by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
April 17, 2005
ADVENTURES IN VEGETARIAN TAXIDERMY
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- York: Hello, and welcome to Mark York Kitchen Adventures. I'm Mark York and this is my kitchen.
Today, I'm joined by David Taylor, noted vegetarian taxidermist and activist.
Taylor: Hello, Mark.
York: Hi, David. Vegetarian taxidermy. That's a new one on me. How does that work?
Taylor: Well, let's say you've just enjoyed a particularly good vegetarian meal, like vegetarian lasagna or tofu and curd pizza, and you want to commemorate the experience. How would you do that?
York: Well, actually I'm not--
Taylor: That's right, you'd have the vegetable stuffed so you could display it for family and friends to admire.
York: But didn't I already eat it?
Taylor: That's right.
York: So how do I stuff it and save it for later?
Taylor: Believe it or not, that little problem set us back for six months. Then we came up with a new solution. We stuff a replica of the vegetable.
York: A replica?
Taylor: Sure. We take a vegetable of a similar look and size, empty out the seeds and flesh, which we save for later - can't let that go to waste, can we? - and then fill it and close it up. And then the client has an exact replica of the scrumptious vegetable they just enjoyed.
York: What kind of vegetables do you prefer to work with?
Taylor: Oh, we especially enjoy working with your larger vegetables, like pumpkin, squash, eggplants. Tomatoes are okay as well.
York: Aren't tomatoes technically a fruit?
Taylor: I try to avoid that "in the box" thinking. It burdens our understanding of vegetables and our ability to do good quality work for our clients. It's just one more example of Corporate America trying to prevent us from achieving our true artistic expression.
York: Achieving your true... ? How does Corporate America benefit by making you call a tomato a vegetable?
Taylor: You know how they are.
York: Apparently I don't.
Taylor: They're afraid of art and the truth it speaks.
York: What kind of truth can you get from a vegetable?
Taylor: Vegetables encourage us to return to Mother Earth and embrace her energies. Corporate America is afraid of people turning their backs on their materialistic ways.
York: I... see. What about the way a vegetable is raised? I'm sure a vegetarian activist such as yourself must have some preference about that.
Taylor: Absolutely, Mark. We find that organic vegetables are the easiest and best to work with. They come from the earth and don't put any nasty pesticides or fertilizers into the ecosystem. Our business is to celebrate the best the Earth has to offer, so obviously we have to use subjects that celebrate Mother Earth's giving spirit.
York: Hmm. And what kind of filler do you use?
Taylor: We use a combination of non-expanding polystyrene foam and a two-part petroleum based epoxy.
York: Two-part... ? Never mind. So what do you do if a client wants to have a vegetable stuffed from a meal six weeks previously, or they live five states away.
Taylor: We ask them to provide us with several photos of the vegetable in question, and we'll locate one that closely resembles the subject.
York: (Chuckles) Or they could just take the photo and have it framed.
Taylor: A picture? Why would someone want a picture of a vegetable? That's crazy. A picture is just a brief snapshot of a memory. A stuffed vegetable allows a person to experience the texture and weight and smell of their stuffed vegetable.
York: What does a stuffed vegetable smell like?
Taylor: Well, for the first few months, it smells like non-expanding polystyrene foam and two-part petroleum based epoxy. So we discourage the owners from smelling their new vegetables too deeply.
York: So if you're a vegetarian taxidermist --
Taylor: And activist.
York: And activist - how do you feel about your fellow taxidermists who deal with animals?
Taylor: They're killers and murderers.
York: But they didn't actually kill the animals, the hunters did.
Taylor: But they provide an opportunity for the hunter to glorify their murder of animals.
York: So you're opposed to the consumption of any meat product.
Taylor: That's right. But a life without meat doesn't mean you can't enjoy different cuisines. Why, for example, I've got a great recipe for vegetarian haggis. It involves rolled oats, several different grains, and soybeans.
York: But that's not even haggis. Haggis is sheep intestines, stomach, liver, and other parts. By its very definition, haggis is made from sheep organs. It's like cooking a slab of tofu and rolled oats and calling it a vegetarian steak.
Taylor: Actually, now that you mention it... .
York: Get out of my kitchen!