Most people love a good Thanksgiving turkey, but, I have a friend, Diana, who happens to be a vegetarian. Not like me, a partial vegetarian who doesn’t eat red meat or pork. Diana doesn’t eat any meat at all.
A few years ago, she told me they were going to have something called a “tofurkey” for Thanksgiving. It didn’t much surprise me, Diana has introduced me to the best vegetarian restaurants in Denver, so I thought she could whip up a mean tofu turkey. We’ve been to Water Course and found a lively delight of a restaurant. I was a bit concerned that the main course was going to be water, judging from the name on the door, but ate the most inventive dish of tofu ever on the planet. A couple of times, Diana has taken me to Govinda. I won’t provide you a link there – this happens to be the restaurant inside the Hare Krishna temple and it takes a strong sense of self to walk in there for lunch.
Growing up in Laguna Beach, California afforded me an intimate view of the Hare Krishnas. They danced around the town every weekend banging their tambourines and chanting. This was 1970’s California, so we just figured everyone was stoned. One year, I had to do a research paper on religion and chose the Hare Krishnas to study. I was curious about who they were and why they danced around in packs every weekend. The only thing I remember from my research is that they shave their heads except for the little pony tail in the middle so that God can yank them to heaven. I pictured how much that would hurt, God yanking you by a little pony tail, ripping out your hair as you fly up to heaven.
You can imagine that when Diana suggested we try Govinda for lunch, I had a little trepidation. I like my hair just like it is, thank you. I hoped we’d come out unscathed, since Diana is closer to a Southern Baptist rolled into a Zen Buddist, and not anything remotely resembling a Hare Krishna. Lunch was a buffet of unrecognizable lentils and vegetables that tasted absolutely fabulous. Truly a fun dining experience. No one proselytized us, no one came at us with a razor to shave our heads and everyone is welcome.
When I later asked Diana how the tofu turkey was, she said lousy. I couldn’t believe it – she couldn’t get the tofu turkey to cook up right, and she said the taste and consistency were disgusting. Their family has no plans for fake turkey in the future. They’re experimenting every year with how they can celebrate Thanksgiving “turkey free.”
I really don’t think you can. You can celebrate Passover brisket free and Christmas ham free, but you can not celebrate Thanksgiving turkey free. At least I can’t. I can skip the sweet potatoes, the pumpkin pie and even the mashed potatoes (if I really had to,) but the turkey and stuffing are beyond blissful.
My mother taught me to cook a turkey, but the first few attempts were a challenge. My father loves to remind me every year to “turn on the oven” with a grin. He lords it over me that my first turkey didn’t finish cooking until 10:30 at night. You can guess why. My sister cooked her first turkey upside down. I thought that was funnier than forgetting to turn on the oven, but she didn’t. The best way to cook a perfect turkey? Get a cooking bag and bag it up. It bastes itself and you do nothing until it’s ready to pull out of the oven.
So enjoy your Thanksgiving, remember to turn on the oven, and pass on the tofu this time of year.
Lifestyle Denver is a local Denver Real Estate blog written by Gretchen Rosenberg and loaded with real estate and lifestyle information about the Denver, Colorado region.