You remember the margarine that calls itself, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter”?
It doesn’t taste like butter, it tastes like petroleum. Hold your ear up to the plastic tub, you can almost hear the roar of chain saws decimating yet another Asian forest to make palm oil.
So, when I went to the newly opened 21st Amendment Tavern, on Shelby Street and E. Burnett, I was skeptical about a veggie burger called “The Impossible Burger” in tiny little print at the bottom of the menu.
But, hey, I’ll try anything vegan at least once. The crime partner and I agreed to split one, thinking that would be the safest approach to this strange, new thing.
“Veggie burgers have come a long way,” I noted as the crime partner crunched down on his first bite.
“No shit,” he said, with a conviction that surprised me.
I bit into my burger. Oh. I was so embarrassed for the restaurant. They served me a real burger.
“No, this is a veggie burger,” the crime partner insisted.
I double checked with our waitress. She affirmed.
“And it’s vegan?” I asked. I haven’t been an apostate all these years to start believing now.
Let me quickly note that I’m rarely disappointed with a veggie burger, whether it’s made of roots, soy, rice, chickpeas, oatmeal, etc. Partly because, let’s face it, real burgers are rarely that good.
The abiding philosophy underlying hamburger meat is: Let’s grind up some really crap cuts of beef and put a lot of ketchup on it.
The idea of hamburgers is great. You get a great big starch and protein fix. What could go wrong?
But the reality is usually something overcooked or even burnt, flavorless, and ridden with gristle which really needs to be quietly removed from between your teeth and placed on the edge of the plate if you value your intestines.
So, when I say that the impossible burger really tastes like a burger, what I mean is like a burger, but better. Like a burger, without the burn marks or the gristle or the tastelessness.
It’s the texture of the impossible burger, really, that mimics hamburger meat, and a juicy quality that most veggie burgers miss. It deconstructs in your mouth like a burger.
I looked up the ingredients for this confection, and it seems to be made mostly of potatoes, wheat, soy, and yeast. Palm oil conspicuous in its absence from the ingredients list.
“Heme” is a derived plant substance that gives the impossible burger its blood red quality. Apparently, the need to feel you are eating something that not only died, but also bled, is essential to the well being of the reptilian brain.
While I am here, let me not forget to praise the renovation of the 21st Amendment Tavern. Some of you might remember this as the space formerly known as the Cure.
I live in the neighborhood, so, of course, I’ve been to the Cure. The Cure was the Cure.
This is not the Cure. The concrete floor, alone, is a work of art. The bar is gorgeous, the woodwork, pressed tile ceiling, art nouveau accents. This new tavern is a serious gem. You should check it out, even if you’re not a vegetarian.
If your history is a little rusty (mine was, I had to look it up), the 21st amendment is the one that reversed prohibition and gave us an inalienable right to do a little day drinking after voting in the primaries.
And I hope you did. Vote, that is.
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