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The Essential Vegetarian

By Katharyn Jeffreys

Features Editor

Welcome back to another fun and informative year of The Essential Vegetarian. For you freshmen (or if you never happened to pick up The Tech before), this is a weekly column discussing health and environmental issues, recipes, and restaurant reviews from a vegetarian perspective. This start of the column’s fourth term is marked by a switch from Fridays to Tuesdays. As always, e-mail <> with comments, suggestions, facts, or recipes.

It is great to be back in Boston where options for vegetarians are diverse and satisfying. I spent the summer in the Midwest in an internship program that brought students together from across the country. Needless to say, with such diversity comes differences of opinion, and I frequently had to defend my choice to abstain from eating meat.

Perhaps most surprising was a lunch I had during my first week in Detroit. Having grown up in Chicago, I know that Midwesterners are generally meat-and-potatoes people. I was shocked, however, to find that the Chinese restaurant I dined at offered absolutely no vegetarian entrÉes. The only non-meat item listed on the menu was vegetable fried rice. There was no tofu, no mixed veggie dishes, not even vegetable spring rolls. Fortunately I was living in a college town and most of my choices there were more like those in Boston.

Since being back I have visited several new restaurants. The first is Iruna, located at 56 JFK Street in Harvard Square. Iruna is a family restaurant in the first floor of a house, serving Spanish cuisine. The matriarch of the family greets customers at the door while her son waits tables on the small back patio. Presumably Dad is in the kitchen cooking. The crowd on the night I visited was distinctly middle-aged, not the frolicking college students found at many other establishments around the square.

The menu is limited. Down one side are tapas (I had the setas al ajillo, or sautÉed mushrooms with garlic for $4.75), down the other are Spanish omelettes (I chose asparagus as my filling for $6.75). Proportionally, there were many veggie options among the short list of dishes. Both dishes I tried were extraordinarily oily, but also flavorful and wonderfully textured. Also on the menu are dishes containing potatoes, cheeses, and other vegetables.

A good Spanish meal is rounded out by a glass of sangria, or white wine. Iruna’s sangria leaves much to be desired -- it seems to be made with neither fresh fruits nor quality wine. The table white wine, however, was definitely palatable and served as a perfect compliment to both the food and the night air.

As always, I will close with a vegetarian recipe. Try making a Spanish omelette yourself. Mix in fresh vegetables, potatoes, cheese, or whatever you have in the fridge.

Spanish Omelette

2 eggs

1/4 onion, chopped

1/4 tomato, chopped

1/4 capsicum pepper, chopped

3-4 button mushrooms

A pinch of white pepper powder

Salt to taste

Oil or butter for frying

Beat the eggs in a bowl with salt and pepper powder in it. Heat oil in a pan, and fry the chopped onions, tomatoes, mushrooms and capsicum. To this, add beaten egg. Stir the eggs only on the upper layer with a fork until they get boiled for 10-15 seconds. Then, fry on the other side for 10-20 seconds. Serve hot with toast.