No Mushrooms in Fiore

*UPDATE* FOX News… I mean New York Magazine (I kid, I kid) Food Bloggers had their (inaccurate) fun with this entry. Truth be told, Fiore is a decent, affordable restaurant in my hood – I just wish they had a few more options for conscientious eaters and that they dealt with customer feedback in a more positive way. ‘Nuff said…

I attended a birthday dinner at a new Italian place, Fiore, in Brooklyn. I was shocked to find that thefiore-small.jpg only vegan options were salad, and the spaghetti with tomato sauce entreé. In New York City – especially in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I expect the restaurants to not only be smart enough to cater to the burgeoning vegan population (if not simply as an intelligent financial decision), but to be sensitive to general customer feedback of informed customers. After my meal of pasta and salad, I kindly suggested to a manager that, “my meal was tasty, and it would be fantastic if you added a few more vegan options to the menu – like a grilled portabello cap, or mushroom ravioli, or pasta primavera.” With all of the amazing vegan sausages and meat alternatives, dairy alternatives and veg-friendliness of traditional Italian food in general, I expected anything but the response I got. Not “thanks for the feedback” or “we value our customers, so we’ll see what we can do”. In a defensive tone, she said: “Portobellos cause cancer”. What? Excuse me? In an establishment serving up tons of conventional, hormone-ridden, pesticide-pumped ribs, beef, chicken, lamb, cheese, and butter – you’re telling me that portobello mushrooms cause cancer? Needless to say, I was so caught off guard that I was at a loss for words.

After a few hours of research, I’ve discovered that this is total nonsense, of course. Not only that, but the Stanford Cancer Center has recipes for portobellos on their website. Go figure. In fact, mushrooms contain selenium, potassium, copper, and B-complex vitamins, and are purported to have anti-cancer properties. Vegans have been shown to have 40% less chance of getting cancer, and meat and dairy products have been shown to cause cancer. There are mushrooms, that if eaten raw, have certain carcinogenic toxins (that cook or wash off). My only explanation for this ridiculous response of hers is that she was so offended by my vegan request that she said the first terrible thing that came to her mind.

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So in the spirit of the slandered portobello, I give you a plethora of mushroom recipes from our friends at Post Punk Kitchen:

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  • Fran

    As a post note, I came across your blog while trying to find info. on portobellos and carcinogenic effects. I appreciate your letting people make comments to your blog even if they disagree. I would like to retract the part where I said you shouldn’t have been shocked, I cannot tell you how to feel. I just disagree with your reaction. I hope you do find more vegan restaurants popping up in your area. Again, while I am not a vegan, I would like to be able to have the choice to eat at a vegan restaurant where I live… maybe some day.

  • Fran

    I’m not an expert but I did read in a health magazine similar to what Phil posted. I forget if cooking makes it worse or not. I think anything has the possibility of being carcinogenic b/c certain things affect people differently. I personally won’t be eating portobellos because I think I can live without them since I’m not a vegan. I personally feel if you expect more variety with regard to vegan dishes, you should patronize a vegan restaurant or write a letter of suggestion to the owner/manager of a restaurant you would like to see feature more vegan dishes. I don’t think you should’ve been shocked by the manager’s reaction, yeah, it was kind of rude, but you don’t own/run the restaurant. Sometimes I feel if people don’t get what they want merely b/c they suggest it, they throw a fit or it rubs them the wrong way which is understandable but the world doesn’t always revolve around what we want when we want it.

  • Phil

    Actually crimini and portobello mushroom are of the genus of mushroom called Agaricus. Agaricus mushrooms contain the compound hydrazine agaritine. The compounds labeled hydrazines are well documented as carcinogenic. In fact somewhere around 80% of hydrazine compounds have been proven in laboratory conditions to cause cancer/tumor formation. Also it should be noted that the chemical gyromitrin is found in mushrooms of this family. Gyromitrin is metabolized by the body to MMH which is a known carcinogen.

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  • Michael

    Well said.

    I wonder if the commenter can imagine themselves saying something similar if they were living during the time when human slavery was widely practiced and supported by the dominant volue system.

    Not to mention this absurd notion that somehow it’s more complicated to be vegan than not. How is it more complicated to live without supporting the systematic slavery and murder of other living beings? It’s so sad that the machines of agribusiness have smoothed the process of slaughter into something so transparent that people think it’s somehow more complicated or a burden to take a position of abolition in regards to non-human animal rights.

  • joshuakatcher

    You think I don’t understand that most of our culture is systematically justifying the oppression of non-human animals? By no means do I expect most people to share a similar value system – I don’t have this blog because I’m under some illusion that everyone is vegan. Wouldn’t it be sort of useless if that were the case? You “certainly don’t begrudge” my opinions? What kind of thing is this to say? That I have the approval of someone who subscribes to the dominant cultural values?

    This has to be one of the most patronizing comments I’ve gotten, although it could appear subtle to some. Veganism isn’t about “me and my choice”. This is not a consumer choice, or personal choice issue, it’s a social justice issue. There are individuals who, because they can not say in a culturally recognized and accepted language “I do not want to be treated this way” are tortured and killed. Cries and attempts at moving away from sources of pain are not recognized as ‘valid’ in non-humans. 10 Billion farm animals are raised and slaughtered every year and there is little thought given to the fact that they have feelings, they suffer, they feel pain and fear, and people are complicit in this abuse, usually without knowing it.

    Every time I leave my apartment, and in every waking moment I understand deeply that the rest of the world does not revolve around my decision. That is exactly why I am doing this.

    Watch this video.

  • Levi Gonzalez

    If you make a choice to be vegan, i think you have to unerstand that the rest of the world doesnt revolve around that decision. I support the ethics and politics behind that decision, but dont kid yourself, its complicated… and you cant expect everyone to share your value system. That said, I certainly dont begrudge you airing your opinions about it.

  • joshuakatcher

    Pat, is that a proposition? Forever is a long time, you might get tired.

  • Pat

    Fuck you, forever.

  • Meaghan

    I also make it a point to thank restaurants if they carry a vegan option. I cant believe they were so rude! Carnivores will say anything to make sure their meat sales are up!
    The nerve!

  • Matt!

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

  • Marisa

    Well, I’m glad something as lovely as this post could come out of my vegan-unfriendly selection of bday venues. :)

  • Jason Rakowski

    Good Layout and design. I like your blog. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. .

    Jason Rakowski