Thursday, September 24, 2009

Make: Tasteless Treats

This week we bring you the delightful Meredith Ethrington and recipes from her mecca of taste-free, texture-full cuisine: The Sandpaper Puffpastry Bakery! Time to sing a vegan ode to these clue-free treats and get down, or something like that. Spoof Gwyneth Paltrow GOOP.

POOG: Meredith, how long have you been making tasteless, gravelly but beautifully decorated and (mostly but not entirely) sugar and dairy-free baked good? What inspired you to take up the mantle of this worthy culinary cause?

Meredith Ethrington: You know, I didn't pick this route. It picked me. It was a kind of intestinal destiny. In 2003 I had six months of just DREADFUL diarrhea (which is SO hard to spell, but SO easy to get) and unbelievable gassiness. My doctor broke the news: stop eating. I explained that I LOVE eating and she conceded that if I ate cardboard-like foods I would improve significantly. It was a sad moment because I LIVE for food that tastes at all. But, I decided to embrace the necessary changes. The first time I went to the food store was disorienting. Usually someone else does it for me. But, once I got used to being there it was just, well, it was annihilating. If something was white, it was probably tasty. If it was green, it was filled with air and chloroform or something like that. If it was red, it either once lived or maybe grew on something. And, if it was packaged in plastic, well, you just can't do that anymore. I thought - why can't I find something scratchy and buff-hued with textural hints of mocha that was wrapped in a stiff, pleated ivory recycled thingy! It is really that hard? So...I did it and I thought I should share my Gastric Epiphany with the world. It took 6 weeks, but The Sandpaper Puffpastry Bakery was born in those six weeks.

POOG: What has the result been? What positive outcomes have come out?

Meredith Ethrington: Well, I've always been rail-thin and now I'm positively skeletal. It's been a great side effect of taking everything out of my food. You really don't have to diet when you take this approach. It's a lifestyle and if you follow the one rule, eat dirt, then you don't have to remember a bunch of silly little ones or count calories. And, since you're generally too weak to exercise you never have to do that either. I am just exceedingly cautious about letting any color creep into my food at all.

POOG: What are your to-die-for ingredients?

Meredith Ethrington: Well, my top ingredients would be berrit oil extract (it's really high in florid acid, stimulates the amygdala minor and can create almost the same taste as butter without the taste), guava skin (I prefer guavas from Costa Rica because it's nicer there then some other places) and Ray's Gluten/Sugar/Dairy/Chlorophyll/Salt-Free Powdery Filler (my whole Bakery would cease to exist without this miraculous substance). You can get all of these at a local health store or online.

POOG: How did you make your recipes? I mean, no one's done this before, right?

Meredith Ethrington: You know, many people have tried this at home, but haven't really capitalized on the availability of these ingredients in the way I am. My recipes were hard to come up with because people like things that taste good. It's a downside of evolution and there aren't many of those, so that's hard to grapple with on a daily basis. Because, I believe heart and soul in evolution. Especially in a spiritual mind/food/body way, from an Asian perspective, via Brooklyn and Brixton in the late 90s. But, I put myself on the mad culinary steeple chase and I had to move forward.

POOG: Is frack sugar-free? I know EVERYONE thinks that and are wrong. Maybe you can clear that up.

Meredith Ethrington: Frack is not glucose free. It's a genetic antecedant to cane. Sometimes people can digest frack however, but still not eat sugar. It's white. Even when it's brown.

POOG: Are there any especially thrilling recipes you're working on? Variations on old classics. As you know, I love El Soya Marzipanito Preservados faux Little Debbie Raisin Cakes, do you think we'll ever have a taste-free version of the real fake one?

Meredith Ethrington: I just made a version of these the other day! It was terrific, because the original was already kind of a brown/oatmeal color, I just had to find a way to get the yellow out. I LOVE El Soya Marzipanito Preservados marizipan reproductions of processed foods! It's my goal to improve on them by making foods that look like them, but have no taste at all. When I announced that I had made a fat/sugar/gluten/butter/dairy/taste free version of El Soya Marzsipanito Preservados Litte Debbie Raisin cake in the bakery every started shrieking, but in a tasteful way. One woman on 78th and 5th even slipped out of her yoga class early to try one. Luckily, everyone adores them and some people even say that it's the best thing I've ever done. "Qui sais?" as they say in Locust Valley!

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