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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Vegan Generation Gap

Air Date: Week of

Paloma cooking with her mother, Marcia Fontes. (Photo: Courtesy of Paloma Beltran)

Traditional family recipes can go back through the generations, and that can present challenges when members of the newest generation go vegan. Ratatouille can be one answer, as Living on Earth’s Paloma Beltran tells us.


CURWOOD: More and more people today are choosing to eat less meat as a way to take better care of the planet and themselves. But Living on Earth intern Paloma Beltran says it’s not always easy.

BELTRAN: One of my favorite things about visiting my family is my mom’s cooking.
My mom, to me, is an undiscovered celebrity masterchef. Her name is Marcia, and she is definitely the cook of the house. It’s amazing how everything she makes comes out tasting so good, like from a five star restaurant. I have always praised her culinary skills, I’m like her number one fan.

So when I went vegan it was a much harder job for her. I stopped eating a lot of her food because it contains dairy or animal products. She uses this seasoning called norswisa, which is made up of ground chicken – it basically contains the waddle, the beak, the legs… It’s a very common seasoning in Mexico.

So I was a little bit hesitant to continue eating her food, even though she claimed it was 100% vegan -- but I still did. Until one day – I caught her in the act. She was sprinkling some norswisa into a veggie broth. After that, I completely stopped eating her food, for months. And she was heartbroken.

Ratatouille is a dish that can be easily made using all vegan ingredients. (Photo: benmillett, Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

It took her a while to try and incorporate vegan ingredients. I really didn’t expect her to, but she wanted to; very sweet of her. We started working together on vegan recipes -- things we could share. One of our favorite dishes is ratatouille. It’s very simple to make.
It basically consists of eggplant, cebolla, tomates, tomato paste, vegan butter, ajo, and fresh parsley. You’d start off with a Pyrex and at the bottom you’d put butter, onions, and salt and pepper. Then you’d soak slices of the berenjena in water, that way it softens up.

Once the eggplant is softened you can start making layers: of berenjena, tomato, onions, tomato paste, and seasoning. You’d continue making layers up to the top of the dish. Once you got to the top you’d sprinkle some fresh perejil, and then pop it into the oven, around 350 degrees. You’d leave it there until it’s softened up, and everything harmonizes. And that’s our favorite dish.



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