Mystery Meat, Vegetarians, and Fake Chicken

Mystery Meat, Vegetarians, and Fake Chicken

How Does Quorn Stack Up?

I saw the headline recently about the hamburger meat with the scientific term “slime” that was being served in our schools. The little I read made me seriously consider what kinds of mystery meat I’ve been eating at other cafeterias, and also made me ponder how healthy meat is in general.

While I’m not necessarily going to jump on the vegetarian bandwagon, I might try to eat fake chicken, which was reviewed in the New York Times as an alternative for people who don’t eat meat for humanitarian (animaltarian?) reasons, as well as for health reasons due to the bacteria often found in chicken raised within the United States.

The writer’s opinion is that the fake meat consumption--even fake chicken--is far preferable to the consumption of real meat by people because of cruelty to the animals raised for food. Obviously, this point is truthfully difficult to argue with.

Most meat-eaters stop and pause to think about how the meat substitutes will taste in comparison to the real thing.

My own image of fake chicken is of a rubber chicken being used for practical jokes, but writer/reviewer Mark Bittman’s description of imitation chicken doesn’t mock the idea of imitation chicken at all. In fact, Mark Bittman is one of the first writers that I’ve actually read who manages to describe an artificial meat in such a way that it actually makes the meat product sound like it might taste good.

Apparently, the particular “fake chicken” that he is referring to is made from mushrooms and is known as “Quorn.” Since I’ve been lucky enough to have tasted mushroom steaks and other mushroom delights, I was able to imagine that mushrooms could be somehow made to taste like chicken. The description of the chicken by Mark Bittman, however, didn’t go so far as to say that Quorn tastes exactly like fake chicken, but that it could quite possibly taste like chicken if it were mixed with the right mixture of ingredients, say in a stir-fry or in fajitas.

Mark Bittman was fortunate enough to taste-test the chicken in the Hague, Netherlands with a Dutch chef who touted the product and prepared it for him. I’m not sure that the Quorn would taste quite as well when prepared by an inexpert chef. That said, anyone wanting to try out the Quorn should check out the website here.