How a Thali at Poppy Celebrates Sexual Diversity

In last week's Sexy Feast, I wrote about the faux meats at Veggie Grill, discussing the pros and cons of fake breasts. This week, I put Poppy in the spotlight, a place that strives to source its produce (and proteins) locally. Chef Jerry Traunfeld, formerly of The Herbfarm, has an herb garden right on the property. Heck, you can even eat your dinner in that herb garden.

My dining companion and I each got a ten-item thali, mine with meat and hers vegetarian. In my thali, I liked the salmon but found the duck a little too salty. The supporting cast was fantastic, including chilled fennel blossom soup (my favorite "bite" of the night) and the watermelon and lime pickles. Even better, though, was the vegetarian thali, which showed that vegetables don't need to mimic meat to be appealing. The "mains" in this thali were summer corn cakes with pepper-pumpkin seed sauce, chanterelles, and feta, as well as goat cheese-stuffed squash blossoms with heirloom tomatoes--both items seasonal and delicious.

So what do Poppy's thalis teach us about sex?

It's all about the celebration of diversity.

As with my thali dinner at Travelers Thali House (in which Sexy Feast focused on diversity of sexual positions), Poppy's tray with small portions provided diverse pleasure. Eating in the aftermath of the political conventions of the past two weeks, I was appreciating diversity in a broader way.

Visually, there were stark differences in diversity between the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention. While television crews carefully panned the audience in search of non-white faces at the RNC (and more than one commentator quipped that the few faces found belonged to arena workers, not attendees), the DNC was full of African-Americans, Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, and other people of color.

Gender-wise, the DNC was more of a celebration of women and women's empowerment. The Republican platform, which generally is all about getting the government out of people's lives, tells women what they can and cannot do with their bodies. The GOP seeks to reduce access to contraception and abortion, whereas Democrats trust women to make their own decisions about their sexual health. Women's rights are an important part of the Democratic platform. In fact, the first bill President Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, ensuring that women receive the same pay as men for the same jobs.

And in the "invisible" issue, this year marked a meaningful step toward inclusion and affirmation of the GLBT community at the DNC. While the GOP is rabidly anti-gay (alienating Log Cabin Republicans, whose existence I'll never understand), major DNC speakers like Michelle Obama, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, and Barack Obama himself affirmed same-sex relationships, while the platform supports gay marriage for the first time.

Members of the GLBT community weren't just talked about; some did the talking on the DNC stage. Among the higher profiled: retiring Representative Barney Frank and aspiring Senator Tammy Baldwin. Lesser-known but no less powerful in message was Jared Polis, a gay father and Congressman who proclaimed that "diversity is America's strength." (Watch the clip and you'll see that Newman approves.) All this led self-identified pansexual State Representative Mary Gonzalez of Texas (yes, Texas!), a former Republican, to proclaim that the DNC was "a space that felt like home." The DNC experience to her was affirming and empowering.

It's power to the people in our state of Washington, where with November's vote, we can be the first state in which the public mandates marriage equality. Poppy's Traunfeld has been doing his part to support GLBT issues, such as his support of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. As with his diversity of thalis and diversity within those thalis, it's time to celebrate diversity of people as well.

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