A Vegan Jew Goes to Europe
It's pretty easy to find vegetarian food in London, although I'm not certain that it was all vegan. One pub offered tasty vegetarian Lincolnshire sausages for breakfast, and many other mainstream restaurants offered basic vegetarian and vegan fare. It was exciting to be able to get late-night pappadum and chutney from the many Indian eateries around town. A home-cooked Shabbat dinner at a Chabad house was probably the best meal I had in London, even though I couldn't eat the main course.
I wanted to see Sikh guards sans bearskin hats at Buckingham Palace, but not surprisingly, I saw guards with fur hats.
I savored a delicious vegan ragout croissant (featuring tofu, seaweed, leeks, and curry) at a vegetarian restaurant called Bolhoed. I greatly enjoyed a tofu dish at one of the many Indonesian restaurants in Amsterdam; Indonesia was a Dutch colony. I had looked up sayings in Dutch about vegetarian food, but Amsterdam was so tourist-driven and English-friendly that I didn't have a chance to use them.
Readers might recall that in heebnvegan's debut post four years ago, I discussed my questionable Dutch heritage. I carried copies of my grandfather's birth and bris certificates around Amsterdam, but I didn't have a chance to talk to anyone about them.
I went to the Anne Frank House right around the time when news reports were circulating about the 50-year anniversary of the film version of The Diary of Anne Frank. The following day, when I was taking pictures at a fast-food eatery, an onlooker said to me, "Why don't you buy something instead of taking photographs? Are you Jewish? Probably." We still have a long way to go in combating anti-Semitism.
I did get to use my foreign-language tips for vegetarian eating quite a bit in Italy. Marinara pizza was a common option on many menus, so I didn't even have to special-order pizza without cheese. I'd been told in advance that virtually all pasta in Italy has egg, so I looked the other way when ordering gnocchi and other pasta dishes, so long as I asked for them without cheese. I enjoyed some nice vegetable soups and side dishes with Cannellini beans, but for the most part, I had to make a special effort to order side dishes with vegetables and beans so that I wouldn't only eat carbs. The most unique dish I had was vegan kebab in pita-like bread at a vegetarian restaurant in Milan.
Much of Italy was on vacation for the month of August. I didn't get to go to Chabad houses or elsewhere for Shabbat dinners while in Florence and Rome. I did go to shul in both cities, though, and the Florence synagogue in particular is beautiful and on par with Italy's duomos as far as splendid art and architecture are concerned.