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Part I: Camille DeAngelis, Bones & All
Camille DeAngelis is the author of Bones & All, Mary Modern, and Petty Magic. She is a certified vegan lifestyle coach and educator, and is currently veganizing an 18th-century Scottish cookbook. Camille lives in Boston, and you can find her on the web at www.cometparty.com.
Part II: Alan Roettinger, Almond Milk Cookbook
Alan Roettinger is a writer, food designer, blogger, and public speaker. He has served clients as a private chef in the United States, Europe, and Australia. Raised in Mexico City, he acquired a taste for exotic food early on and soon developed a passion for flavor and beauty that drives his diverse, creative culinary style. Alan is passionate about empowering people to make smart choices in what they eat, and to enjoy eating well at home. His cookbooks, Omega-3 Cuisine, Speed Vegan, Extraordinary Vegan and Paleo Vegan showcase his ability to bring health and pleasure together in a wide range of dishes that are simultaneously sophisticated and accessible for the home cook.
TRANSCRIPTION PART I:
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody! I’m Caryn Hartglass. It’s time for It’s All About Food. Thank you for joining me today. I have to tell you, I just had an incredible lunch, and the flavors are still swimming around in my mouth. I love that, when you can continue to enjoy something even after you’ve finished it. So, do you want to know what it was? We had, last night, a new pesto sauce made with sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts. And it’s really yummy, and we had it last night. And I got leftovers for lunch, which is great. And you can get the recipe because I want to share it, it’s so good — at ResponsibleLivingAndEating.com. Just go there right now, and you can grab it. You can see some pictures. It’s right there on the home page. And there’s a bunch of other recipes we added this week; I’ll tell you about them, maybe, if you’re lucky, a little later.
And you know this show: it’s called It’s All About Food, we talk about food, whether it’s healthy food or not-so-healthy food.
Camille DeAngelis: [Laughs]
Caryn Hartglass: [Laughs] You know what I’m leading up to, Camille. [Both laugh.] That’s my guest, who’s losing it before I introduce her. Well, anyway, here we go. So I have Camille DeAngelis on with me today, and she’s the author of a new book called Bones & All. She’s also the author of Mary Modern and Petty Magic. She’s a certified vegan lifestyle coach and educator, and is currently veganizing an eighteenth-century Scottish cookbook. She lives in Boston and you can find her on the web at cometparty.com. Okay, so, hi, and how are you doing, Camille?
Camille DeAngelis: I’m great, Caryn, how are you?
Caryn Hartglass: Great.
Camille DeAngelis: Thanks so much for having me.
Caryn Hartglass: You’re welcome. So, before you interrupted me [laughs] —
Camille DeAngelis: I’m sorry. [laughs]
Caryn Hartglass: — with your lovely laughter, I was talking about how we talk about all kinds of food on this show, and some things I don’t even consider food or animal foods. I haven’t eaten meat in decades. But one of the things we’re going to talk about, based on your fictional book, is eating humans — humans eating humans; “cannibalism,” some people call it. You just call it being an “Eater.”
Camille DeAngelis: Yeah, yeah. And the point of the book is that flesh is not food. It’s not. It’s not food. A lot of people eat it; it is what we have been indoctrinated to believe is food, after thousands of years we’ve been eating it. That doesn’t make it right; that doesn’t make it ethical; that doesn’t make it fair to the animals and to the planet.
Caryn Hartglass: You’re reminding me of the movie Finding Nemo, which seems to be playing a lot lately on television, on one of the stations. We’ve seen it a few times over and over because we like it. But my favorite line in it is, “Fish are your friends, not food.”
Camille DeAngelis: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: And you can continue that and say, “Any flesh, or any kind, is not food.”
Camille DeAngelis: Mm-hmm.
Caryn Hartglass: Even human flesh! [Laughs]
Camille DeAngelis: Yeah. The thing that I keep, the thing that keeps coming into my head, is that bit in The China Study where T. Colin Campbell is talking about how flesh is actually the most easily assimilated protein, so he’s like, “If you want the most efficient protein, you should eat human flesh! Except, no, don’t do that. Why would you do that?” But that really…I mean, obviously, I was already a vegan when I read his book, but I was like, “Wow, you know, you can take it to a logical extreme that is completely insane.” But what is also insane is eating any other kind of animal protein, I think.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so that was going to be my first question, which you’ve answered already, which is, “Was there a message in this book that you wrote?”
Camille DeAngelis: Yeah, yeah. So I wrote this book to get people thinking about flesh-eating, and to get people thinking about themselves as predators. Because it’s not something that you’re cognizant of, that you’re conscious of, as you’re just mindlessly ordering your lunch from Chick Fil-A. Not everybody is having sunflower pesto for lunch, unfortunately — sounds delicious. So yeah, I wanted to get people thinking about, this is predatory. And it was really shocking to me when I first put two and two together in that way. And like I said I had already gone vegan, and had been vegetarian for many years before that, but that was a real, shocking little epiphany for me to have as I was revising the book. Because initially — I’m a fiction writer. I don’t want to be pounding somebody over the head with the message. I want to get them with a really good story. The story has to come first. So initially, when I had this idea, of writing about this sixteen-year-old girl who basically eats everyone, gobbles them up like an ogre in a fairytale, I got this idea and it was hilarious to me. Because it’s like, “Oh, I’m a vegan, and I have this ridiculous idea about a cannibal.”
Caryn Hartglass: [Laughs]
Camille DeAngelis: And so, I actually have a funny story — I was like, “Oh, I can’t take this seriously,” right. But I was actually at Dirt Candy with a couple of friends, one of whom is also a longtime vegetarian. And when I told her this idea, over this delicious vegan meal, she just started giggling uncontrollably. And she was like, “I think you need to write this.” So I started writing it, thinking, “Oh, this is just this hilarious paradox.” Then as I started revising it — actually as I was revising it, I was working on the different reading assignments for Victoria Moran’s Main Street Vegan Academy, which is how I got my certification as a vegan lifestyle coach and educator. So I’m reading China Study as I’m revising the book, and I was also reading Victoria’s books, and I read John Robbins’ books, and I read The World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle. So all of these books, reading these wonderful, enlightening books made me realize: I can reach people with this book. This book is much bigger than me just telling a story to entertain you.
So it became this book that I was hoping to have this message at the end, have people thinking as they look at my bio and they see that I’m a vegan, they’re like, “Oh, that’s funny.” Now they’re reading the book, hopefully they’re really into the book, and then at the end, in the Acknowledgments, I just lay it all out there. I’m like, “this book is about flesh-eating.” And so hopefully, it just gets you thinking about it. A lot of people aren’t like….When I had my vegan epiphany, it was just “boom.” I didn’t do Meatless Mondays; I didn’t do any of that stuff. It was just like, “this is the right way to live my life.” And so I just, there were no more animal products after that. And that was over four years ago, and this has been the happiest four years of my life, and the most fulfilling four years of my life, and the most prolific, also. So I’m actually really interested in talking to people about how going vegan can make you more creative. I’ve actually written about that on Victoria’s blog.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s great. Because you’re clear; you’re clearer now. You’re not covered up with all kinds of crud and pus and flack. You’re clear; your brain’s clear.
Camille DeAngelis: Yeah, exactly.
Caryn Hartglass: And it’s fueled. So I wanted to say, I think that more and more people are learning that meat, or at least a lot of meat, isn’t healthy, and that we really should consume a diet that is plant-centered. But we’ve known for a long time that eating other humans is really not good for us. But I think it’s funny that we’re learning that eating other animals isn’t good for us, either. It’s just gonna take time. But it’s very similar.
Camille DeAngelis: Yeah. I think it’s going to be a really slow sort of unlearning and relearning process for a lot of people. But actually, I went to Vegan Drinks—I know you guys have that in New York, and we have a meet-up here in Boston once a month. And I met this guy who had a really interesting prediction, who went to last month’s meet-up. He said, “In about ten years, I think we’re going to reach critical mass. We’re going to have enough vegans, and enough people who are vocal—not in a militant way, but in a loving, ‘This is the truth,’ kind of way.” Which is what I’m aiming for: I don’t want to hitting people over the head with my truth, because that’s not actually going to do anybody any good. I went to a couple of barbecues yesterday, and of all of the people I was with, I was the only vegan there. And I was just quietly eating my veggie burger and my roasted portabella mushroom and salad, and roasted asparagus and potatoes, and it was delicious. And I was just quietly being who I am, and people can follow this example when they’re ready.
Caryn Hartglass: And nobody was asking you about what you were eating?
Camille DeAngelis: I was really surprised. I’d never met any of these people ever before, this was totally new, and so I was a little bit nervous about it. But everybody was just totally accepting of it; it was totally fine. I actually encountered more people hassling about it back when I was just a vegetarian. People took it as an affront. And it wasn’t even necessarily food that they had prepared, so it wasn’t like your Great Aunt Gertrude or whatever saying, “You don’t want to eat the food that I’m trying to nourish you with?” It wasn’t even that. It’s just like, I would be out somewhere, and people have this—they see it as an implicit judgment. I just want to sit and have my meal and we can have a conversation about anything you want to talk about. But it’s been actually totally fine. All you can do is just quietly eat whatever you want to eat, eating whatever you feel is right to eat, what is fair and ethical and honest and compassionate. You just want people to take the time that they need to get onboard with it.
So I went off on a tangent here, but this guy that I was with was saying, in ten years he thinks that we’re going to reach critical mass; it’s going to become a totally mainstream lifestyle choice. And when it totally hits the mainstream—it’s already happening. It’s never been easier to be vegan. And I think how blasé all these meat-eaters were at these two barbecues that I went to yesterday really just goes to show how far we’ve come in the last ten years. It’s becoming more mainstream. But it will come to the point where everyone will see it as a mainstream lifestyle choice.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, I hope that happens. I can’t wait. Ten years is not soon enough, and I hope it happens.
Camille DeAngelis: I know, I know, I know.
Caryn Hartglass: But let’s talk a little bit more about your book, Bones & All. I have a few more questions and comments. So one of the things is the main character, Maren, who’s sixteen years old, like you said. In any good story, you want to like the character, the lead character, and go along. And she’s definitely very likable. And it’s funny, because there definitely is the “ick” factor of her being an Eater and eating humans—but you’re reading about her and you understand her issues, and her insecurities, and her fears, and her relationships, and you want her to succeed. Even though she’s eating humans. [Laughs]
Camille DeAngelis: Yeah. I’m so glad that you felt that way, because I really wanted her to be identifiable. And a lot of it is the ordinary teen angst, just amplified times, I don’t know, twenty?Two hundred? Yeah, so, she’s a very isolated teen—in part, obviously, because of the thing that she does. And so her mother, every time she does the “bad thing,” as she calls it, her mother just whisks her away to another town and another state and they just start all over again. This is all in the first couple pages, so I’m not giving anything away to your listeners. But she also has to go out on her own, and that’s when she….And she still really doesn’t want to do the bad thing. But she’s on her own, completely alone in the world. And she’s just trying to make peace with who she is, or she’s trying to not be who she is. And then…Yeah, it’s kind of everything that we’re all trying to do. I was thinking the other day about personality integration, and this fits in with veganism perfectly. You want to think about yourself as a caring, compassionate person, but you have to look at every single aspect of your life, and are you behaving compassionately in all of those sectors? Not just how you treat other humans.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, I have a question about another character in the book. His name is Sully, and I’m not going to say anything more about him except that he’s an older man. But I was wondering what was behind your choice, what was behind him, in that he was also an Eater and he didn’t decide to consume Maren right away. He was kind of following her around. What was behind that.
Camille DeAngelis: Well, I’m trying to think of a way to talk about him that isn’t spoiler-y.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, okay, well then you can tell me off-line sometime. [Laughs] I was just kind of curious about that.
Camille DeAngelis: Yeah. But he’s definitely playing a cat-and-mouse game with her. She doesn’t realize it at first.
Caryn Hartglass: A cat-and-mouse game, okay.
Camille DeAngelis: Yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: So I was heading towards the end and I was hoping that there would be this redemption somehow. Like, I mentioned Finding Nemo before, and how the sharks in Finding Nemo decide they want to be vegetarian, and they’re struggling. Or like in the Twilight movies—the good vampires aren’t sucking blood from people, they’re getting it from animals, unfortunately. [Laughs]
Camille DeAngelis: Blood banks? Oh, animals. I haven’t seen it, and I haven’t read the books.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh. I’ve seen the movies, and they’re horrible. [Laughs]
Camille DeAngelis: [Laughs] I heard they weren’t any good, so that’s why I haven’t read any of the books or seen the movies.
Caryn Hartglass: But I’m wondering, maybe there is going to be a series, and maybe later on, Maren will try to abstain from flesh-eating?
Camille DeAngelis: I have not done a series so far, and when I wrap up the world that I’ve created, and I give the characters their fates, I’m on to the next thing. And I hope that I’ve made my point with this book. And the next thing I do, actually, speaking of the eighteenth-century Scottish cookbook, my little side project, I have a companion project to the main one, which is set in eighteenth-century Edinburgh. And part of the story follows the family of Pythagoreans who have a sort of animal rescue thing going on in their house—they’ll take in injured foxes and things—and they don’t eat animals. Which is actually less of a freakish thing than you would’ve thought, back then. There were a lot of people who were preachers, a lot of preachers who were speaking out against flesh-eating back then. And I guess it was less feasible to abstain from all animal products. But there was definitely a consciousness of it that you might not have expected—I mean, the word “vegetarian” wasn’t coined, as you know, until the mid-19th century, but there were vegetarians back before that word existed.
Caryn Hartglass: There were “Pythagoreans” a long time ago.
Camille DeAngelis: Yes. And I want to write about them. The story is going to be so fun; I can’t wait to write it. But I’m still going to be exploring vegetarianism and veganism in my future fiction, for sure. In a more overt way, which is going to be really fun.
Caryn Hartglass: And do you have some Scottish background in you?
Camille DeAngelis: I don’t, actually. I have some Irish ancestry, but no Scottish. I did actually go, I was really fortunate, to be granted a residency at this place called Hawthornden Castle, outside of Edinburgh. It’s a writer’s retreat, a writer’s colony. So I went there a couple years ago for a month-long residency, and actually revised Bones & All while I was there. But I was collecting a lot of fun historical tidbits from the different books that I had found in there, at the National Library of Scotland. I loved walking around the old city, the old town, and soaking up the atmosphere. Because you can still feel it. There are a lot of places where the city has become so modern that you can’t picture what it was like two or three hundred years ago. But you can picture it very easily in Edinburgh.
Caryn Hartglass: You can picture it in a lot of European towns. That’s what I love about Europe. They build these incredible buildings that have been there for hundreds and hundreds of years. It’s incredible. I love it. And I did love Edinburgh. There was a vegetarian restaurant, or a vegan restaurant I went to in Edinburgh about ten years ago, and I got vegan—what’s the famous Scottish dish?
Camille DeAngelis: Haggis?
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
Camille DeAngelis: Yeah. I’ve had vegan Haggis. It’s really good. I think it’s made with lentils and walnuts?
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t remember; it was a long time ago. But it was good.
Camille DeAngelis: Really good, yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: And I don’t know what the original version tastes like because I’ve been vegetarian a very long time. I have another Maren question, the character in your book. Is she based on anyone? Is there any of you in any of the characters?
Camille DeAngelis: You know, there’s a little piece of me in every character, I think. And that might be sort of a diplomatic answer. But you have to create this person from somewhere. And you have to give them motivations that feel compelling. I mean, yeah, I guess I would say if she’s based on anybody, she’s based on me. Only in the sense that I was a little bit of a loner in high school. I definitely remember feeling isolated, and lonely, and I felt like…I didn’t feel understood. So that was what I drew on when I was fleshing out her character, as it were. So I guess I would say that she’s based on me, but only in that sense.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. So, you’re in Boston. And I know there are some great places for vegan food. Do you have some favorites?
Camille DeAngelis: I do, I do. There’s actually a really great place like a ten-minute walk from me. I live in Somerville, and so there’s a place in Teele Square called True Bistro which does the most delicious brunch. It’s really, really good. We have a couple of really good vegetarian places. I wish they were vegan, but I understand why one of them isn’t. It’s called Veggie Galaxy; it’s at Central Square in Cambridge. They sort of specialize in getting meat-eaters in the door because it’s very 1950s-diner-y kind of thing. And then you look at their menu; it’s full of comfort food. And it’s like heaven for vegans too, because everything, it’s everything vegan. They have omelettes and stuff like that, which as I said I’m not thrilled about. But they have a lot of people who would ordinarily never, ever, ever go to a vegetarian restaurant will go there, and then it starts to feel accessible. And so then they’re more open to it. So I understand why they do that. So I really like that place.
And Live Alive in Central Square in Cambridge as well. And there’s the Walnut Grille in Highlands; that’s really good. Yeah. There’s a place called My Thai downtown, in Chinatown. There’s Cocobeet, which is more of a takeout place. Yeah. I want there to be even more places, you know? That’s why I love coming down to New York, because it’s just like, “Yeah!” Last time I was there, after Victoria’s book launch last week, I went to Blossom.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, that’s where we went. I missed you.
Camille DeAngelis: Oh my gosh! I don’t know how I missed you. That’s so funny. Well, we stayed at the bookstore a long time. Just chatting with all my friends I don’t get to see very often. So, yeah, we’ve got some really good places here; I just wish there were more of them.
Caryn Hartglass: You mentioned omelettes at that one restaurant, and that just triggered a little something. So I just posted a bunch of recipes on my website, ResponsibleLivingAndEating.com, and one of the recipes is this French herbed no-egg omelette. And I don’t know if you’ve ever played with Socca, or garbanzo bean flour, but they make incredible omelettes. And I’m just nuts for them lately. I go through these phases, and I’m in my no-egg omelette phase. And I just had one that was just so good. So one day, in ten years or so, like you said, we’ll be there.
Camille DeAngelis: Yeah, I sure hope that guy is right.
Caryn Hartglass: Now, can you tell me what “comet party” means? Your website is cometparty.com.
Camille DeAngelis: Yeah. So I had been—I’m trying to remember at what point I first heard about the concept of a comet party. So, Halley’s Comet, what was it, 1911, I think—I was just looking through some old newspapers, or maybe it was a history book, and I found these newspaper write-ups about the comet parties that were happening for the comet sighting. I was just like, “Oh my gosh, that is the coolest reason to have a party.” And then I started thinking of it in terms of a metaphor, of being your best and brightest self; celebrating life. The positivity of that—getting together to celebrate something that is so much bigger than you, celebrating this comet. So it sort of became entwined with my veganism because I believe that this is so much bigger than me. What I eat affects a lot of other people besides me. And it affects—
Caryn Hartglass: …a lot of other people…
Camille DeAngelis: …non-human people. It’s funny, because when I say “people” now, I’m also thinking “non-human people.” Because I love the concept of a non-human person. And I was explaining this to somebody who still eats animals, recently. And she was actually more open to it than I thought she would be. So I’m feeling really hopeful about that.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, come on, if legally a corporation can be considered a person, why can’t a non-human animal? I mean, really.
Camille DeAngelis: Right, right.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, I want to mention one last thing before we go. Are you familiar with the musical Sweeney Todd?
Camille DeAngelis: Yes, but I haven’t seen it.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, well, I’ve performed in it a number of times. I think it’s my favorite piece. I’ve played Johanna, the sixteen-year-old unfortunate ward of this evil judge. And when her father comes back to London to get vengeance and find his wife, who’s gone nuts—it’s a complicated story—he hooks up, in his old barber shop, with this woman underneath who has a pie shop. And he wants to get the judge in his shop so he can cut his throat and kill him. So he’s practicing, and he’s practicing on other people, lonely people. And then they have to decide what to do with the bodies, so they end up—since it’s London in the Industrial Age and people are poor, and meat is hard to find, they end up cutting the bodies and putting them into meat pies. And the pie-maker’s business is flourishing; nobody knows, of course. [Laughs] But when the pie-maker first suggests to the barber that this is what they can do, they sing a duet. And it’s called “Have a Little Priest.” And she talks about the different kinds of people, and how they might taste. It’s quite comic; it’s really fun. And I just want to play that at the end of this segment. So I just wanted you to know what it’s going to be about. And it’s just—the segment we’re going to play is just the last bit of the song. You’re not going to hear most of it. But it’s a recording that I have—me, and my partner Gary, and we’re called the Swinging Gourmets, and I wanted to end with that.
So, Camille, I want to thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food.
Camille DeAngelis: Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: And thank you for this enjoyable read, Bones & All. I look forward to seeing more of you at more big veg events here and there.
Camille DeAngelis: Yeah. Thank you so much, Caryn. I had a great time.
Caryn Hartglass: So I’m going to say good-bye, and then we’ll hear the end of “Have a Little Priest.”[Recording plays of “Have a Little Priest”]:
Have charity towards the world, my pet.
Yes, yes, I know, my love.
We’ll take the customers that we can get.
High-born and low, my love.
We’ll not discriminate great from small; no, we’ll serve anyone; meaning anyone; and to anyone at all.
Transcribed by Chelsea Davis, 9/2/2105
Transcription Part II:
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody, I am Caryn Hartglass and we are back for the second part of today’s It’s All About Food show. What did you think of the first part? Cannibalism is kind of a fun concept, isn’t it? Anyways, if you have some thoughts let me know at info it realmeals.org. You know how I always love to get your reaction on some of the things going on in this program. All right, now this is going to be fun because I am going to bring on a dear old friend, someone who I’ve never met but I feel close to. Alan Roettinger now has a new cookbook we are going to be talking about, The Almond Milk Cookbook. He is a writer, food designer, blogger, and public speaker. He has served clients as a private chef in the US, Europe, and Australia. Raised in Mexico City, he has acquired a taste for exotic food early on and soon developed a passion for flavor and beauty that drives his diverse creative culinary style. He is passionate about empowering people to make smart choices in what they eat and to enjoy eating well at home. We have talked about some of his other cookbooks on this show; Speed Vegan, Extraordinary Vegan, and Paleo Vegan, which showcases his ability to bring health and pleasure together in a wide range of dishes that are simultaneous, sophisticated, and accessible for the home cook. Alan, my friend, welcome!
Alan Roettinger: My dear, how are you?
Caryn Hartglass: Good! Virtual hugs back to you.
Alan Roettinger: I love the way you read my bio, can you be my herald from now on?
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, I am a voice over artist and I can do just about anything because I am plant powered!
Alan Roettinger: Unstoppable!
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, extraordinary vegans we are!
Alan Roettinger: Ah, indeed!
Caryn Hartglass: Yes. Anyway, well the question is Alan, why have you been avoiding me?!
Alan Roettinger: I have not been avoiding you!
Caryn Hartglass: How come you haven’t made me a meal?
Alan Roettinger: Oh I just haven’t been in the same place at the same time. That is the only reason I assure you!
Caryn Hartglass: I mean it’s been years now, really!
Alan Roettinger: I know people are going to start talking about us.
Caryn Hartglass: Anyway, Alan used to join me from time to time when I did the Ask Vegan Show which I still have episodes archived on the Responsible Eating and Living website. There’s lots of good information on those programs. You’ve also been on the show. You know I haven’t counted, and I probably should, but just like Dave Letterman counts or on Saturday Night Live, the guests who count how many times they’ve been on the program. You’re probably one who’s been on more often than most.
Alan Roettinger: I have something on David Letterman. He’s off the air and I’m on the air!
Caryn Hartglass: Ha-ha okay, very good! Now let’s get to the matter of hand which is almond milk! Now one of the nice things about your cook books is they tend to be small and digestible. Not overwhelming.
Alan Roettinger: You haven’t been eating my books, have you?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, well we were just talking to Camille DeAngelis who was talking about eating people, human people. So, you know anything goes here. It’s fiction, but it’s fun fiction.
Alan Roettinger: Way to get the podcast on that one.
Caryn Hartglass: So the first thing that I loved in this cookbook was pretty much the first page of text where you talked about almonds in history. Can we get a voice over on that? Almonds in history! I needed a little more re-verb but that’ll do! Fascinating, can you tell us a little bit about almonds in history?
Alan Roettinger: Well you know I did a little research because I’ve just been eating almonds. I haven’t really been paying too much attention to their history and it turns out that in the Middle Ages almond milk was far more ubiquitous in cooking than dairy milk.
Caryn Hartglass: Ubiquitous is a big word for us here!
Alan Roettinger: Oh you know, like everywhere.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, yes!
Alan Roettinger: Except you know, not like divine but you know like pretty much every kitchen. Every single Middle Ages cook knew how to make almond milk and made it as a routine everyday because dairy milk was expensive. You had to have a cow, which you had to buy a cow, and you had to feed the cow. You had to make sure the cow didn’t get sick and die and this was something that landowners had. This is something that, you know, even the small farmers, many of them were kind of owned by somebody who had a castle and they just were there for their benefit. They didn’t actually own the land, they didn’t actually own their cattle or whatever, they just took care of it. So in order to have dairy milk you had to be rich and you had to be stationary, you couldn’t be wandering around. So, almonds of course are totally transportable and you can make almond milk on the spot and use it right away or you can leave it for a day and nothing is going to happen to it, whereas dairy milk, you leave it for an afternoon and it’s spoiled.
Caryn Hartglass: Right!
Alan Roettinger: So almond milk was what they used for all their recipes and I didn’t know that! It’s kind of exciting, actually!
Caryn Hartglass: It is exciting and I love the point that you mentioned. Not only is dairy milk very perishable but the fact that you can hang on to almonds in their shell for an indefinite period of time, if they’re stored in a cool dry place. You can have milk anytime you wanted, it’s ready as soon as you soak and blend up those almonds, done! No refrigeration!
Alan Roettinger: And in those days they didn’t even soak them. They just ground them and then mixed them with water, sometimes hot water.
Caryn Hartglass: How did they grind them because they didn’t have Vitamixers?
Alan Roettinger: No, they had the old fashioned Vitamix!
Caryn Hartglass: A mortar and pestle or something!
Alan Roettinger: Stone on stone with almond in the middle! Yes, they used to have very large mortars because they used to do a lot of grinding, like nuts and seeds and everything I mean they didn’t have grinders. Well, their kitchens didn’t anyway.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay maybe that’s a great start up concept for somebody in Brooklyn or Chicago, to get one of these giant solar powered mortar and pestles to ground the nuts and seeds.
Alan Roettinger: Well, muscle power, that’s what they used! They didn’t have solar! They were just sitting there pounding in a little hole and ‘bam! Bam! Bam!’ until it was powder. They had a lot of people hanging around the kitchen with nothing to do except “tell me what to do” and then they’d give it to them to like little scullery maids and those kinds of people.
Caryn Hartglass: Right and you have the little paleo background because you had done that book with Ellen Jaffe Jones on vegan paleo and this almond milk also fits in the paleo scene because they don’t believe in dairy either.
Alan Roettinger: Yeah, I mean it goes back to the very early days of cuisine when people just got a rock and mashed a leaf up with it and then rubbed it in something and put it together with something and made a little marinade or something to make something taste a little better. It goes right back to those old days when they were just grinding things up and trying to make something taste good.
Caryn Hartglass: So it’s natural!
Alan Roettinger: Yeah, totally.
Caryn Hartglass: Whatever natural means. Now, almonds are also good for us. Some people talk about how the packaged forms of almond milk, the kinds you get in the grocery store, are just kind of like sugary water or something that doesn’t have much nutritional value. Making almond milk our self is- there is nothing wrong with it, it’s only good!
Alan Roettinger: Right, I mean what they sell in the store is kind of intended just to replace milk as an ingredient, like to put in your tea or to put in your cereal or stuff that you would normally use dairy milk for. People are making the transition. It’s something a little healthier. It gives them a quick and easy way to do that. It’s not really meant for nutrition. I mean there is a little calcium they add to it and there’s some that’s existing in the almond but if you make your own almond milk- like when I make ice cream or if I’m using it in a soup or sauce where I want it really creamy, I do two cups of almonds to four cups of water. Now in the stuff that you get in the store, it’s more like a tablespoon of almonds to four cups of water.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, with a lot of-
Alan Roettinger: and they make it thick with thickeners and they make it stay, you know, milky with they call it emulsifiers and stuff. You don’t need to do that if you’re making your own. The only caveat is that you have to use it within a few days because it’s fresh and it will eventually spoil after a few days.
Caryn Hartglass: and that’s where I want to say; you buy food and then you have to eat it, or you make something and then you have to eat it and that’s the way it works successfully.
Alan Roettinger: Back in the old days, they didn’t even wait, you know. In the paleo period, I mean you want to go back, they just grabbed it off the bushes and ate it and maybe they’ll find some that they could stick in their little pouch, but that’s what they would eat for dinner. There was no next day three days from now, next month, it never happened.
Caryn Hartglass: But we have a terrible situation with wasting a lot of food in this country. People buy food and it just goes bad in the refrigerator. They don’t eat it.
Alan Roettinger: That’s the head story but that’s not even half of it because my son works at whole foods and he tells me that they have to throw food that is expired even though it’s still perfectly good, it just has a date on it that says times up. They have to get rid of it. It goes back to the manufacturer and the manufacturer has to eat it and that’s food, they have to eat the cost. Then there’s actual fresh food from the case, from the little grazing area and they have to throw that away too. They can’t give it to anyone, even the employees. They can not even give it to the employees.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s the crazy part, how they can’t give it to anyone because a lot of the stuff is really good. That’s where the freegans and dumpster divers come in to save the day, not that that’s something that I entirely encourage but I did-
Alan Roettinger: Certainly a lifestyle you want to emulate.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, you know I have some friends that are serious dumpster divers. It’s almost too easy to do in Manhattan, unfortunately, and there’s so much good food that’s put on the street. A lot of it is packaged and clean, it’s just crazy. I did go on a few dumpster diving adventures about ten years ago. I learned a lot. I was horrified and I don’t think it’s changed very much since then. We need to figure that out. That’s a piece of the food system equation that’s very broken. But anyway, let’s get back to almonds because that’s the happy story. La La La!! Now, you have recipes for almond milk, rich almond milk, and almond cream.
Alan Roettinger: Yes!
Caryn Hartglass: They are all easy?!
Alan Roettinger: Yeah!
Caryn Hartglass: And they’re just very bide, the ratio of almonds to water. You choose!
Alan Roettinger: That’s right! How thick do you want it?
Caryn Hartglass: How thick do you want it? Yeah! They all have their purpose and then you use them in all of these wonderful recipes in your book.
Alan Roettinger: Thank you, thank you! Yes, I did!
Caryn Hartglass: You’re welcome, welcome, welcome! Now, I have recently started making almond cream and I think I’ve discovered a version of it in the “Vegan Holiday Cooking” from Candle Cafe.
Alan Roettinger: I’ve never seen that book!
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, it came out in the end of last year for the big winter holidays and they have a lovely soup recipe that I made, not exactly because I don’t know how to follow recipes exactly. It’s like a flaw in me but they did use the almond cream and it’s such a good thing to put on soup or anything!
Alan Roettinger: Yeah, and then if you flavor it you can actually pair it with something like almond crema, you know to make it look more like that Mexican cream that they use. It’s somewhere between sour cream and milk, somewhere in there.
Caryn Hartglass: Mhm! Chile ancho crema!
Alan Roettinger: Yes! I had a whole bunch of them and my editor made me trim it down because you know, I get carried away.
Caryn Hartglass: Well you could add them to your blog!
Alan Roettinger: I will!
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, don’t lose them!
Alan Roettinger: Yeah! Oh yeah no no they’re not lost, they’re just in a different folder!
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, so when people are always complaining, “I can’t give up cheese, I can’t give up cheese”, and although these aren’t really cheeses, they’re a bit creamy. They’re kind of like ricotta cheese recipes almost.
Alan Roettinger: Some of them, yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah!
Alan Roettinger: Well, here is another thing that didn’t make it into the book; I had an almond milk kefir!
Caryn Hartglass: Ooh!
Alan Roettinger: It was incredible and then my editor said “Oh, no because those kefir starters are dairy based even though they don’t have any milk in them. They’re dairy based so it’s not vegan.” Then I did some research, no one is going to want to hear this. All the kefirs and all the yogurts, whether they say vegan on them or not, all come from dairy. They don’t have any dairy in them, but the original culture is grown on dairy products and then you know they kind of, I don’t know how they remove it, but they make it into a little powder so you can pour it into whatever you are going to grow kefir on.
Caryn Hartglass: But, some of those cultures may have originated from dairy but they don’t use dairy to feed them or continue them anymore.
Alan Roettinger: Right, but they are in other words, in vegan terms, they are tainted. You know, I mean they go back. Anyway, I said it and that’s done, you know. We can move on.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, I’m not worried about it hairsplitting. There’s a lot of bacteria in the air that we can use to culture our food and who knows where it comes from.
Alan Roettinger: Not necessarily the good way.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, I think, you know when given a chance all bacteria can be good. Are you good bacteria or are you bad bacteria? I think they go both ways.
Alan Roettinger: I think it’s like poisonous in the dosage. It depends on how potent. We have salmonella in us and E. coli and everything else. The question is how much it proliferates and does it start to become a problem? Does it make you sick, or is it just floating around in there?
Caryn Hartglass: Okay I have a question about what’s not in this book and maybe I’m wrong, but I didn’t notice any recipes with nutritional yeast. Is that true?
Alan Roettinger: Uhm it may very well be because you know, I use nutritional use mostly for like when I steam vegetables. I put some of that Udo’s oil on it and garlic and then nutritional yeast, I just pack it under because it just tastes really good.
Caryn Hartglass: Right but-
Alan Roettinger: I never once thought of mixing it with milk.
Caryn Hartglass: Right well I was thumbing through and looking through the recipes and going, “Oh that looks good, that looks good, that looks good!” and then towards the end I thought, ‘I don’t think I saw nutritional yeast ones. Now I just noticed that because I tend to put it in everything.
Alan Roettinger: I’ll have to start doing that and see how it works.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah but I think it pairs very nicely with thick cream.
Alan Roettinger: It does, now that I think of it you know and the fact there’s a recipe in my- another thing my editor made me do is put a bunch of recipes in there that would be- the idea behind this book was not to get somebody to go vegan. The idea was to get them- give them a way to make stuff that they normally make with almond milk instead of dairy milk. Give like a stepping stone for them. I’m not trying to convert anyone, just trying to give them a way to use almond milk in new ways, but also in the old ways like making biscuits and you know all that stuff that I never eat and don’t recommend. They’re going to want it so you have to give them a recipe for it.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely because we are all on a different- well we are on the same path but we are all in different places on that food continuum.
Alan Roettinger: Yeah some of us are off charging through the weeds wondering where the path is.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
Alan Roettinger: Yeah!
Caryn Hartglass: I’m looking at cream of mushroom soup which-
Alan Roettinger: That one is tolerable.
Caryn Hartglass: Tolerable?
Alan Roettinger: Yeah it’s fine.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s good!
Alan Roettinger: Well, editors have a way of shredding your recipes you know, and doing things to them. No, you know which ones you have to try? The Cole Robbie soup is really, really good.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay.
Alan Roettinger: Really, really good!
Caryn Hartglass: Well that’s good because most people don’t know what to do with Cole Robbie.
Alan Roettinger: I know and it’s such a fantastic vegetable. Of course you do have to peel quite a bit off the outside so you can chew it.
Caryn Hartglass: Mhm!
Alan Roettinger: But, the heart of that thing is delicious, somewhere between a broccoli and then an artichoke or something. It’s really good.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay Cole Robbie soup and chef Roettinger also recommends…
Alan Roettinger: Oh I recommend highly, highly, highly, one of the fries. Best things I’ve ever made, the chocolate almond ice cream and it’s so easy.
Caryn Hartglass: Mmm everybody loves ice cream!
Alan Roettinger: And anybody who doesn’t love chocolate, I have to wonder about you.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah! I remember, now I’m thinking of them I don’t know why I’m going this way, but I remember back in the days when I did consume cow’s milk, ‘ahhh!’ It was a long time ago, but I remember trying frozen ice milk, like ice cream made with milk instead of cream or whatever-
Alan Roettinger: My mother tried to get me to eat that when I was two like are you kidding me?
Caryn Hartglass: No, no, no, I liked it.
Alan Roettinger: You did?
Caryn Hartglass: There was something I liked about it and I find that when I’ve made almond milk recipes, they remind me of that a little bit. Only better of course but there’s-
Alan Roettinger: Not if you make the rich almond milk.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh rich almond milk.
Alan Roettinger: With the ones I have, it’s two cups of nuts with four cups of water. Mmm!
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
Alan Roettinger: Very creamy!
Caryn Hartglass: Maybe the frozen ice milk varieties I’ve tried were flavored with almond and maybe that’s where I got the almond idea from, I don’t know.
Alan Roettinger: I don’t know either but my mother tried to get me to eat it and it was just a no, no, no, no.
Caryn Hartglass: Ugh!
Alan Roettinger: I used to put cream on my cereal, so I was not about to eat-
Caryn Hartglass: Oh my goodness you were like (Gremand? 19:27) from way back.
Alan Roettinger: You know my mother knew she had a problem child on her hands when I was a baby. I had a little satin pillow, I remember. I don’t know how I can remember it because I was so young but I remember it had little rainbow stripes on it. It was satin, it was a little baby pillow and she put a flannel pillowcase on it and every time she comes to check on me, I would’ve pulled the flannel off and be lying with my face on the satin. She’s like ‘okay, this is going to be something to deal with.’
Caryn Hartglass: All right I want to talk about the bad rep almonds have been getting with respect to the California drought.
Alan Roettinger: It’s not the almonds fault.
Caryn Hartglass: Hello! It’s not the almonds fault.
Alan Roettinger: Yeah it’s not the almonds and if somebody gets a bad rep it should be the meat and dairy industry that are really using a ton of water to no particular good.
Caryn Hartglass: Exactly so don’t feel bad about eating almonds, even if they’re from California. We need to get this whole thing figured out. The thing is, ditch the dairy, ditch the meat, and we will be a lot better off.
Alan Roettinger: Don’t cry for the almondida!!
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, I’ve got to add that to my repertoire.
Alan Roettinger: There you go; I thought you’d like that.
Caryn Hartglass: Now what about babies and almond milk?
Alan Roettinger: Apparently it’s not good for infants. It might just be- it might just be a bit too hard for them to digest.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Alan Roettinger: But you know, if you want to give them milk it should come from their mama.
Caryn Hartglass: Exactly!
Alan Roettinger: This was intended for them.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, unfortunately some mamas can’t but-
Alan Roettinger: Well yeah but some of them just don’t try hard enough.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Alan Roettinger: You know, my wife could have given up you know, when my son was born. It wasn’t easy, it really wasn’t, but she kept at it because she really wanted to breastfeed.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Alan Roettinger: Eventually it all kind of clicked but you know, I can see how somebody who has maybe no education about it or no understanding about it or grew up on formula and figures, “What’s the difference?”, they might just go, ‘Oh this is just not going to work’, and give up, you know.
Caryn Hartglass: Sure there’s a lot of missing information but there are a small amount of women who really for one reason or another cannot. They can either use milk from another woman and oh gosh, I remember reading a few weeks ago some horror stories about how some human milk that you can buy online was mixed with dairy milk.
Alan Roettinger: I thought somebody was making ice cream, breast milk ice cream.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh well I mean that’s a whole other thing.
Alan Roettinger: Well, yeah and they were mixing it with dairy.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah mixing it with dairy when people didn’t know it was mixed with dairy and that’s just that’s nasty cruel.
Alan Roettinger: Miscegenation of the species, kind of weird.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, anyway back to almond milk!
Alan Roettinger: We need the year off, don’t we?!
Caryn Hartglass: So whose idea was it to do an almond milk book, yours or your editors?
Alan Roettinger: No it was my publishers actually. It was really kind of like, I mean I have a confession to make, this is really their book and they got me to write it because they write good books.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay.
Alan Roettinger: That’s how these other items got in there. I had a big fight with them over it. I was like, “Oh no, no, no, I can’t put stuff in there like white flour.” I’ve already done one cooking demo at the natural grocers and the book was going around, you know if somebody was passing the book around. It wasn’t even about the almond milk because I didn’t have enough to- they didn’t have enough time to get the books in, but they were passing one around and somebody in the back goes “white flour?!”
Caryn Hartglass: I know, you know-
Alan Roettinger: “Not my fault!”
Caryn Hartglass: It’s so hard because I know we want to do what’s best for the world. We want to show people how they can eat nutritiously and deliciously and do it in a loving nonjudgmental way. Everybody is in a different place on that food continuum and you- it’s like you can’t win no matter what you do. You’re either too extreme, too rigid, or not extreme enough and you can’t-
Alan Roettinger: Yeah that’s why I have to stick to my guns, you know. I know I’m not going to win in terms of, you know like pleasing everyone or making everyone think that I’m doing the right thing, but I figure if I feel that I’m doing the right thing then I don’t care what anybody thinks. You know, because I’m doing it for myself. I’m doing the best that I can.
Caryn Hartglass: All right-
Alan Roettinger: And that’s where I got a little irked because I was kind of like, there was a chain around my neck and they were jerking me back.
Caryn Hartglass: No, so I want to know, in some of these recipes where you do use white flour-
Alan Roettinger: White flour!!
Caryn Hartglass: What would you use instead?
Alan Roettinger: I wouldn’t make that recipe. I don’t make pancakes. I mean I know you like to bake and I’m sure you have a lot of good substitutes, but I figure, you know because I come from a long history of doing certain things really well and I would rather do new things really well than try to make the old things not so well. You know what I mean?
Caryn Hartglass: Mhm!
Alan Roettinger: So if I look at a recipe that I used to make, well I mean like I don’t know, profiteroles. They have ice cream inside; they’re made with eggs, butter, and milk.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Alan Roettinger: You know, there’s no way you’re going to make it the same.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh no I’ve made them and they’re better.
Alan Roettinger: Okay well we’ll have to get together. You make them!
Caryn Hartglass: We have to get together, yes! I love doing things like that. I’ve recently made vegan cannolis that were pretty damn good.
Alan Roettinger: I wasn’t terribly fond of the Sicilian regular cannolis but-
Caryn Hartglass: Oh my gosh then you never went to a good Italian baker.
Alan Roettinger: I’ve been to a few good Italian bakeries but they had other things I guess I just didn’t-
Caryn Hartglass: Oh as a kid I went nuts over cannolis.
Alan Roettinger: I grew up in Mexico, we called those tacos.
Caryn Hartglass: Ha-ha you haven’t had a good cannoli and you probably never will have a good dairy cannoli, but anyway.
Alan Roettinger: Probably not, no.
Caryn Hartglass: Anyway the world is filled with all kinds of people and we all can’t do the same thing, right?!
Alan Roettinger: Right, that’s right!
Caryn Hartglass: You are doing what you are doing and that’s fine and good.
Alan Roettinger: Thank you!
Caryn Hartglass: Yes and-
Alan Roettinger: That made my day!
Caryn Hartglass: So my question is, are you working on a cookbook that you want to do now?
Alan Roettinger: No, you know what I’m working now on is a- I realized that I better start getting on the stick and making a living because the cookbooks really don’t support you.
Caryn Hartglass: I’ve heard that, yup!
Alan Roettinger: They’re great, they’re you know a wonderful calling card to get you in the door. They’re- it’s a nice thing every now and an “Ooh a royalty check!” but it’s not like you know- unless you’re (Jon Richard 26:11) or somebody you’re not going to make a living off of books.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Alan Roettinger: So what I figured I’m going to do is I’m going to just get out there and start teaching more cooking classes and maybe writing some articles for magazines- which you do get paid nicely for- and just sort of develop a following and get enough people that are interested in what I have to offer so that when I do come out with a new book, there will be a whole bunch of people to buy it. Then, I could write the book that I want to write.
Caryn Hartglass: That sounds like a really good plan Alan and I want to thank you for joining me again on “It’s All About Food”!
Alan Roettinger: It’s over?
Caryn Hartglass: It’s over, yes! I will see you somewhere, someday, somehow, and you are cooking!
Alan Roettinger: I promise!
Caryn Hartglass: You’re cooking! I’m going to let you go or you can stay on for the last minute or so but I wanted to say this was Alan Roettinger and he’s got a new book. Almond Milk Cookbook and we can find you at alanroettinger.com, right?
Alan Roettinger: Yeah, but you better spell it because no one will be able to tell.
Caryn Hartglass: a-l-a-n-r-o-e-t-t-i-n-g-e-r.com
Alan Roettinger: Yes, that’s exactly right!
Caryn Hartglass: Right and on the subject of teaching, I am involved right now with John and Ocean Robbins. I’m so privileged to be a part of this, but we are doing a six-week online course called “Plant Powered and Thriving”. It started last Tuesday and we have our second class tonight, but you are welcome! This is the global you, my audience out there to join in if you want to. It’s been so amazing! I’m a part of it as a co-director but I’m learning so much and you can find out more about it at healthy.foodrevolution.org, it’s called “Plant Powered and Thriving” and I’m loving it. So that’s the end of the show, thanks for joining me Alan and we’ll see you sometime!
Alan Roettinger: Wahoo!
Caryn Hartglass: Meanwhile, everyone have a delicious week!
Transcribed 7/26/2015 by Cassandra Maldonado