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I was looking at the menu of Candle 79 - a vegan, organic restaurant in Manhattan. One of the items on the menu is titled:

Live Tomato Zucchini Lasagna - cashew cheese, marinated wild mushrooms, tomato sauce, basil, pine nut pesto.

What could the 'live' possibly imply? What might it mean?

Since the restaurant is vegan, nothing is actually alive in the traditional sense...

  • You'd be better off calling them and asking them :) – Ming Mar 24 '15 at 1:40
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    First off: yum. Second: perhaps live means uncooked or raw? Using raw tomatoes and zucchini in conjunction with cooked sauce to provide an al dental texture normally found in non vegan noodles? – Isaac Kotlicky Mar 24 '15 at 1:41
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    ... Vegans eat living things... plants are alive. – Catija Mar 24 '15 at 1:50
  • Or perhaps it's whipped up "live" at the table, in "dinner and a show" fashion. – Ecnerwal Mar 24 '15 at 2:03
  • Live might just mean exciting. – GdD Mar 24 '15 at 13:17
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I'm pretty sure the word "live" means that it's raw and uncooked. I found a recipe for Raw Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna that's very similar to the menu item you describe. It uses zucchini "noodles", cashew "ricotta", along with marinated mushrooms, and tomato sauce to make a raw and meatless "lasagna". The only apparent difference is that the recipe calls for spinach pesto instead of pine nut pesto.

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While Ross Ridge's answer of "raw" is pretty likely, an alternative possibility is that the food contains some "live" culture, something fermented and still active. A culture that is active is sometimes referred to as "live" - mostly like a yoghurt, or pickles, or fermented drink. The lasagna itself is not likely to be fermented, but it might contain an ingredient or two that is.

In this recipe, either the cashew cheese or the marinated mushrooms might have a live culture involved, since both cheeses and pickles can be fermented. Or even the tomato sauce, some of the old traditional sauce recipes were fermented, since it helped preserve the food.

Food with live cultures is becoming more common, as some people believe they contribute to health (think probiotics), and increasing technology gives people the tools to do so safely.

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