One thing I know: The chicken wing is a beautiful thing and ought to be consumed.
One other thing I know: My girlfriend is a vegetarian and expects me to follow suit.
Still one more thing I know: I thought I had a problem
Thought, that is.
Can you imagine my elation upon finding a suitable meatless stand-in for the pride of Buffalo?
Last Tuesday my benevolent female accomplice, well aware of how loath I am to leave the couch, drugged me with a cocktail of bourbon, NyQuil, and Red Bull. She called it love. What followed was a trembling and terrifying hallucination of which I do not recall much, except the snow. Oh the snow!
A scent. The madness jerked to a vicious stop.
“Peter these are seitan wings.”
“Witch, what devilry is this?” I whimpered.
“Peter, I am no witch. I love you. Seitan is wheat gluten, also called wheat meat, mock duck, gluten meat, or simply gluten. It is a food made from gluten, the main protein of wheat. It is made by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch dissolves, leaving insoluble gluten as an elastic mass which is then cooked before being eaten. In that last way, it is just like meat.”
“Oh,” I marveled at how smart and pretty she is. I wasn’t listening, but I have no doubt that her words were smart and pretty in their own right.
“Peter, note the presentation. You see a large pile of glistening orange strips. You see a smaller pile of celery. You see two plastic cups, each filled with white substances, apparently of the dairy family. All this, you see on an oval plate.”
“You may eat.”
I watched, as if from afar, as my right hand took hold of a unit of wheat meat. It plunged the unit into one of the plastic cups. It raised the unit and delivered it to my gaping maw.
“It is happy hour.”
“I ordered you a porter beer.”
I started crying. My tongue went wild. Dashing between bits of crispy friedness and tender faux flesh. I swallowed. My stomach danced. A jig? I spied my digits. They oozed with radiant effluent.
“Give me your hand.”
The waitress, an aging dame rippling with muscle, was silent, unmoved as she delivered the requested pints to a table where a lady of significant social standing—not to mention sizable bosom—sucked the sauce from the thumb of a pale and otherwise unremarkable man.
Go to the Pyschedellicatessian at the corner of 10th and Downing between the hours of two and four. Order buffalo seitan wings ($5), extra crispy, with an extra side of bleu cheese. Ask to see a beer menu. The porter is highly quaffable.
Peter Nichols is a poet, rock climber, and vagabond originally from Toledo, Ohio.