Monday, September 07, 2015

VeganMoFo Day 7: Beano Comics and English "Fry Up"


Today's MoFo Prompt: "Make / eat something inspired by a book or film."

This prompt was hard for me! I'm not a big movie person, and I'm also not a great reader. I mean, I do read, but it's usually yoga philosophy or articles from the New York Times magazine... not really foodie stuff. I thought about doing an Ayurvedic meal in honor of the Yoga Sutras. This year I also read "Twelve Steps to a More Compassionate Life" - but I already blogged about a meal inspired by that book. Right now I am reading "Rin Tin Tin," which I am enjoying, but I wasn't really in the mood for a bowl of kibble for dinner. I also read "Peace is Every Step" recently, which has a section about eating and chewing in silence with no distractions... but somehow I wasn't feeling called to blog about that experience right now. 

So, I got to thinking about other "literary" influences. Then I thought about Tintin books, which I read over and over and over as a kid. Surely there were some good meals in those books? Or was it just Captain Haddock drinking and people smoking opium? Then I remembered my first trip to Europe.

just look at that line-up of all-male protagonists. 

I was 12 years old when my dad was invited to participate in a scientific event of some sort, over in Denmark. My parents made the most of it, and turned it into a European family vacation. It was a huge eye-opening and world-expanding experience for me! On that trip, I became aware of two life-changing phenomena: candy bars from other countries, and comic books from other countries. 

1981
My brother and me reading comics on the staircase at our grandparents' house:
I love this picture so much. You can see there, on the second shelf up, the stacks of comics that my grandparents kept for us. They never updated or added to their collection, so we just re-read the same comics over and over. I have such deeply affectionate memories of all that time spent on those stairs with those comic books. Look at the way my brother's feet are all tucked in, and at my total absorption. I'm really glad this picture exists, because these are very special memories for me.


Growing up, my brother and I were both huge fans of comic books. I read Archie, Mad Magazine, Tintin, Asterix, Smurfs, Super hero comics of all sorts, Caspar the Friendly Ghost, Richie Rich, all the comics in the New Yorker magazine (even though I didn't understand most of them), the daily comics in the newspaper, and on and on and on. In college, when I spent my junior year in Italy, I found comic books to be a great way to improve my Italian skills -- the pictures really helped reinforce the unfamiliar vocabulary, and there were also many slang terms that were useful to learn. I still love my collection of Italian comic books. Part of why I subscribe to the actual hard-copy local newspaper is so that I can read the comics every day.

On that first trip to Europe, when we arrived in England, I discovered "Beanos" and "Whizzer and Chips" and "Dandy" comics. Even with my 12-year-old's budget, I could afford to stock up, and I bought as many as I could. I remember that my suitcase on the way home was heavy with comics. Already at that age, I loved to draw and I loved drawing cartoons. Those British comics had a different character on each page, often drawn by different artists. Some of those artists I liked more than others, and they were definitely a huge influence on my doodling style today. It was fun, in honor of this post, to dig out some of my now-ancient comics and revisit those drawings that I had pored over and over and over as a kid.


full English breakfast, for dinner
sorry about all these after-dark pictures. I am finding it quite grueling to try to cook dinner before dark!

So, what does all this have to do with food? I remember in all these comics, frequent allusions to things like "bangers and mash" and "candy floss " and also "Fry-ups." I was curious about these mysterious delicacies! Since then, due to the wonders of vegan bloggers from across the UK, I have seen many lovely pictures and posts about veganized Full English breakfasts (aka "Fry ups")... but I hadn't yet recreated one for myself. 

And so, I googled loads of vegan fry-ups for inspiration, and compiled this lovely dinner. I suppose it would have been even more complete if I had also prepare a simple tofu scramble to stand in for the eggs - and I even had the tofu in the fridge - but geez, this was a lot of work! Nothing was complicated, but cooking up the toast, the spinach, the mushrooms, the tomatoes, the sausages - and even just reheating the baked beans from a can - all proved to take a lot of coordinating and dirtied up a surprising number of dishes. At that point, I was slightly irritated and definitely not in the mood to make tofu scramble! Haha British friends, is there a way around this? All griping aside, I enjoyed this simple dinner, especially the cooked tomatoes, which is something I remember really enjoying on that first trip to Europe... all these years later, they still seemed so novel and unusual on a breakfast plate! 

23 comments:

  1. Oh, Amey, I loved this post! I'm sure I have 8,000,000 favorites from your blog, but this might take top billing. I also read and re-read comic books as a kid from my parents' large stack of Richie Rich, Little Lulu, Archie, and then my own additions of Strawberry Shortcake and the Flintstones. That is such a wonderful picture of you with your brother on the stairs, so engrossed in what you were reading. I especially like to think of what an effect that had on you and your 9 years of blogging sweet doodles. Hugs!

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    1. Sweet Cadry, thank you so much for such a warm comment! <3 I love that we both read and re-read all those comics. I even remember all the ads, like the one for sea monkeys, and the one where the big muscle man kicks sand in the puny man's face and steals his girlfriend. Ha ha.

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    2. I agree with Cadry! <3 Love this post.

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  2. Yes yes yes! I read all those comics too! And that picture could easily be me and my older brother reading comics at Nana & Popa's! We also grew up with a lot of fantasy art books like Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo and Wendy Pini. Then I moved on to a deep love for EC's horror series. Your love of comics makes so much sense, to the great drawings you post -Tin Tin's influence especially :) Woo I get a little excited talking about comics!

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    1. Yes! I love that your grandparents also provided comics for enjoyment! You are so right, Tintin was definitely my #1 favorite, and probably still is to this day. The artistry in his books is just so refined and precise. I love it. I love comics too!

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  3. I love candy bars from other countries, too. Discovering regional foods is one of my favorite things about traveling.

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    1. me too!! Still one of my favorite things about traveling, to this day!

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  4. YUM!! Love me some fry-ups. I only discovered the meal after reading UK vegan blogs too. But now, that's one of my favorite breakfasts! Love the adorable pic of you and your bro in the 80s!

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    1. :) It's pretty great huh? We were a couple of little twerps. We were always fighting and bickering... but as you can see, the comics brought great peace amongst warring nations.

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  5. I love this post too! My grandfather would bring home some obscure newsletters and comics from church and I would read them because I was desperate for something to read while visiting. Anybody ever read the comic Prince Valiant? Weird medieval stuff. I have several books of Bloom County and Calvin & Hobbes that I used to read in bed when I was sick and still have them. Thanks for sharing such great memories!

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    1. yes!! i would read pretty much ANYTHING in comic form. I think this may actually be true of me. When I started learning about Indian mythology, I found a line of Indian comics and read all of those instead of grown-up literature. Ha ha. I also still have pretty much any comic book I ever owned. Why would I part with them?? :)

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  6. I hardly ever comment (I know, bad blog-reader!), but I just had to after reading this post. Your description of your childhood memories, and how what was important to you then has shaped who you are today, is so deeply touching. I am vegan and I love to eat and cook, but these posts of yours would feel so moving to me even if I wasn't. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Thank you so much, Elizabeth! :) I'm so touched by your kind words!

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  7. What a great post. I used to read all those comics, plus the girlie ones like Bunty and Judy.

    For something so simple a fry up does create a lot of washing up, and stress, especially if you burn the toast...

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    1. ha ha, yes! i DID burn the toast!! ha ha. I never knew about Bunty or Judy! I wonder if I would have liked them back then. I was such a tomboy... but now it makes me a little sad to look back and see how few female characters were featured in those early influences. At least the Beanos had Minnie the Minx and she was quite a terror.

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  8. that photo on the stairs is really magic-- if I can find it so special as an outsider, I can only imagine how much it must mean to you! And look, you've got your jacket on indoors! Such a great story being told from the photo.

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  9. Very nice staging of the Fry-up photo. I like the primary colors of the plate with the primary colors of the comics, and the placement looks like you're going to read the comics at the table while you eat. What I especially love about the photo of you and Jer is that you're both so completely and utterly absorbed that you seem unaware that a picture was even being taken. In the zone!

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  10. I love this post, the memories, the beautiful photo of you two on the stairs, it is magic!
    I love a good 'big breakfast', as they are called here in Australia. Though I rarely make them at home, you are right, there are a lot of pots involved.

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  11. What a lovely post! As a Brit, I struggle to see our sweets, comics and breakfasts as exotic or exciting in any way, so it's really nice to see them through your eyes.
    My MoFo theme is breakfast, and I'm reviewing lots of cooked breakfasts, if you want to come along for a look. And yes, it is hard work making them and coordinating all the different elements!

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  12. It is so cool getting to know you through VeganMoFo! I am in love with your drawings, and this post was amazing to see where it all started - with your love of comics <3 your "fry up" looks great (I never knew it was called that - like Susan commented above, I would have just called it a big breakfast, haha).

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  13. LOVED this post and the memories!

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  14. This is the second vegetarian fry-up blog post I have seen in 2 days! I think its a sign telling me I need to try one!

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  15. You did an awesome job with that fry up Amey! And nope, there really is no way to make this whole thing come together easily unless you a) make it as a team or b) go out to get one. I was so lucky that there were three really great places to get a vegan full english within three minutes of my front door. Also, Beano brings back memories! My brother and I used to read that and I believe we were members of some kinda Beano club!!

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