Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cinnamon Buns and Working in a Non-Vegan Environment

Today, in my day off work, I am making cinnamon buns. I've been thinking about these buns for quite some time, but had not previously worked up the nerve to make them--after all, it's quite a bit of work for something that is not savory (and there's all the sugar! and EarthBalance!). However, having worked for a good few weeks at the little bakery and sandwich shop, I became a little envious of the customers who were coming in and eating enormous cinnamon buns with their morning coffee. Sweet Celebrations makes cinnamon buns that are approximately six to seven inches in diameter. These buns are enormous, but also, apparently, delicious. I started thinking about cinnamon buns, and realized that I hadn't had one in over thirteen years. I remember eating one at Cinnabon, before I became too self-conscious about my eating habits and cut out most fats and sugars out of my diet. When I became vegan, I embraced the fats and sugars (and vegetables!), but not in the form of a cinnamon bun. There was still the issue of the time and effort involved in making them; I knew that I could't exactly go out and buy one because where, pray tell me, am I supposed to get vegan cinnamon buns in Knoxville?!
The envy of the customers at my work, and pride in my baking skills finally took over, and so the dough is rising for the cinnamon buns. If they turn out exceptionally well, I just might take some in to work and show them off to my boss and co-workers.

This brings me to the topic of working in an environment that is not altogether hostile to vegans, but is definitely not vegan-friendly. Every sweet that we make at Sweet Celebrations has dairy butter and milk; with the exception of two items on the sandwich menu, every lunch item has meat--and some have several different kinds of it. We also have a large cooler of ice cream and gelato. The little shop is famous for its quiche and reuben sandwiches. Working there full-time means that I either have to bring my lunch or combine the few ingredients that are vegan to create meals: sometimes, I have a veggie wrap, and sometimes the portobello sandwich. Although I'm not bothered by the lack of options, I find myself sometimes covetous of the things that one of my co-workers brings from his other job in a gourmet kitchen; these are hand-made and long-cured salamis, hand-made chocolates, and other things. I don't necessarily regret not trying those things, but I want the interaction that surrounds them--I want the communal experience of sampling a delicacy and discussing it. I suppose that until this point, I have been quite sheltered from the omnivorish world, and able to make it a disgusting or risible realm--nothing of which I'd want to partake. As Matt and I would say, "Who eats better than we do?" And now, now that I am constantly around people who eat tasty food, sometimes it becomes a task to remind myself that their food comes with a heavy price. Is this a fault or flaw on my part, to momentarily waver? I don't think so.

There are things to be grateful for, too. The main chef at Sweet Celebrations used to be vegan and is sensitive to my desires. Whenever he's not too busy, he whips up lunch for me--things that are not available on the normal menu. I brought in Vegenaise and a few blocks of tofu at his request, and he told met hat he'll try to broaden the range of food that I am able to eat while at work. Yes, yes, yes.

The dough for the cinnamon buns has risen, so off to roll and cover it in Earth Balance and sugar and cinnamon.

1 comment:

radioactivegan said...

Wow, I'm so excited to see another vegan in Knoxville. I've not heard of the bakery you work at (probably like most veg*ns around here, I tend to eat in), but you should talk to the chef about putting some of his vegan creations on the regular menu! I'm always interested in places that have food for me and for my omnivorous friends! Let me know if you ever want to meet up for some vegan foodstuffs :)