Last week, Mike Lee of Studiofeast, who long-time Edible Geography readers might remember from the Landscapes of Quarantine dinner team, served a seemingly identical seven-course dinner to twenty vegetarians and twenty omnivores. And, although the meat-eaters ate meat, and the non-meat-eaters didn’t, the vegetarian dishes were interchangeable with their meat all the way from tartare to marrow on toast.
What’s more, the vegetarians didn’t have to make do with substitutes — Quorn, Tofurky, Texturised Vegetable Protein, and the like. And, just to make this Doppelgänger Dinner into a real challenge, Lee and his partners did not allow themselves to repeat ingredients across pairs, so “if we used basil puree in the veggie dish, then we had to use parsley puree in the meat dish.”
In other words, for each course, Lee composed a dish, and then used completely different ingredients to assemble its equally delicious visual analogue. This is cookery as the counterfeiter’s art: dietary restrictions reframed as sensory surrogates.
The pair of dishes served at each course is shown below, although it’s up to you to decide which is which.
IMAGE: The amuses-bouche: vegetarians enjoyed spherified apricot puree in a coconut soup with mint; and ominvores were served salmon roe in Vichyssoise.
IMAGE: The twin tartares: for vegetarians, a spherified yellow pepper puree on a tomato, with a smudge of basil puree; for omnivores, smoked egg with beef and parsley.
IMAGE: Marrow on toast: an incredible 45 hand-carved Yukon Gold potatoes filled with caramelised onions and miso butter on the vegetarians’ plates; the omnivores got real beef bones, with duckfat.
IMAGE: A noodle soup, and this time it is the omnivores who have the stand-in, with the vaguely alarming-sounding Activa-bonded shrimp paste extruded through squeeze bottles to create their version of the vegetarian’s hand-pulled La Mian noodles.
IMAGE: Duck breasts served with celery and sweet potato; watermelon, compressed, cooked sous-vide, and grilled, with fennel and carrot.
IMAGE: Vegetarians were served carved tofu-cylinders with green beans and kimchi; for omnivores, sea scallops with garlic scape and red pepper.
IMAGE: Desserts by Micah Phillips of Compose: uni, lobster, corn, and licorice for omnivores; blueberry, frikeh, woodruff, and birch for veggies.