downtown Salem has so much untapped potential. I'm downtown a lot -- mostly around Court Street between Commercial and LIberty -- and often think, "Man, if only there was more cool stuff to do downtown, and more people around to enjoy that cool stuff."

I love the old buildings, the atmospheric alleys, the brickwork, the large trees. Like you said, the two main one-way streets are especially disruptive to a pedestrian friendly, small town feel. Downtown also needs a central gathering spot.

It'd be great if Courthouse Square was torn down completely and that block made into a public place akin to Pioneer Square in Portland. Some people friendly shops (eating places, coffeehouse, etc); an entertainment area; a gathering area; a kid-play area (fountain?).

I live in California and have eaten many times at various Native Foods locations. Believe me, the food is NOT good. They do not know how to cook. I eat it when I have to because I am a die-hard vegan. But when I return from Portland, and we stop at Native Foods on the way home from the airport in Orange County, CA, I cannot even take a second bite. It is horrible, compared to the delicious vegan choices in Portland. Don't make the trip to this place....it is not worth it. (The founder of this restaurant is very nice but not a good chef; just happened to get in on the vegan movement at the right time for this chain to grow.)

We just went today for the first time and loved everything! Both my brothers family and mine went there, we're a mix of vegetarians, vegans, and a few omnivores, and we LOVED everything! The servers, the atmosphere, the food, the beverages, all wonderful! Please come to Salem!!!

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