Meatless Meat Lover: Kim O’Donnel
Our Q&A with author, columnist and “Mr. Sausage” expert, Kim O’Donnel
Your Name: Kim O’Donnel
Your Occupation: Journalist, author, “The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook”
Your Blog/Website: www.kimodonnel.com
Your Twitter Profile: @kimodonnel
Your Go-to food that you can’t live without: At least 1 cup of strong coffee in the morning. Garlic. Black beans. And increasingly, Lacinato kale, the variety with the black-green ruffly leaves.
Which person living or dead would you most like to have a meal with? My dad. He died way too young, at the age of 37, when I was 16. It would be wonderful to break bread with him just one more time.
What would you serve? Things he never had a chance to experience, like wild salmon, grilled on a plank – that would probably blow his mind – or roasted, with smoked paprika. Lentils—the little French du Puy variety, as a cold salad with herbs and red onion, or red, cooked until pureed, seasoned with a cinnamon stick and topped with wilted spinach. And a grain he never heard of, such as kamut or quinoa. There would be blueberries and home made ice cream.
What trait do you most deplore in our food? I hate that every time we turn around another item is being recalled due to an outbreak of any number of foodborne illnesses. That we’re getting used to numbers like 550 million (eggs) and 1 million (pounds of ground beef) and that still today, Congress is dragging its heels on S.510, the bill that would overhaul the antiquated system of food safety oversight and regulation. Why are we not storming the streets for the right to safe food?
What characteristic do you most admire in a person? Curiosity. Without it, we lose the passion for life, living, and what’s around us, what else there is to learn.
What is your best trait? When I set my mind to something, I take it on and get’er done, no matter the obstacles.
What was your favorite school lunch as a kid? On the tray in the line? It may have been the grilled cheese, but if I recall, the crust was always burned. There weren’t too many memorable dishes from the cafeteria line in the 70s.
If you could deliver five words to Congress, what would they be? Let’s make dinner, not war.
If the USDA asked you to replace the word “Organic,” what word would you use? Hmm. Tough one. I actually don’t have a problem with the word ‘organic,’ but more with its positioning in our cultural conversation. At its foundation, organic means grown and raised without chemicals, and that, in my opinion, is a standard worth aspiring to. But we’ve come to use the word as a status symbol which is unfortunate, and really the system is set up so that organic is food for the well off minority, not for the struggling majority. It’s so dang complicated and really it need not be. Because really at the end of the day, it’s a healthier choice to eat an apple – be it organic, conventional, transitional or otherwise – than to pop open a bag of chips or cheez puffs or doodly things with lots of undecipherable, hard-to-pronounce additives and preservatives listed on the back.
If you were a piece of food, what would you be? I would be a mango. Have you ever know anyone who doesn’t like one? I’ve said in the past that if there was a World Mango Day, a day when ripe mangoes were distributed in cities across the globe, particularly in war-torn parts of the world, think of the massive wave of joy that would create. Imagine: Mango = world peace.
What is your favorite indulgence? A glass of wine at sunset with time and space to reflect on the day.
What is your current state of mind? I’m thrilled about the release of my book, The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook, and I’m excited for the conversations that await with America’s home cooks about our collective relationship with meat – whether or not they eat it. I’m proud and grateful. And always, I’m living as fully as possible every day.
What is your motto? I’ve got a few but here’s one that rings true with the publication of my book: Dreams come true if you let them.