Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.

CP: I am convinced that you are fonder of me since I renounced my vegetarian ways.

RN: Who wouldn't be? Remember, everything's better with bacon.

CP: Even a tofu scramble, right? Seriously, I still eat veggie burgers, but I may top one with some roasted turkey.

RN: I can't help but equate a Gardenburger with punishment.

CP: I feel the same way about this newfound foodie craze for organ meats and various animal-head parts, cooked medium rare. No gracias.


RN: I suspect that you would flip for the beef tongue tacos at the Chef Shack, if you didn't know you were consuming cow's tongue, or the pristine grass-fed beef tartare at Heartland, if I sold it as a chilled spread and left it at that. The lamb brain at Saffron might be a tougher sell.

CP: Impossible dream is more like it. When I tucked into a big plate of fried clams on Cape Cod this summer, it was probably good that I don't know precisely how they were derived. Everyone at the place -- Mac's Shack in Wellfleet -- was raving about the raw oysters, but I refrained from slurping any briny boogers on the half-shell. Was I in error?

RN: Heavens to Jacques Pepin, yes. You were in one of the nation's great oyster regions, and you didn't partake? For shame. I may have to arrange for an intervention, possibly at Oysterfest at Meritage on Sept. 30.

CP: Baby steps. It was easy enough being a tofu-phile for all those years. I enjoyed being a lot of extra trouble anytime someone was cooking for me and table full of carnivores. Then I grew tired of hearing the same line at a restaurant all the time: "Chef can prepare you a nice pasta primavera."

RN: At least you weren't a vegan. Forget about forgoing that incredible smoked beef long rib at Butcher & the Boar, or the veal ragu over pappardelle at Bar La Grassa. How anyone could willingly part with the god-given glory of dairy and eggs is beyond my comprehension.

CP: Hey, some of my best friends are vegan. But in the 14 years also known as my cheese-quesadilla period I was neither gluten-free nor lactose-averse. In fact, I derived most of my protein from cottage cheese, yogurt and ice cream.


RN: At least you weren't eating cottage cheese quesadillas. Or were you?

CP: For you, is it "just not dinner" if it ain't got meat?


RN: Not necessarily. During tomato season, I could live on Green Zebra-and-mayonnaise sandwiches, although a few slices of extra-crisp Nueske's wouldn't hurt.

CP: I can hear the line now: I'm a vegetarian, but I do eat bacon.

E-mail: witheringglance@startribune.com Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib