The Holiday season has meant a I’ve been attending a series of dinners and parties. I’ve never had a job where I’m management so the responsibility and the dinners are both new to me. My boss wanted to host a thank you dinner for her management staff at her home last weekend and her chef husband was going to cook. This was my first private, non-family, dinner party as a vegan and I wasn’t sure what to do. True to the vegan etiquette tips I found online, I offered to bring my own food; a suggestion that was meant with cries of horror. “You’re a guest! I can’t have a guest bring her own food!” My boss insisted her husband would cook something separate for me and I experienced waves of vegan guilt. The poor man would already be slaving over a hot stove for people and now he’d have to make a separate meal for me. I assured my boss I didn’t mind but she waved away my offer and I subsided.
Now I was on the horns of a dilemma. My boss had requested information on my dietary restrictions which she’d faithfully passed on to her husband but my brain was full of stories I’d found on the internet where vegans were offered fish, or animal-based broth was used. What would I do? Everything I am cringes at the rudeness of refusing food when someone has made something especially for me but this lifestyle isn’t one I’ve chosen purely for compassionate reasons. Dairy and I are not friends and my reactions to eating it are getting worse all the time (Dairy finds its way into EVERYTHING and I’m having to become a label ninja in order to avoid it). I would prefer not to consume anything animal based but neither could I be rude to a human being. I fashioned a plan.
I had holiday shopping to do which meant I’d have to eat a late lunch. My boss had agreed to let all of us staff bring appetizers so I dug through my cookbooks and found a high protein four seed paté. I figured with the late lunch and my appetizer I would be able to taste the food made for me by this poor man but not so hungry that, if I couldn’t make a meal of it, I wouldn’t starve.
I swear, the paté is going to be the star of this post but I have to tell you all how the dinner party went. My boss’s husband bent over backwards to create a meal for me. He made his butternut squash soup with organic vegetable broth (he even showed me the container) and served the cream separate. My co-diners didn’t mind. They enjoyed swirling their cream into their soup and I enjoyed mine dairy free. He made my potatoes gratin in a little ramekin, without cream, and made me a personal berry crumble with olive oil instead of butter. My main course was quinoa and vegetables that he stir-fried with olive oil and a balsamic reduction. I ate like I hadn’t seen food in days, cleaning my plate of every morsel. His kindness to me, and his desire to be sure my dinner was tasty, almost brought tears to my eyes. A thank you card doesn’t seem like enough.
Everyone was curious to try my vegan paté. I found the recipe in Robin Robertson’s “1000 Vegan Recipes” and the spread is made with sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, tahini, garlic, soy sauce, and olive oil. The seeds are toasted before going into the food processor to be turned to powder. All other ingredients are tossed in and the lot pulsed until it forms a spread. Side note: the olive oil can be left out of this recipe. The essential oils in the seeds and the tahini are all this recipe needs. My co-workers were surprised at how tasty my paté was although the multi-seed crackers were bigger hit. I admit, I’m always thrilled when non-vegans try something I make and are surprised at how full of flavor vegan food is. The idea that I live on grass and tofu is steadily being proven wrong.
The dinner party was the first time I’d ever made this recipe and it went over so well the paté made another appearance at my work holiday party. This party was appetizers and snacks instead of a potluck and I thought the paté a great choice because it was easy, it traveled well, and I’d have a high protein snack in the middle of the afternoon. The chocolate cookies were far more popular than my savory spread but I think I’ve found a go-to party favorite. Now, I just have to work on my presentation. Maybe a sprig of holly, or a wreath of evergreen branches…something that says “Have a Happy Holiday and enjoy some vegan paté”.