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Sunday, 11 May 2014


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Dear Mike,

Tangentially drifting off topic (because it is, after all, open Mike)…

I am amazed at how prejudiced people are against vegetarian restaurants. Prejudice is truly what it is. I'm pretty omnivorous, and so are the folks I socialize with. You can suggest almost any ethnicity or variation on a theme and they'll be interested in trying it. Even exotica, like molecular gastronomy. They're all over it. But when a group of us are getting together to go out some place to eat and someone suggests a vegetarian restaurant, you can see the looks on their faces, like, “Well, I suppose if we must, and I'll probably be able to find something I can stomach.” And, so, it pretty much doesn't happen in a mixed crowd of omnivores and veggievores; their unvoiced disapproval is palpable.

And, yes, it is prejudice. It's people's ignorant notions of what vegetarian cooking must be like… or once they had a vegetarian meal and they didn't like it… or some such nonsense. It makes about as much sense as someone saying that they went to a bad Chinese restaurant once, so they're never, ever going to try Chinese food again.

pax \ Ctein

[Oh, I not only have nothing against vegetarian restaurants, I have nothing against good restaurants of any kind--all of which are too scarce around where I live. That's the default around here, in my view: suspected of crimes against gastronomy until proven otherwise.

A new restaurant just opened near me, and everything about it is great--with the very distinct exception of the food, which is horrible. It's your classic everything-from-a-can-unless-it's-from-a-cardboard-box cafeteria-style food. I was served mashed potatoes that wouldn't have been out of place in a penitentiary mess hall (you know, the potatoes from a mix, smothered with glutinous khaki-colored gravy from a large, industrial-sized can). The only thing good I can say about them is that they can do a standard eggs, bacon, and toast breakfast without doing violence to one of the three--and this is in contrast to the local gyros restaurant, which serves bacon that looks like it's left over from the Korean war. A picky dog might find that bacon inedible. Every other meal I've had there--the new restaurant down the road, I mean--has been substandard. And I'll still give them at least a few more tries before giving up.

So I'm delighted to know about Cafe Manna. I will absolutely go back, for sure. --Mike]

I've enjoyed John's books in audio format (from my superb local library) for the past four years. As a landscape photog in the Rocky Mtn West, everything (it seems) is 200 to 400 mile trips. Virgil Flowers and Lucas Davenport have kept me company on those eight- and ten-hour drive times. Well-done audio books allow handsfree "reading" and with the outstanding voices paired with his stories, my mind stays sharp for the twisties and long lonely straights. Those shooting trips usually start at midnight and, after hiking back to the truck after the day's last light, it'll be past midnight before I pull in to the drive at home. I've had the feeling I would enjoy a casual dinner conversation with him because of how he creates and maintains the characters in his books. He's smart (obviously) and clever (thankfully) and skillful as a writer. I'll look forward to the next episodes from him. I've exhausted Virgil, and have three to go with Lucas. Carry on, John.

Aha !
Another Prey book out.

That's tomorrow night spoken for, then.

Btw, that last shot of our esteemed author looks disturbingly like (a slightly slimmer) Chevy Chase off 'Community'...

Egon H. E. Lass seems to be observing proceedings with what I can only describe as friendly professional interest.

As for food, a staple breakfast for camping for us bikers is that marvel called The full English Breakfast. Sausage, bacon, black (blood) pudding, fried egg, fried tomatoes and/or baked beans, and a fried slice, (of bread) with a pint tankard of tea.

Not for nothing is it known as a 'Heart attack on a Plate', but we cram a lot into a weekend and it sets us up for the day.

Ah yes, the aperture ring that turns too easily. It's the same on the 35mm that I have. It's much better (stiffer) on the X100s. I never had it move unintended there. I also wouldn't have minded if the 35mm would only move in full stops like on the X100s.

Sigh, maybe I should keep the X100s after all. If it was only as fast as the X-T1! (Focus, EVF)

Anthony Bourdain has a theory that many vegetarians/vegans hate food and therefore also don't know how to cook. He's a known crank though.

Anyway, I've certainly had fantastic vegetarian food, although not usually in "western" style restaurants (Indian and Japanese are the best here). American vegetarianism has its share of good cooks, but it also has a lot of strange nonsense like the various soy and soy-like products dressed up to look like "meat" or "ice cream". Bleah.

My awful vegetarian meal story: many years ago, on the strength of their cookbooks, we went to the Greens restaurant in SF. Pretty spendy. Utterly mediocre. In SAN FRANCISCO where you can trip on the sidewalk and find the best produce in the entire continental U.S. How does that even happen?

Dear Mike,

I wrote maladroitly. It reads like I was accusing you of the vegetarian prejudice, which I did not mean to be.

Still, it sounds like you're saying I should not visit Waukesha for the gastronomic delights? Am I getting that right? [g]

Vegetarian dining has become a lot more predictable thanks to Yelp and Google. As always, one has to read online reviews with care, but it's not hard to separate the wheat from the chaff and the greasy spoon (even if it's vegetable oil) from the edible.

pax / Ctein

Sorry, Ctein, but I'm with Mike on this one. If you distinguish between ethnic restaurants which serve vegan, and the "American" vegan version, there is a world of difference. I'm an omnivore with strong carnivorous tendencies, but I do like a number of non-meat foods. When done in a good ethnic restaurant, they are often excellent. BUt there seems to be a bimodal distribution of non-ethnic vegatarian restaurants, with the lower quality side much larger than the high qualty. I speak from my experience in New York, Wasington DC, Denver and a few other cities. While there are a few good ones, I can well understand why people give up on them after a few bad experiences. Unless they are professional food critics, they reasonably can't justify the pain of repeated bad meals. Maybe some vegatarians are proud of suffering for their beliefs??

I've been a very strict vegetarian for 37+ years [no fish, no fowl, no beef, etc + NO EGGS] and am leaning more & more towards a vegan diet. With that in mind I have to say that I've been pretty lucky with regard to quality & food selection so I'm a bit surprised at Mr. Camp's comments regarding the restaurants he's experienced. I can think of a handful of great places in Chicago alone. On the West Coast its a no-brainer so I'm wondering where he finds these places. Even here in Zurich we have the oldest [128 years and running] vegetarian restaurant in Europe and its always packed + several others to choose from.

Anyway, I haven't had the opportunity to try it yet but I was just told about a web site called www.happycow.net. Its supposed to have a detailed listing of vegetarian restaurants throughout the US. Hope that helps.

Is Toronto on the schedule?


Hi Mike
This is totally off topic but I couldn't help myself.
Firstly, great work on your part and I go to your site every day!
Reason for writing is that as you have your hands on an X-T1 fuji x-trans camera I though I should add my 2 cents...
I have been using Photoshop longer than I care to remember, however I now use Iridient Developer for x-trans and my Sony A7r files and the difference with x-trans is astonishing! Sony files are better also than cs-6 but not to such a degree. If you give it a try just use the sharpening which is in Detail - Method dropdaown and use the R-L Deconvolution .... I don't think anyone can seriously evaluate x-trans files except in Iridient... said my 2 cents.
Iridient Developer url: http://www.iridientdigital.com/products/rawdeveloper_download.html

"the trick is not to use your wrist," he told me, "use your whole arm"

The exact reason why writing with fountain pens is less fatiguing than writing with a ballpoint pen. Plus, the writing angle of the fountain pen is at a nice 45-degree angle, rather than the nearly vertical angle required by a ballpoint pen.

(I've been trying to catch up with your blog because I've been hooked by the fountain pen bug. Too many good web sites and so many current manufacturers of those "antique pens".)

Nice to get a more complete picture of Mr. Camp. He always has insightful comments.

Apropos of #1 in murder, some local statistics found while seeing if any copies of John' s latest are available at my local library. St. Joseph Co. IN. Of the 65 copies, all hardbound I'm sure, the library has, all are out, and 20 patrons are waiting in line for some to be returned. No E-book copies, yet.

After dinner, through your link of course, I will brave the weather of the ether, go to Amazon, and get my very own Kindle copy.

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