Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chris eats meatless jerky.

Hello again, internet friends!  As I hinted at before, today we’ll be sampling Thai Peanut Flavored Meatless Vegan Jerky! 

Let’s learn a little bit about the history of jerky.  For starters, did you know that there is a history of jerky?  I sure didn’t!  The word “jerky” is derived from the Quechua term “charqui” meaning burnt meat.  Jerky is basically meat that has been trimmed of fat, seasoned, and dried under low heat.  Jerky is one of the oldest prepared foods in the world.  The jerking process (you heard me) was perfected by the Mayans who ominously predicted “the end of all jerky” in 2012.  John Cusack, a lifelong observer of the Mayan calendar and a jerking expert (you heard me), starred in a film depicting the event.  That film is called Hot Tub Time Machine.  An ominous portent to be sure! 

Can I confess something to you?  Beef jerky always makes me think of road trips.  The car is gassed up, the windows are rolled down, music is playing, and there is always bottled water and a big bag of beef jerky.  It’s the perfect driving food.  It’s meat that you don’t need to refrigerate!  It’s steak you can leave in your glove compartment…in August!  Every single gas station in America carries it.  Does it taste good?  You’re goddamn right it tastes good!    Did you know that beef jerky is a dietary staple on the International Space Station?  If it’s good enough for people who float around all day and pee in tubes, it’s good enough for me!  But, alas, we’re not here to talk about my fondness for beef jerky.  We’re here to talk about whatever this is…

I must admit that I’m more than a little apprehensive about this.  I have nothing against vegans or vegetarians; I admire their resolve and I’ve heard Portland is a lovely city.  I just can’t imagine getting as excited about wheat protein and soy beans as I would about a juicy piece of filet mignon.  Is the filet wrapped in bacon?  You bet your sweet ass it is.  I just made my own mouth water.  Let’s compare and contrast the ingredients to see what we’re up against.

Beef Jerky
Beef, soy sauce, seasoning (garlic, pepper).

Thai Peanut Flavored Meatless Vegan Jerky
Non-GMO vital gluten (wheat protein), water, unrefined evaporated cane juice, naturally brewed soy sauce (water, non-GMO soybeans, sea salt), expeller pressed canola oil, peanut butter, vinegar, fresh Thai basil, sea salt, natural vegetarian spices. No MSG added.

Did you notice the differences?  They’re very subtle.  I’ll give you another minute.  Nothing?  Alright, well one list of ingredients is for edible food and the other is for deadly poison.  Fearful that "non-GMO" food might cause me to grow ovaries or lobster hands, I immediately looked it up online.  As it turns out, GMO is short for Genetically Modified Organism.  Why are we against genetically modified organisms?!?  They sound awesome!!!  Ever since I was a young boy, it has been my dream to be eaten by a dinosaur.  If the hippies win we’ll never have a theme park full of velociraptors and that is a world I don’t want to live in.  I should also point out that vegan jerky, in direct defiance of God’s will, NEEDS TO BE REFRIGERATED.  If I’m driving to Alabama to see the world’s largest boll weevil, you’re telling me I have to put my jerky in a cooler?  Not in my America, Jane Fonda! 

This is food.
Let’s talk appearance!  My slice of meatless jerky came individually wrapped in the refrigerated section at Whole Foods.  Note: If you ever want to pay an exorbitant amount of money for food that might make you throw up, stop by your local Whole Foods!  The packaging is “tribal” themed, with extreme fonts and graphics targeted at bloodthirsty carnivores like myself.  It’s as if the vegan graphic designers are trying to convince me that some cunning animal was bled out on an African plain to make this soy-based glop.  The jerky itself is astoundingly gray.  Elephant skin gray.  Winter sky gray.  The Picture of Dorian gray.  The vegan stuff seems more bendable than regular jerky and it’s coated in brown goo.  I, for one, am excited. 

Not quite, Lithgow.  Not quite.
Out of the wrapper, things aren’t looking much better.  After some olfactory investigation there isn’t much smell to it.  You get a little whiff of peanuts and a generic “meat” finish (that’s what she said).  Time for the moment of truth!  I take a bite.  Do you know how in sci-fi shows the aliens always pose as people?  They always appear 99.9% human but something is just a little bit off.  Meatless jerky is like aliens.  The flavor isn’t bad, really.  There’s a little bit of the Thai peanut taste and a lot of salt.  The consistency is almost there, too.  It has the chewy, sinewy texture of meat but it’s nowhere near as tough as regular jerky.  It’s like a bunch of nondescript lunch meat has been compressed into a slab.  I know that sounds disgusting but after the recent Limburger Disaster, which claimed the lives of many of my taste buds, I was expecting far worse.  I finished the whole piece of jerky and suffered no ill effects, apart from a pronounced soreness in my ovaries.

In Summation:

Would I ever eat vegan jerky again?  Sure.  Would I seek it out?  Nahhhhhhhhh, that’s alright.  I was actually very impressed with how close it came to approximating meat.  It didn’t really taste like beef jerky but it also didn’t really taste like poison so I’ll chalk that up as a win.  That’s all for today, friends.  I still have 2 more foods to sample from my original Whole Foods shopping spree and I’ll be reporting back to you in the next week or two.  Until we meet again, Internuts! 

1 comment:

  1. Actually, if it is unopened, vegan jerky does not require refrigeration.