Adventures in Vegetarian Taxidermy

Erik is out of the office this week, so we are reprinting a column from 2005.

Kevin: Hello, and welcome to Kevin Ketchum's Kitchen Adventures. I'm Kevin Ketchum and this is my kitchen. Today, I'm joined by Bastian Flannelbeard, noted vegetarian taxidermist and vegetable activist.

Bastian: Hello, Kevin.

Kevin: Hi, Bastian. Vegetarian taxidermy? That's a new one on me. How does that work?

Bastian: Well, let's say you've just enjoyed a particularly good vegetarian meal, like vegetarian lasagna or tofu pizza, and you want to commemorate the experience. How would you do that?

Kevins: Well, actually I hate—

Bastian: That's right, you'd have the vegetable stuffed so you could show off your commitment to the vegetarian lifestyle.

Kevin: But didn't I already eat it?

Bastian: That's right.

Kevin: So how do I stuff it and save it for later?

Bastian: When we first started our company, that little problem set us back for six months. Then we came up with a new solution. We stuff a replica of the vegetable.

Kevin: A replica?
Bastian: Sure. We take a vegetable of a similar look and size, empty out the seeds and flesh, which we save for later — can't let that go to waste, can we? — and then fill it and close it up. The client has an exact replica of the scrumptious vegetable they just enjoyed.

Kevin: What kind of vegetables do you prefer to work with?

Bastian: Oh, we especially enjoy working with your larger vegetables, like pumpkin, squash, eggplants. Tomatoes are okay as well.

Kevin: Aren't tomatoes technically a fruit?

Bastian: I try to avoid that "in the box" thinking. It taints our understanding and appreciation of vegetables. It's just one more example of Corporate America trying to prevent us from expressing our true artistic vision.

Kevin: How does Corporate America benefit by making you call a tomato a vegetable?

Bastian: You know how they are.

Kevin: Um, no.

Bastian: The Culinary Industrial Complex — what I call "Big Food" — is afraid of art and the truth it speaks.

Kevin: What kind of truth can you get from a vegetable?

Bastian: Vegetables encourage us to return to Mother Earth and embrace her energies. Big Food is afraid of people turning their backs on their materialistic ways, and embracing a more natural and simple lifestyle.

Kevin: What about the way a vegetable is raised? I'm sure a vegetable activist like you must have some thoughts on that.

Bastian: Absolutely. We find that organic vegetables are the easiest and best to work with. They come from the earth and don't put any nasty pesticides or fertilizers into the ecosystem. Our business is to celebrate the best the earth has to offer, so obviously we have to use subjects that celebrate Mother Earth's giving spirit.

Kevin: Hmm. And what kind of filler do you use?

Bastian: We fill the vegetables with a non-expanding polystyrene foam and seal and coat it with two-part petroleum-based epoxy.

Kevin: Two-part. . .? So what do you do if a client wants to have a vegetable stuffed from a meal six weeks previously, or they live five states away.

Bastian: We ask them to provide us with several photos of the vegetable in question, and we'll locate one that closely resembles the subject.

Kevin: (chuckles) Or they could just have the photo framed.

Bastian: Eww, no! Why would someone want a picture of a vegetable? That's crazy. A picture is just a brief snapshot of a memory. A stuffed vegetable allows a person to experience the texture and weight and smell of their stuffed vegetable.

Kevin: What does a stuffed vegetable smell like?

Bastian: Well, for the first few months, it smells like non-expanding polystyrene foam and two-part petroleum-based epoxy. So we encourage the owners to leave them outside or in a well-ventilated garage for the first three months to avoid hallucinations.

Kevin: So if you're a vegetarian taxidermist —

Bastian: And activist.

Kevin: And activist, how do you feel about your fellow taxidermists who deal with animals?

Bastian: They're murderers.

Kevin: They didn't actually kill the animals though, the hunters did.

Bastian: But they provide an opportunity for the hunter to glorify their acts of murder.

Kevin: So you're opposed to the consumption of any meat product.

Bastian: That's right. But a life without meat doesn't mean you can't enjoy different cuisines. For example, I've got a great recipe for vegetarian haggis using rolled oats, grains, and soybeans.

Kevin: That's not even haggis. Haggis is made from sheep organs. It's like cooking a slab of tofu and rolled oats and calling it a vegetarian steak.

Bastian: Actually, that's the best steak you can make. It's just as good as the real thing.


Photo credit: Jason Ruck (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

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