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Jonathan Kauffman, a James Beard Award-winning writer, is returning to Seattle. The former restaurant critic at Seattle Weekly, he will be at West Seattle’s Westside School to discuss his new book, Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat on Tuesday, February 27th at 7:30 pm.
Jonathan recently sat down with Jonathan Shipley, Town Hall’s Marketing Manager, to discuss lentil casseroles, vegetarian cults, and the horror of carob.
JS: You lived in Seattle and now live in San Francisco. What’s different between each city’s food cultures?
JK: They’re really similar. There’s more money in San Francisco and so there are more high-end restaurants. The Chinese population is greater here, so there are better and more Chinese restaurants in San Francisco. Seattle’s got better seafood and, since it’s not as expensive as San Francisco, there’s more willingness to experiment in Seattle. They can try new things.
JS: What do you miss about Seattle?
JK: My family and my friends.
JS: What don’t you miss about Seattle?
JK: I like sunlight. I like that I don’t have to take Vitamin D supplements anymore.
JS: What inspired this new book of yours?
JK: I was having a meal in Seattle at The Sunlight Café on Roosevelt. I was being served steamed vegetable with tahini dressing, and whole wheat pastries, and veggie burgers and I was hit with a sudden sense of nostalgia. I grew up in the middle of Indiana. How did I grow up eating this food? How did lentil casseroles and stir fried vegetables with tofu and South African stews get there?
JS: What hippie food is your favorite?
JK: My reset meal is a big wok full of stir fried vegetables and tofu over brown rice.
JS: What hippie food do you detest?
JK: Carob is horrifying.
JS: Who was the most interesting interview subject in your book?
JK: Former members of the Source Family. They were members of a vegetarian cult in the 1960s and 70s under Father Yod. They dressed in white, lived in a mansion, were in a rock band (Ya Ho Wha 13), and earned their money off an organic vegetarian restaurant in Los Angeles. They are pretty lovely people and are very positive about their time.
JS: What fact did you uncover in the book that most delights you?
JK: Tempeh [an Indonesian dish made by deep-frying fermented soybeans] was introduced by The Farm, at one time the biggest commune in America. The Farm, still in operation in Tennessee, have made three lasting contributions to the world: tempeh, home births, and radiation detection. I totally love them.
Whether you’re into granola or sprouts, co-ops or quinoa, Town Hall looks forward to hosting Kauffman at the Westside School. Join us!