I Have Tasted the Impossible!

I grab my shirt and pull it away from me. The Manhattan skyscrapers have formed a barrier, trapping the early August humidity and dashing any hope that a breeze might dry the sweat running down my back.

“Do you think we’ll get a table?” my sister asks.

It’s 11:45am on Saturday and we’re part of a line snaking down 8th Avenue and 22nd Street. In 15 minutes, they’ll open the doors to Chelsea district’s Momofuku Nishi.

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We can already taste the succulent red meat and pan-fried char, our mouths watering at thoughts of the secret-sauce-and-blood-soaked bun.

Today, we would taste the impossible.

That’s right. Today we would sample the acclaimed brainchild of Patrick Brown, founder and CEO of California-based start-up Impossible Foods. According to all accounts, Brown had managed to create a plant-based burger that sizzled, bled and -hopefully- satisfied just like its meat-based counterpart.

Despite enjoying many bacon and cheese-smothered burgers in my day, I’ve always been a fan of veggie burgers. The ones that tasted like vegetables, that is. The more a veggie patty tried to disguise itself as meat, the more it seemed to fail.

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Until (spoiler alert) now.

Using a combination of science and more science, Impossible Foods attempted a feat no man nor chipmunk had yet mastered: Making vegetables actually mimic meat. How did they do it? Through reverse-engineering taste and including loads of something called heme. Heme is what peanut butter is to Reese’s cups, what cherry Chapstick is to a Katy Perry song, what Miss Piggy is to Kermit.

It’s the stuff that makes something what it is.

heme

Or, you know, if you want to be all LITERAL about it, it’s an “iron-containing compound of the porphyrin class that forms the nonprotein part of hemoglobin and some other biological molecules.” (Credit: Wikipedia)

Brown combined heme -the thing that gives beef its meaty, bloody flavor- and a number of plant products (namely potatoes, soybeans, and coconut) to achieve the Impossible Burger. A longtime vegan and accomplished biochemist, he wanted to make a veggie burger for people who loved meat. After all, who would forego succulent, savory bovine for lentils and chalky carrots?

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Us, apparently.

And we’re not alone:

Impossible Foods surveyed 600 “hard core middle America burger lovers” about their eating habits and asked them whether they’d choose a plant-based burger if it was identical—in taste and cost—to the beef version. Nearly 70% said they would. –Wall Street Journal

But with production costs still too high to actually offer the Impossible Burger to the masses, you have to wonder: is it worth all of the trouble? I mean, cholesterol aside, is there really anything that bad about sticking to the traditional?

cost-of-beef

According to NPR, this is what goes into producing a single beef patty. Photo Credit

With plans for a slow but powerful movement, Impossible Foods is piloting their burger in limited quantities in places like New York City, and soon, San Francisco. Within five years, we can expect to see some pretty happy cows, but for now, some pretty happy humans:


Do you think the Impossible Burger can do the impossible? Would you try it?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

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24 responses to “I Have Tasted the Impossible!

  1. Mmm….sounds delish! Y’know….I keep saying that Nova Scotia is merely a hop, skip, and a jump from where you are. One day I’ll visit and we can indulge in all kinds of fancy non-meat burgers.

    • I actually saw vegan LOX in the frozen section of a health food market in Long Island a few weeks ago. (And I now realize that train of thought might only run to and from Julestown. “Nova Scotia”…Nova…Smoked salmon… No? Just me?)

      If you were willing to try THAT with me, well. Talk about next level.

  2. thepighasacurlytail

    You are undoubtedly the greatest blogger in the universe.

  3. I feel the same way about this plant burger as I do your dog, if you catch my drift. Lovely to see you about though, dear. How have you been? Great, I hope!

    • Ah, just as well. You probably couldn’t afford it with those eight thousand kids running around! 😉

      Likewise!! Hoping to be a bit more diligent on the blogging scene, now that I have the impossible running through my veins.

  4. I have noticed that the story ended right before you’ve actually tried the burger. So, does it indeed taste like food?

    • Ha! My reaction was based on the friendly Australian (seen in the background of the video at the end of this post), who impatiently shouted while I chewed my first bite: “Is it a thembs up or a thembs down??”

      (It was a thembs up, for the record. And the added bonus – you actually felt ‘light’ afterwards!)

  5. You might want to read a 1966 sci-fi story called “Make Room, Make Room” (Wikipedia link below) to see where such projects may be headed. I’m old and scared. Whatever happened to zero population growth?!?!?! US is currently at 322million+/-
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Make_Room!_Make_Room!

  6. All I can say is: GET IN MAH BELLY!

  7. Also — you just might make me a vegan if I hang around you enough….

    • I may or may not have perfected my own veggie burger. It doesn’t bleed, but it does do a splurchy thing once you put it inside a bun (or two rice cakes, your choice) that’s quite impressive.

  8. Nope nope nope… What’s next – polyester pork belly?!? It’s admirable from a resource perspective but it’s not food. I can’t imagine this is going to be something people will be able to make from scratch, probably pre made food which is a huge factor in our public health nightmare.

    We need to be teaching people how to make real food for themselves from scratch for physical, emotional, social, and spiritual health. Dang it, now you got me all serious now…

    • If I could cook like you and your wife, I’d never eat out again. You make a really good point, though. I was so caught up in the environmental implications that I didn’t really think about the fact that it’s still processed food. Ah, well. It’s not easy being impossible.

  9. I learned long ago that if I don’t like something, I don’t have to finish it. Also, I don’t die. So I’d be willing to try it. I would prefer to not know it was fake when I take my first bite though. That’s the true taste test!

  10. How the heck are yah???
    I have to be careful with soybeans and the like but if they were purely vegetables of the garden variety, I’d be down. 🙂

  11. I would try it, at reasonable cost. I was a straight vegan for over 1 year. I kinda miss it and am thinking of going back, but if I don’t have to give up the taste of a good burger, wonderful! Now, if you can just get a candy bar with a milk chocolate covering to have no carbs, less fat, and still taste like a good candy bar does now…well, then let’s really talk!
    Scott

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    viral. You need initial boost only. How to get it?
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