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The Essential Vegetarian

By Katie Jeffreys

I have recently eaten several meals at Italian restaurants, all of which were alarmingly uninteresting. In the past weeks I have eaten at both Pappa Razzi locations: at the Cambridgeside Galleria and on Dartmouth Street by the Copley T station. While the menus are the same at both locations, the service and quality of food are immensely superior at the Boston location. I had ravioli stuffed with spinach and ricotta at the Galleria, and found it to be extraordinarily bland. The sauce tasted like grocery store varieties, ruining the otherwise good pasta. I also had the antipasto platter which was a smorgasbord of cold, mediocre grilled vegetables.

I had a lighter meal at the Boston location, trying a salad. Tasty greens with small croutons, tomatoes, and goat cheese in a creamy dressing made for a satisfying though not exceptional dish. I also sampled the tiramisu which had a tasty and frothy filling was destroyed by the overly soggy soaked cake layers. The server here was friendlier but his joviality was only present the few times he came to check on our table. Additionally the wonderful bread which flowed freely at the mall restaurant was doled out one to a customer at the Boston Pappa Razzi.

I also had a meal at the Galleria Italiana and must say that it too might be better situated at the Cambridgeside Galleria, so pretentious was its attitude. Starting with a salad, which was cited as having poached tomatoes, basil, smoked mozzarella and mushrooms. Independently the cheese, tomato, and mushroom were excellent. However the stack the salad was served in proved to be short on cheese and tomatoes and excessive in its unbelievably hard bread base.

I tried the ravioli here too, in order to compare. It was a special of the day, stuffed with roasted vegetables and cheese in a tomato and cheese sauce. The filling was inconsistent. One bite was tongue-burningly spicy, the next was wholly cheese, and the next a tasty blend of vegetables. The past itself was cooked about three minutes past al dente, making the dish approach a soggy mush.

For dessert, the waiter encouraged us to try the famous vanilla bean bread pudding. While it was tasty (somewhat like french toast), it was not something I would gush about. Our waiter was very annoying in general, cracking bad jokes, teasing us with insults, and generally not allowing us to have the peaceful dinner which the decor invited.

I am looking to have a meal at a good restaurant, so please e-mail any suggestions to <>.

One more plug for the Great American Meat-Out on Tuesday, March 14. That day Howard Lyman, President of EarthSave, Founder of Voices for a Viable Future, and author of a new book Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher who Won't Eat Meat will be speaking at MIT. He was a cattle rancher and became vegetarian for personal health, environmental impact, concern for living beings, and global equity and sharing.The speech, sponsored by Boston EarthSave, Boston Vegetarian Society, MIT Vegetarian Support Group, MIT Social Justice Cooperative, MIT SAVE Environmental Club, and MIT Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals will be held at 7 p.m. in 26-100.

I have a few other personal announcements and comments. First, I would like to thank The Dan Katz for his “cease fire.”

Also, a Public Service Announcement: MIT provides us with these wonderful things called garbage cans and recycling bins. In fact you may have noticed the recent increase in the recycling bin population. Please use these receptacles. When you have take-out and drink containers from the food trucks, Aramark, etc. don’t just leave them in the classrooms, hallways, and clusters. It is no chore to pick them up and place them in the proper bin. And given a choice between placing a bottle in a garbage can or the recycling bin next to it, please choose the recycling bin. This will make our campus a more beautiful place (or at least a little nicer) and will help the world out in the meantime.

Finally I would like to say goodbye to Tony Cassesse, Manager of Networks. You may recall last semester I met with him to express my concerns over Network’s vegetarian options. I hope that whoever fills his shoes does so with as much concern for the students as Tony had. As always, please e-mail me with any questions or comments at <>. This week’s recipe is a simple casserole. Feel free to experiment with this one to your tastes.

Veggie Casserole

1 can red kidney beans, drained. (the mid-sized can)

1 can chick peas, drained. (same size)

2 cans crushed tomatoes (16 oz/ 500 mL)

1 green pepper, chopped

1 large onion, diced

garlic cloves to taste

2-3 cups frozen vegetables.

Drain the tomatoes, reserving liquid. Combine all ingredients in large casserole dish, and bake in 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. Add tomato juice until desired consistency is reached.

You may add 1/2 - 1 cup grated cheese the last ten minutes of cooking if desired.

Serve over couscous (or any other grain you like).