Once again it is 2058, the year of the Great Bagel Famine and concurrently also the year of the Great Dairy Famine. Most of the cows have just given up at this point. They are too nutrient-deprived to produce milk, as are all other milk-producing animals (‘cept humans, thanks to some handy bio-engineering). As a result, the shelves are not just devoid of bagels, they are also devoid of cheeses. Most notably those vast bins traditionally filled with myriad different cream cheeses found in NYC delis, now empty, or full of thin, unsatisfying wafers which dry out one’s mouth and taste like kleenex.
After successfully pioneering her first bagels out of alternative ingredients in her parents’ pantry, Abigail knows better than to search for cream cheese at her local deli or grocery emporium. Instead, she gets out all of the ingredients in her parents’ cold storage: a cauliflower, two shriveled brown globes, and various root vegetables that have seen better days. A look of intense concentration comes over her young features as she looks at the motley assortment. Undaunted, Abigail goes back to her research, rifling through various alternative recipes from the early 2000s.
Half an hour later, she is ready. She breaks out her Dad’s home cement mixer, commandeered for kitchen usage as food processors are hard to come by these days. The sound of its whirring echoes throughout the pod units, adding to the din of generators and data projectors. Abigail pauses and glances into the mixer. Looks okay…she pauses the machine, dips her finger in, and takes a taste. Hmm…needs work. She tosses in salt and some acid components and tries it again.
“Much better.” After pouring the sauce-like mixture into a large ceramic container, she places it in the fridge and goes to bed, rather too excited to sleep.
In the morning, Abigail rolls out of bed and sprints to the cooling unit, pulling back the cover on her container. Her parents come through the doorway, looking pleased with themselves.
“Oh! Let’s see now,” says her dad, coming over and peering into her container. “You managed it!”
Abigail smiles modestly.
“We thought you might,” says her mom. “So we scrounged up a treat.”
She places a wrapped package on the table, next to the bagels and cream cheese. Abigail sucks in her breath.
“Where did you get this?” she asks, staring wide-eyed at the moist, silky layers of smoked fish lying sandwiched between sheets of waxed paper. “I thought fish were extinct.”
Her dad holds his finger up to his mouth. “There are some very well-preserved gourmet items still floating around the dark web, if you know where to look. We won’t be able to get it often, so best enjoy now.” He winks at her, and they all move to the table which seems to bend under the weight of its riches.
Abigail loads up her sliced bagel, adorning the top with thick pieces of lox, just like she always imagines Gran doing that first time. She takes a bite and closes her eyes, savoring this moment to pass on to her grandchildren, who she hopes will have this bounty returned to them, someday.
- 1.5 c cooked cauliflower (when packed)
- 2 cloves cooked garlic or 1 tsp garlic (optional)
- 1.5-2 tsp sea salt
- 3 tb lemon or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tb grassfed gelatin
- 3 tb tapioca flour or arrowroot starch
- ⅓ c coconut cream (solid part of chilled coconut milk)
- 2 tb coconut oil
- 2 tb olive or avocado oil
- For veggie cream cheese:
- 1 minced carrot
- 3 minced radishes
- 2 tb minced parsley
- 1 minced scallion/spring onion
- (or any combo of raw veggies as desired)
- Steam cauliflower through along with garlic cloves.
- Blend/food process with other ingredients until as smooth as possible. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
- If making veggie cream cheese, add chopped veggies and incorporate into mixture.
- Pour mixture into a parchment-lined container and refrigerate overnight.
- Serve with crudites, on bagel, etc.