Wednesday, January 28, 2009

On the term 'meat substitute' or 'fake meat'

This started out as a comment on e's post, but it got too big. Also, I'm not saying anything about her use of the phrase... if we recall I use the phrase in an important way in my Gobo post.

So I think I'm beginning to sour on the phrase 'fake meat'. Here's a bit of a genealogical explanation first. I love tempeh. If anyone knows this it's K, because for a year every time we cooked I was insistent that we cook tempeh tacos. Now, when I was doing this I wasn't a vegetarian. I wasn't thinking that these were anything other than a delicious taco. This is what gets to the real problem for me. I think dividing meals into vegetarian and non-vegetarian has made some people think about things in a really dumb way. People who would be happy to order fettuccine alfredo will refuse to go to a 'vegetarian' restaurant, and that's just crazy.

Tempeh does more than 'hold its own', it is delicious. (btw I LOVE the Tempeh reuben they have at Brooklyn Label.) And, like anything else, it's also bad if used improperly. I think that calling it fake meat turns people off for some really stupid or irrational reason. Now, I had a pretty medicore/bad seitan Phily cheesteak at quantum leap. This isn't because seitan is meat for morons, it is because seitan doesn't belong in that sandwich (or because they used shitty seitan, which is what I think was actually going on). It's not any different than how a nice arugula, apple, walnut salad would be ruined by a dollop of sloppy joe.

1 comment:

k said...

i think something like tempeh should just be called tempeh, because it is pretty hard to pass tempeh off as any kind of meat (corned beef? no, it is a tempeh reuben). but when it is seasoned/manufactured to look/taste like a very specific meat, then i think "fake meat" or "meat substitute" is more appropriate than "ground soy" or "seitan sliced and seasoned exacty like beef".

that said, i forgot to mention that i think angelica kitchen relies too heavily on "fake meat"/soy products. i like to avoid them where possible and they make it a little difficult.

(tempeh is okay with me because it's fermented and full of goodness)