Just as it's become cold and I want nothing more than to be cooking and baking, I've gone back. Back to the office, where "vegan" and "in a cult" and "from Mars" are all pretty much in the same category. Back to midtown, where the "v" word is veal, all salads are served with meat in them, and it costs nine dollars (or more) to eat from a bodega.
(There used to be another vegan in the office, and she was beautiful and smart and awesome and I miss her.)
So, my first day back in cubicles and fluorescent lighting went like so:
Woke up and realized I was totally unprepared - meaning that I had no almond milk for breakfast. My standard breakfast is cereal with almond milk. It's what I eat in the morning, period. Thank GOD we weren't out of soy creamer or I would have had to go without coffee, and I might not have made it to the office at all. I ended up having the coffee and a banana - luckily I have a couple of bananas sitting around for the chocolate breakfast cake recipe that I still haven't gotten to try out.
OK. So obviously by like 10 I was starving; too bad that our lunch break is a strict 12:30 to 1:30 and no wavering. Fortunately the morning wasn't too challenging; mostly just saying hello to familiar faces, getting my phone and computer set up, stealing as many supplies as possible from the mail room, and so forth.
Lunch came none too soon - I thought I was going to pass out - and Miss Les and I went to my favorite midtown sushi place. Actually, thinking about it, it may be my favorite sushi place in Manhattan. It's called Tanaka, and it's on 51st between 3rd ave and 2nd ave making it a very short jaunt from the office. What makes it special is that they offer a few rolls I've never seen anywhere else: mainly a peanut roll and a mango roll. (It doesn't hurt that their roll special is three bucks cheaper than the place on 53rd street, either.) Add an avocado roll, miso soup, and some green tea to that and I'm good to go.
By about 3pm I was fading fast - sleeping didn't go too well last night - and I was forced to resort to that omnipresent and accursed entity: the free office coffee. Of course there's half-and-half and whole milk and skim milk and even non-dairy creamer (which as we all know actually does contain dairy), but the thought of soy creamer to them is completely alien and maybe even just flat out wrong. But a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, and now I know that drinking my coffee black at the Denny's back in high school was good training.
5pm came as a relief, and dinner with my man more so. We went to Houston's on 54th and 3rd ave, which of course was a mistake. But I wanted to go there because it's pretty and fancy and moreover because it's so exactly like the one in New Orleans, which is nice in its way. And it had the obvious advantage that we were already standing right next to it. There were approximately six things we could eat on the whole menu (assuming omissions were made), and they were out of three of them. But nevertheless we made a meal of it, and I had wine, and we had a nice time just being out together.
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Ah, midtown, midtown. When I claimed my veganity two and a half years ago I was already working there, so really I've spent almost all of my vegan life trying to figure out how to navigate in a food world that seems dead set against feeding me. Granted, animal products are not the only thing that irk me in our food system, but when pickings are that slim it becomes my focus.
Thankfully I have Sam the juice cart man on the corner of 3rd Ave and 48th street, providing me with fresh juices and in the winter lentil or vegetable soup, depending on the day. There's a good middle eastern place on 53rd - Marakesh - and midtown-bodega-delis everywhere that tend to have a random smattering of edible goods. And who could forget Ess-a-Bagel? But of course, it all comes at a $price$. In the land of law firms, busy people are willing to pay for convenience, and bodega and restaurant owners are more than willing to charge them for it.
Basically, I'll have to do some planning as to how to economically navigate daily meals in the fifty-something-east grid of Manhattan... and naturally I'll be telling you all about it.