Last weekend, Richard, Kathleen and I went to a “living” food restaurant in Berkeley, Cafe Gratitude. There are four of them in the Bay Area. And while Cafe Gratitude has the vibe of an old-timey health-food restaurant from the ‘70s, it’s also concepty. Whenever the staff gathers around a birthday celebrant to sing, one is forced to think, New Agey Bennigans. Menu items, too, are named for affirmations. So in order to order a cup of coffee, one is asked to say, “I am courageous.” Or for a raw chocolate smoothie, “I am luscious.” Check your cynicism at the door, or you will feel most awkward.
We didn’t dine there, but instead stopped for coffee and cake. Coffee is cold-processed, meaning that it’s infused as opposed to brewed, and it arrived with a frothy cup of foamed almond milk. And we shared an “I am lovely,” the cobbler of the day, a surprising raw apple, pear, blueberry crumple topped with an oaty, nutty mix. We had it ala mode with the cafe’s signature soft serve, a light frozen dessert made from nut milk, dates and vanilla bean. Quite delicious, but pricey at $9.50; organics don’t always come cheaply, do they?
Anyway, I was fascinated. It’s such different food, like steamed quinoa and hemp seed pesto. Or lasagna made from sliced zucchini and cashew ricotta cheese?
So back home, I pulled out my copy of Living Cuisine, a book I received when I was on some press list. I’ve been threatening Mitch with raw food since cracking the binding, but “cooking” raw is quite an enterprise, what with the juicing, sprouting, nut soaking and dehydrating. Not to mention sourcing the ingredients and the equipment—juicer, mandolin, dehydrator, saladacco. One meal can involve days of preparation when you’re talking about sprouting grains and whipping up nut cheeses.
Call me crazy, but I just went to Craigslist to see if I can find a juicer cheap. Wanna bet this lasts all of about a week?