Leave it out, guv …


We promised everyone when we started this blog that we wouldn’t swamp it with poncy, arty pictures of food, taken in pristine kitchens with marble worktops. Good job, really, as finding some clear workspace in mine is impossible, and you can’t swing a hamster in Anth’s kitchen …

So I was royally traumatised this week by a pic on an otherwise rather good vegan recipe site (in this case no names, no pack drill). The silken tofu omelette oozed so ickily I had to navigate hurriedly away from the page. I will spare you my friend Mark’s unsubtle description of it, but can assure you his comparison wasn’t inaccurate.

But then I can take or leave quorn, soya and tofu. I haven’t eaten meat for 34 years, so I have no memory of its taste or texture. I never liked it much anyway, so I’ve never had the urge to recreate bacon sandwiches or chicken strips. I’d rather make something I like from scratch.

There does, though, seem to be a fixation in some quarters with recreating meat-based favourites for vegetarians. I do admit to getting very over-excited when I found a fish-free Worcestershire sauce that actually tasted something like the original – but then toasted cheese and my favourite nut roast recipe are naked without it, as it has a very particular flavour.

And as an occasional treat I make a bacon-free BLT sarnie that uses halloumi instead. But then no one is ever going to mistake it for the real thing when you spread hummus on a ciabatta roll and then dump halloumi, tomatoes, rocket and lemon juice on it. The taste and texture is a million miles away from pig products …

One of the things I find weird with Slimming World is the constant trying to recreate forbidden foods as something syn-free. There’s the infamous quiche that isn’t a quiche, as mentioned by Anth on this blog a few weeks ago. Isn’t a quiche without pastry a Spanish omelette? The chocolate mousse using quark and a sachet of hot drinking chocolate should have been strangled at birth. And as for the cakes made with the cardboard-like crispbreads they sell at meetings – let’s not even go there.

Anth took one for the team the other day by sampling vegan cheese. And I can confirm after an ill-advised foray into buying vegetarian parmesan that it shouldn’t be touched with a bargepole. It reinforces what I’ve felt for some time – sometimes it’s just easier and more pleasant to do without and to find something else that’s satisfying and tasty to eat.

8 responses »

  1. I have to say I used to enjoy veggie Parmesan before it went the way of the dodo thanks to the EU. There are, however, far worse crimes against taste – the quorn bacon that had apparently been made by someone who had heard of bacon but didn’t think it should be encouraged is a case in point. There’s also the difference between slimming fakes – SW quiche may not be quiche but it uses real food to make it, whereas something like quark should be nuked from orbit just to be certain.

    Some veggie, or vegan meat substitutes are OK – tofu has been around for centuries and whereas, seitan is more recent, it’s only ingredient is wheat flour. I worry a little about some of the processed foods like quorn and its ilk, like some of the diet products, it’s too processed and has too many chemical substitutes in it.

    I think I’m developing more of a Michael Pollan attitude – Eat food that your grandmother would recognise as food. I stretch that to include anyone’s grandmother – growing up in a north east mining village, my Gran wouldn’t have recognised pizza as food! But maybe that’s another blog post!

    • Oddly enough, I thought the taste of the veggie parmesan had changed – it disappeared off the shelves for a while and is now very meh.

      I’m inclined to agree with your gran! I’m not at all struck on processed food and have heard some allergy warnings when it comes to quorn. To be honest, I’d rather get a pile of vegetables and create something fresh from scratch. In all the time I’ve been veggie I’ve never felt short of things to make.

      • I don’t think you can get veggie Parmesan any more. Parmesan got appellation controlee (or whatever) on it and only traditionally made Parmesan can get that label – and that means rennet!

      • I remember they had to stop using the name, so now it has the not very snappy ‘vegetarian cheese for pasta’, or something similar. But it definitely tastes different. Before, it pretty much had the sweet/salty tang to it. Now it’s just bland.

  2. I am not a vegetarian but my two daughters have both had long vegetarian phases and my stepdaughter has been a veggie most of her life. I can honestly attest that anything with quorn in it is horrible, I have cooked enough meals with it to know. Those sections at the supermarket selling Quorn “facsimiles” of meat food…..well, they all taste the same, sort of metallic and stale.

    I do like tofu, though, but promise never to take a picture of it!

    • LOL, Maxine! I rarely eat quorn, as it has egg in it. And the quorn fillets are icky. But my landlady in Portsmouth makes a very tasty quorn curry. I suspect that mostly that’s because she puts lots of vegetables in it and seasons it well. Every time I’ve had tofu, though, it hasn’t ended well!

  3. Your halloumi roll sounds the biz – halloumi’s a staple in our refrigerator!

    Also with you on the meh-ness of most tofu.

    • I eat very little cheese, but I do make an exception for halloumi! And after I’d written the blog entry, I had to go out and get the supplies for one of the halloumi rolls!

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