Last week, I was browsing through a health food store when a clerk offered me a sample of vegetable bacon. “You won’t be able to tell the difference from the real thing,” she assured me. Taking the sample, I popped it into my mouth and noticed how my taste buds perked up. I’d not tasted anything similar since I’d become a vegetarian at age 11.
“Maybe there’s something to this new fake meat,” I thought as I walked on.
Unfortunately, after more chewing, I observed how the bacon became leathery and took on the property of gum. Impossible to swallow, I spit the contents from my mouth into a tissue and threw it away.
I gave no further thought to fake meat until sometime later, when my retirement center added fake sausage to the menu. Ever an optimist, I gave the dish a try. Again, I experienced a momentary taste of legitimacy. But, the product proved to be too salty and lay too dry in my mouth when it should have been juicy. Another miss.
The newest attempt at meatless meat involves 3D printing. At the moment, the machinery necessary to create the product is expensive. Recreating a 7-ounce steak costs $4.00. The manufacturer hopes to whittle the price down to $2 in the near future. (“The Quest for Fake Meat’s Holy Grail,” by Lydia Mulvany et al, Bloomberg Businessweek, Nov. 25, 2019, pg. 16.)
Frankly, I’m not holding my breath. Turning vegetable fiber into muscle fiber and fat is an elusive aim, like transmuting lead into gold.
For the life of me, I don’t understand why these tech geniuses don’t devote themselves to smaller miracles, like making brussel sprouts palatable without bacon. That would be an achievement worth salivating about.