In which you are what you eat and I am a mystery

I very nearly ended today’s earlier post with a suggestion that I might take a couple of days off. I deleted it on account of no I fucking won’t, so of course here I am a few hours later with a second post for the day.

We are doing a vegetarian week this week. This is not as big of a deal as it might sound; while I am very much a fan of meat and remaining a vegetarian for my entire life is not really something I’m interested in doing, I’ve been eating veggie burgers for lunch for like two weeks and I enjoy eating damn near everything vegetarians eat. So a week of being a vegetarian is really not a terribly difficult thing to do.

At least, when I’m paying attention.

The boy wanted McDonald’s for lunch today, and I couldn’t think of a good reason to tell him no, so we went. I toned down what I usually get on account of I’m trying to pay more attention to eating better in general (yes, I know McDonald’s is not progress in the “eat better” department, but at least I had less of it) and I swear to you that it took until well after I was finished with my lunch to realize that a McDonald’s Daily Double is made of meat.

Which, you need to understand here, this is a category error on my part, and not me just forgetting that I was a vegetarian this week. There’s been at least one vegetarian week where there was pizza at work and I absent-mindedly had a slice of pepperoni without thinking about it. This isn’t that. This is a McDonald’s Daily Double does not process in my brain as a cheeseburger, and it did not even occur to me to think that those two delicious, peppery patties were meat. What the fuck are they? They’re Daily Double patties, apparently. Made of what? Love and cholesterol. Sure as hell not meat.

I’m a lot of things, but “bright” ain’t one of them.

7:45 PM, Tuesday June 16th: 2,134,973 confirmed cases and 116,854 Americans dead.

In which tofu is delicious

…okay, none of the small number of vegans I know are like this at all, and at least one of them is an outstanding cook, but I have to admit I was laughing so hard I was crying by about halfway through this video– enough to get it posted to the blog instead of Facebook or Twitter.

In which this is not the meat you’re looking for

IMG_1558Yes, that’s spaghetti.

But that isn’t ground beef, nor is it sausage.

Longtime readers know that I dabble with vegetarianism occasionally, and that I enjoy me a tasty boca burger from time to time.  Meat substitutes intrigue me.  Some of them are better than others, and some of them are just good on their own merits.  Boca chicken, for example, tastes enough like chicken for me, but Boca burgers don’t taste like meat at all.  They’re still good, because lots of things that don’t taste like meat are good.

Some of the Subways in Chicago had a veggie patty that was goddamn delicious, but none of the ones in Indiana seem to have it.  It’s very depressing.

Anyway, a couple of months ago I suddenly saw a bunch of articles all in a short period of time about Beyond Meat, a company that was so insistent that their plant-based meat substitutes were indistinguishable from meat that the CEO was insisting that, chemically, they actually were meat.  I can’t find any of the articles now, unfortunately, but this page on their website makes a similar claim.  Key to their definition: you have to call it “meat” because of what it is, not what it comes from.

Available at Whole Foods, starting in January.  Well, OK.  There’s a Whole Foods in town, and I’d needed an excuse to go pop in anyway, so I used part of my free day off yesterday to go check the place out.  I came home with some Beyond Beef Beefy Crumbles, which were around $5 for about 11-12 ounces.

Preparation was exactly the same as ground beef; I tossed it in a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil and sautéed it.  I made the tomato sauce from scratch, and after tasting and seasoning it a bit I tossed it into the tomato sauce and let the meat and sauce live together for a little bit.

So here’s the skinny on Beyond Meat: It looks and cooks basically exactly like meat. I don’t think anyone would look at that picture and not recognize ground beef or sausage.  And so long as you season it and put it with something, it tastes fine.  But you know how whenever you make a meat sauce with pasta, your last bite is always just the meat, because the pasta is always gone first?  Okay.  That bite’s gonna be weird.  The primary ingredient of Beyond Beef Beefy Crumbles is pea protein, and that last bite’s gonna getcha a little bit.  The texture is a little– just a little— off, still, and you can sorta taste the pea even through the tomatoes and the oregano and rosemary and thyme and all the other stuff I had in my tomato sauce.  Mixed with some spaghetti, though– basically anything else to chew on— and I would have fooled you.

Not quite perfect yet, in other words.  But I’m keeping an eye on this company, and I’m curious about their not-chicken, because for whatever reason chicken seems to be easier to fake than beef.

In which I am ambivalent

Deep_frying_chicken_upper_wingI had fried for dinner.  It doesn’t even matter what the hell was fried; the point is it was fried.

And now, half an hour later, in full accordance with prophecy, I’m contemplating vegetarianism again.  I’ve done a veggie week or two at a couple of points, and every so often I catch myself toying with the idea of trying it on a  more long-term basis.  The problem is that I like meat, and that– and I recognize that the answer to this is “cook at home more”– acquiring lunch near where I work that does not include meat is virtually impossible.  But you know what plant-based meals have never done to me?  Made me feel horrifying and gross and I’m going to die soon and like it, and my fourteen pounds of fried that I just ate are doing just that.

Ugh.  I’ve ben fatter and I’ve been thinner at various points in my life, especially over the last eight years or so where I’ve gone through at least two complete cycles of it, but right now I’m at the fatter end of the scale.  Time to start slimming down again one way or another because I am sick of this shit right now and the older I get the harder it’s going to be to reverse this on even a temporary couple-of-years level.

But goddammit, meat tastes good.  Fried tastes good.

Until the part where it makes you want to throw up.



In other news, I appear to have survived two days of Running the Building, and tomorrow is a teacher record day and there will be no kids around.  I’m only expecting to be at work for a half day but it’s possible that my boss will disabuse me of that notion later this evening.  I rather hope that he sensibly declares that he doesn’t care so long as Shit Gets Done, which is his usual MO, because I sort of have people coming over tomorrow to put in a new garage door opener.  I probably ought to actually be in the house for that.

Yesterday was startlingly easy, if tiring.  We paid for it today.  It’s not quite worth two-hours-of-ranting-and-six-thousand-words paying for it, but it was bad enough.  I’m tired as hell right now.  Time to watch TV and kill orcs.

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