I’ll admit, when Fred told me to meet him at the Greater Boston Buddhist Cultural Center in Cambridge, I was skeptical. I don’t try to force my pighead-eating ways on vegetarians, as much as it saddens me to know that they’re missing out on the sweet pleasures of dining on the animal kingdom, and I tend not to cook much flesh at home these days, but I’d be hard-pressed to tell you about any vegetarian restaurants I particularly like. But the little homespun canteen inside the Buddhist Center was a total surprise.
It’s the only place I’ve ever eaten food that tastes like my mom’s cooking. Not remotely like it — JUST like it. With a forkful of those turnip cakes in my mouth, or some of those mustard greens or pressed tofu, and my eyes closed, I can almost hear her asking whether I’ve practiced violin yet or why I didn’t get the highest score on the calculus test.
Which is to say: it’s really, really good. I could eat an entire childhood’s worth of meals here.
(It’s kind of ironic that I would find my mom’s cooking at this vegetarian restaurant. She never shies away from adding bacon to anything. And in fact, her turnip cakes almost always have bacon in them. But there must be some other magic Mom-ingredient that I’ve never found in the cupboard. And that’s probably why I never try to cook any of her food at home; it just never tastes the same.)