I Tried an Impossible Burger in a Bar and I’m Still Struggling With My Emotions
It all happened so quickly.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
I know we're all supposed to be eating grass and water cress in order to save the world.
It's hard, though, to change habits and feelings when you've eaten essences such as meat all your life.
On a recent trip to San Diego, however, my emotions slipped into a vice.
I'd experienced some truly terrible, execrable restaurants.
In one -- it appeared on Eater's list of 38 Essential San Diego restaurants -- the host brought us the dessert menu half way through our entres because she wanted to turn the table over.
Worse, the pasta sauce made me crave tinned versions and the wine tasted as if it had come from a very old box -- at over $50 a bottle.
In another restaurant, the chef thought every single dish needed chile oil. Yes, even the pasta.
Only the sublime Juniper and Ivy saved the trip with astonishingly civilized service -- despite the server being from Long Island -- and some glorious food. Sample: the Foie Gras Cookie.
One night, though, I ended up in the bar at the Grand Hyatt.
I was hungry. And there, staring before me, were disturbing words: The Impossible Burger.
Would I dare? Would I challenge my prejudices and try this non-meat concoction, complete with its fake blood and grass-fed, um, grass or whatever was inside these things?
After all, only this week New Zealand's acting Prime Minister Winston Peters was stunned that the country's national airline was offering the Impossible Burger and declared he was "utterly opposed to fake beef."
I took the plunge toward fakery.
It soon arrived, masquerading as a burger.
I asked the gentleman who brought it to me -- complete with fries -- what he thought of it.
"It's OK," he said, with a slight look of mischief.
It was there before me. I already had my peculiar, but not unpleasant coconut beer to accompany it and now was the time to sink to the unknown.
I took one bite and confess it tasted much like a burger. Not a very good burger, you understand.
After a couple more bites, however, I realized why. There were so may fixin's on this burger that it wasn't exactly easy to taste the meat. Or the "meat."
So I did what any elegant diner would surely have done.
I grabbed the Impossible patty with my fingers, pulled it out of the bun, wiped it down a little with my knife and fork and tried just the patty.
It was a dry old thing. It didn't quite taste of parchment. It also wasn't what I'd call juicy. Or succulent. Or memorable.
Its taste wasn't entirely unpleasant. It was muted. A gentle genuflection to beef, rather than a total attempt at mimicry.
Yes, if I'd been served it without knowing it was made of synthetic plant-based meat, I would likely have been none the wiser.
That's mostly because I don't expect too much from bar burgers.
Still, I asked those in the know about these things for their Impossible feelings.
One celebrated chef told me: "Now that they're in wider distribution, they're not half as good as they used to be. That's what mass production does."
Another chef admitted: "They're OK, but they can't compare with really good meat. They'll never be able to do that."
After my meal, I walked away thinking the burgers had been aptly named.
Yes, it's possible to make a burger from bits of plant. It's a little less possible, I fear, to make it as good as a juicy, meaty beefburger.
I'm so glad they didn't call it the Impossibly Great Burger.