Tuesday 28 October 2008

My Personal Vegetarian 100 List

When I was a naïve undergraduate studying English Literature, the first essay I wrote was on Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. When I asked for feedback, my tutor, who had already happily admitted to us he was ‘galloping towards retirement’, told me I was duped by Woolf. But her concerns about literature being merely about great dead men proved to be a fair warning.

It was liberating to challenge the literary canon of great books by great men. I loved the freedom of expatriate 1920s and 1930s Paris. I discovered little-known writers such as Jean Rhys, HD, and Zelda Fitzgerald, as well as publishers such as Sylvia Beach of Shakespeare and Company. I also grew to love some of the more recent writers such as Marilynne Robinson, Marge Piercy, Dorothy Hewett, Margaret Drabble, Drusilla Modjeska. Then there is the fascination of how the canon evolves with writers such as Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath taking their place after lurking in the shadows.

I was reminded of the literary canon when I saw the Omnivores 100 List from Very Good Taste circulating the blogosphere recently. I became vegetarian as a young adult and never had the desire to explore the weird and wonderful fleshy dishes out there. But I have eaten foods I never would have encountered if not for being vegetarian. The Ominvore’s 100 List includes about 40 foods that I wouldn’t touch because they are meat or fish. I liked the idea of the list but it wasn’t for me. Not only do I not want to eat roadkill or foie gras but I just don’t see the point of saying I never had a root beer float when I have my fair share of lime spiders (for the uninitiated, they are very similar but the latter is Australian). And the only remotely Australian food on the list is crocodile!

Then I started to see some bloggers reflecting thoughtfully on the list or creating their own. It seemed more fun to me to write up my own list of foods that comfort, fascinate and inspire me. I tried to include food from my Australian culture, my travels, other blogs, and some vegetarian or vegan staples. I make no claims to being an omnivore but I do believe that being a vegetarian has made my diet richer and more interesting.

I have linked most items to recipes or explanations - most with photos. The one item that I couldn’t find a link to was minimum chips – this is the smallest amount of chips you can buy in many Australian fish and chips shops. One day I will write about it. (Update - I have finally written a fish and chips post and pasted the link in for minimum chips.) All items are intended to be the vegetarian versions, if I haven’t been explicit.

I have bolded the foods that I have eaten (although I didn't bold a few where my memory was vague). I don’t claim to be the most adventurous foodie but I do know that there is a lot of food out there that I am curious to try out and it shows there are still foods I would like to blog about.

Some interesting alternative lists:

The Vegetarian 100 – at Feeding Maybelle
The Vegan 100 – at Bittersweet
The British 100 – at Food Stories
The Sweet 100 – at Cakespy
The Dessert 100 – at Retorte
The Indian Vegetarian 100 - at One Hot Stove

1. Chocolate crackles
2. Green smoothie
3. Tofu scramble
4. Haggis
5. Miso soup
6. Chilli with mole
7. Fondue
8. Marmite/Vegemite/Promite
9. Borscht
10. Tofurkey
11. Nachos
12. Paneer
13. Tunnocks caramel wafer biscuits
14. Twisties
15. Stollen
16. Liquorice tea
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Gyoza
20. Tempeh Reuben
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Quince jelly
23. Spaetzle
24. Irn Bru
25. Romanesco Broccoli
26. Jam Roly Poly
27. Caramelised condensed milk (Dulce de leche)
28. Rainbow chard
29. Sesame halva
30. Paté
31. Wasabi peas
32. Chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Tablet
34. Sauerkraut
35. Lime spider
36. Mulled wine
37. Pumpkin scones
38. Mead
39. Bee sting cake
40. Minimum chips from a fish and chip shop
41. Bombe Alaska
42. Purple sprouting broccoli
43. Dahl
44. Homemade tofu
45. Red velvet cake
46. Stroopwafle
47. Lavender
48. Vegetable sushi
49. Damper hot from BBQ
50. Seaweed
51. Matcha muffins
52. Umeboshi
53. Nutroast
54. Apricots fresh from the tree
55. Tim tams
56. Nettle soup
57. Heather Cream liqueur
58. Pho
59. Scrapple
60. Falafel from street cart in Israel
61. Chipotle in adobe sauce
62. Mango lassi
63. Chickpea cutlets
64. Masala dosa
65. Durian
66. Homemade vegetarian sausages
67. Churros e chocolat
68. Smoked tofu
69. Fried plantain
70. ANZAC biscuits
71. Gazpacho
72. Warm chocolate chip cookies
73. Absinthe
74. Red corn on the cob
75. Quinoa
76. Pomegranate
77. Eggless quiche
78. Tempeh
79. Jerky
80. Gozleme
81. French onion soup
82. Purple potatoes
83. Pierogi
84. Laksa
85. Moussaka
86. Home made sprouts
87. Vegan ‘cheese’ sauce
88. Stuffed zucchini flowers
89. Matzoh ball soup
90. Pavlova
91. Seitan salami
92. Kimchi
93. Butterscotch chips
94. Annatto seeds
95. Panch Phoran
96. Deep fried mars bars
97. Wattleseed
98. Polenta
99. Dragonfruit
100. Rock samphire


  1. Impressive list. There's a whole bunch of things on here that I haven't heard of. ANZAC biscuits?

  2. Goodness, that must have taken you a while to put together. Quite an interesting list of foods there.

  3. Holy moly - I just realised you have provided links for ALL of these! Well done you!!!

  4. thanks Wendy - I put links because I have a hearty dose of cultural cringe and realise what I take for granted, others don't have a clue about - but also found it quite interesting to find some recipes for things I would like to make

    thanks Lisa - glad you find it interesting - it has been a bit of an ongoing project to put the list together but I quite enjoyed it

  5. What a great list! And you've already eaten so many of them :) I would say you MUST try a tempeh reuben some time--nothing else like it!

    Loved the list of books, too--Plath was one of the first writers I taught in a course about journal writing over here. She's still be around if they'd had Prozac back then (but of course, who knows if she'd still be a genius in that case?).

  6. Great lists Johanna, but if you don't mind, I think we need to educate Wendy on ANZAC's, don't you think?

  7. Samphire is lovely - you must try if you ever get the chance!

    Lots of other interesting choices on there, too...

  8. Great list Johanna! Makes me much less squeamish than some of the more omnivorous equivalent list and it definitely has a truly multicultural nature. Tunnocks and tim tams!

    My mum bought me a cookbook a few weeks ago which has a damper recipe in it - I'd never heard of it before but now I'm very intrigued to try it as you've put it on your list too

  9. thanks Ricki - I am eyeing off the recipe for tempeh reuben in Vegan with a Vengeance! Yes, Plath was one of those writers who were hard to avoid in undergrad - and with good reason

    thanks Lucy - I think there are many people who need to learn about ANZACs (this list is part of my cunning plan)

    Thanks AForkful - would love to see samphire as Denis Potter's raving about it has made it high on my curiosity list

    Thanks Sophie - Damper is a bit like scone but really I feel like it is not the same in the oven as in the coals of the BBQ which is how my mum made it for us when we were little and it was so wonderful - but I like it because it has a great place in Australian food history (and yes I like a list that doesn't make me feel squeamish!)

  10. What an interesting list Johanna. A few of those foods I've never heard of and there are a number I haven't tried. But what marvellously evocative name: Stroopwafel and Bee-sting Cake.

    And A Room of One's Own - fantastic, fantastic piece of writing. Duped by Virginia? Never.

  11. thanks Kathryn - I wish you had been my first year tutor! Some of the names of food are poetry aren't they - I have to admit including some because their names are so wonderful

  12. This is the best version of the 100 list I've seen! It must have taken you ages, but it makes it a treat for us all to read! I can recommend samphire as well - my PhD supervisor's wife used to get it for their summer party every year, but I've never actually seen it for sale myself. I love the sound of the bee sting cake, though haven't quite managed to work out why it's called that yet...

  13. This is a phenomenal version of the 100 list! I'd love to cook some of the items you've yet to taste, so if you're ever over in Northern California, say hello!

    Thank you for your great recipes and site!

  14. Great list! I'm not a vegetarian, but there are plenty of things I want to try on it! :D


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