Ital is Vital, eat like the Rastafarians… mostly because it tastes damn good!

Check out my Ital Recipes:

Ital Ackee Couscous

Ital “Chicken-less” Tomato Chicken

After a GLORIOUS two-week trip to France with my dreamy hubby, a 10 hour red-eye flight, and more cheese and wine then one should consume in TEN weeks, we felt it only fair to put something “kind” into our tummies! So the minute we got to our car and began our short ride back to Ft. Lauderdale from Miami International Airport, I pulled out the phone and “Yelp-ed” for Vegetarian food. I wanted something chock full of veggies. After filtering by the highest ratings, I stumbled upon this interesting place called “Konatas.” It just said “Vegetarian-Vegan.” Being open-minded and guided by my blind trust in fellow Yelpers, we took the exit off the 95 FWY, into a not-so-“South Beach” neighborhood called “Opa-Locka.”

We found this tiny building that couldn’t be more than 15 feet wide. The first thing I noticed upon entering through the front door, was that it was SPOTLESS! I mean like Guatemalan-Grandma-Spotless! (For those of you who don’t have an Abuelita like mine, everything in her house was white so that she could see if a speck of dirt was on any surface, and clean it off immediately!)

The walls were covered in beautiful drawings full of color, lions, and what appeared to be royal figures. Being as my Mamma taught me never to assume, I asked the young (perfectly groomed) man behind the counter what ethnicity the restaurant and his family were. He was delighted that I asked. He said that most people (such as the hipsters that ordered before us), just assume that they are Ethiopian. They even talk about it right in front of him. Ignorance is still alive, but I digress. He said that his father was born and raised in Jamaica.

So, with that curiosity of mine cleared up, I asked if they have a menu. He pointed e16d7430-2ce5-4de2-ab51-c9de96908098_zps10301887to a white board behind him and said “That is our menu.” Basically you can have a patty, soup, or a “plate”.  A  Plate consists of whatever his father felt like making that day. But guaranteed, its 100% Vegan.

We ordered and as soon as our food was ready, an older man emerged from the kitchen door with his dreads under a large cap, the biggest smile I’ve seen in a long time, and an accent that even I (who have a pretty good ear) had a hard time understanding. He came out to talk to us because he heard us asking questions about their culture, the food, and why they are vegan.

63ad1fcd-70cc-455a-accf-02c4f5914824_zpsf7b7bd07He explained to me that he does not cook in anything aluminum because it seeps into the food that we eat, then becomes part of our body. He is a Rastafarian, and follows the culinary rules of “Ital Food”, meaning “Vital.” It is rooted in the idea that we only put into our bodies what the earth provides for us. The reason the restaurant is so impeccable is because it is part of the pride he takes from beginning to end of the food preparation process. That belief, and fearlessness of some hard work, has made his restaurant one of the few in the state of Florida to not have ONE SINGLE health inspection violation in over 5 years!

I’ve developed a friendship and admiration for this man and his family, and have plunged into learning more about the Rastafarian culture of food. I credit him with the inspiration of these recipes, and will always visit his restaurant whenever we return to Miami!

Peace be the Journey!

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