It’s the same story the crow told me, it’s the only one he knows:
Like the morning sun you come and like the wind you go.
Ain’t no time to hate, barely time to wait
Wo-oh, what I want to know, where does the time go?
Uncle John’s Band, by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia
On this day 25 years ago, on a sunny, chilly afternoon in the parking lot of the Charlotte (NC) Coliseum, I was standing next to our VW van (named “Bear”), hawking my brand new baby — The Kind Veggie Burritos Cookbook: Recipes for Touring, Tailgating, Camping, and Home.
Yes, for those of you who don’t know me, besides my dedication to the Tarot, another form of the magick I weave in the world is as a life-long Grateful Dead fan. We Deadheads usually trace our lineage back to our first show, and mine was legendary, even for the most jaded of my tribe. (For those of you who might care about such things, it was at Princeton’s Dillon Gym, April 17, 1971. Yeah. That one!).
Ever since then, I have forked over as much money and vacation time as I could swing, because to me, their music, their stunning improvisational skills (they never, ever play the same show twice), and their twirling, dancing, strange multiverse of followers who actually still believe in love and peace resonate with my deepest DNA.
My book began as a stapled-together booklet of 50 or so recipes that I’d started collecting from the food vendors who trail along with the Dead from town to town.
You see, some of those offerings could be awful, but one night I came dancing out of a concert (Greensboro, 1991). I was half-starved, since I’d rushed there after work and missed my dinner. A young Deadhead sister was selling vegetarian burritos, and I bought one. She was calling them “Kind Veggie Burritos,” meaning they were vegetarian, yes, but also kind – made with love, and heart.
It seemed like the finest thing I had ever eaten in my life, and there and then I gave up red meat and poultry forever. And I started getting really interested in the “tour food” that people were selling, to support their musical habits.
A Book Is Born
It took four years of painstaking research (ha ha!), with lots of beautiful meetings and conversations with alternative farmers, Deadhead chefs and restaurateurs, and as much food sampling as I could stand, while I collected my recipes both in person, and via that newfangled Internet thing.
It also included a rude sideswipe from a young woman who grabbed my idea and got her big-wig daddy to fast-track her copycat collection to a real publishing house, before I could shop my own book around. (I saw it all unfold on news.net, if anyone remembers that, so, yes, I am sure).
However, as hurt as I was at the time, like so many setbacks, it turned out to be a gift in disguise.
Thanks to her, I decided to skip “straight” publishing, and do it myself. That gave me complete artistic license, so you’ll see my funny little artwork, the beautiful Jerry cover my friend Hal made for me, and all the concert photos by my husband John (with a few other donations from friends).
The other advantage, of course, is that 25 years later, it’s not out of print, but alive and well, with copies I personally ship with love, all printed in small, Earth-friendly batches by friends at a local Durham business.
But even more importantly, after being stung by that person’s unkindness, I dried my tears and decided to respond with generosity instead.
I made my book literally an act of kindness – all profits after expenses go to charity: the Rex Foundation, which is the Grateful Dead’s own philanthropic endeavor, and Seva – co-founded by Dr. Larry Brilliant and the late Ram Dass, and board of directors including by the likes of Wavy Gravy and Bob Weir.
Since that timid parking lot beginning (I was definitely not used to accosting passersby to sell stuff), my confidence and my book have grown a bit, and now it’s 125 or so pages of vegetarian goodies for breakfast, munchies, soups, dinner entrees, and, of course, kind veggie burritos. There is one, tiny chapter of “Meat as Well,” a play on one of the Dead’s bouncy little tunes called “Might as Well.” Most of the book is fun-loving that way.
Anyway, this is the long, strange story of my first (so far!) book, which turns 25 today.
Happy Birthday, Kind Veggie Burritos!
ps – in the shadow of the pandemic crisis, I have decided I will soon be obliged to suspend sales for a while – just can’t risk those trips to the P.O. So this post today is not a sales pitch. It’s just to share something that has made me very happy and I hope it might you, too.
Stay safe and healthy.
Wishing you peace, love, and grateful good vibes.