Raw Nerve

I am Raw, hear me roar.

My snarky review last week of Rawsome!, the new health food restaurant in Tempe, elicited some highly spirited response from its supporters. About 20 fiery e-mails, in fact.

The outrage wasn't surprising, considering the fact that being a raw foodie (just as it sounds, cooking anything is verboten) requires cultlike dedication. It takes conviction to give up real hamburgers for a clammy raw pulp of sunflower seeds, zucchini, tomato, celery, flaxseed, garlic, onion, red pepper and poultry seasoning. A touch of crazy comes in handy, too.

An e-mail from Amy suggested that maybe I get a clue before writing anything ever again. "I will not mention your limitations here, as I assume you are already aware of them," she sympathized. "I am not that familiar with a raw food died [sic]. In fact I have no information on the subject. You sound like you have never been out of Phoenix and are under 25, which might be a reasonable demographic for your paper but is not much in the way of qualifications for a restaurant reviewer. Whether or not this is true is not important."

Thanks for the solid feedback, Amy.

A new buddy, Bob, proposed that my inability to appreciate such specialties as dehydrated seed "pizza" crust or mock sour cream fashioned from pine nuts, water, lemon juice and olive oil wasn't really my fault. "The foods are delicious once you clear yourself of the poisons of cooked food. (I trust you know that all cooked food is poison)," he wrote. "As far as the taste, that is easy to explain. The standard American cooked diet is very addicting, not unsimilar to drugs."

As for my concern — and noted nutritionists' concerns — that a raw food diet can lead to malnutrition, Bob insists that "it is not uncommon for people on this diet to live in excess of 100 years (some over 140) with no disease." Bob, by the way, proudly adds that he weighs 231 pounds and has "not lost weight for a long, long time."

My favorite e-mail, though, came from Steve, who penned a poem in my honor. A choice stanza: "It apparently doesn't matter to She/That people throughout the country/Are dropping like flies/'Cause they can't stay away from the fries. And what about the meat? It smells so good and tastes so neat. Sure it gives us a big belly/And makes us as soft as jelly. But who the hell cares about getting sick?"

Raw, shucks. — Carey Sweet


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