I Tried the Impossible Burger and Lived to Tell About It
"Just try it," he said. We sometimes drink whisky & bourbon together; I know his taste and trust it. So I tried.
In the package, it certainly looks like burger. They took the time to make something the viscosity and hue of fresh meat-juice (I say it like that in case it freaks you out that your food is bleeding.) I read the label carefully - it's made with soy protein and potato protein. The ubiquitous "Natural Flavors" is included - this could be MSG, or edible yeast, herbs, bark, buds, fermented dairy products, even meat or eggs according to this article: Natural Flavors: Should You Eat Them? Imagine flavoring your fake meat with meat...ingenious.
Editor's note: I've eaten turkey bacon for years because I don't like pork. It's better than it used to be. I don't know what they make it out of now; probably bacon.
Following the cooking instructions on the package, I heated my pan to medium-high and cooked the patties for 2 minutes on each side or until done to my preference. As I was tending to things in the living-room I could smell the patties cooking - appetizing enough, but didn't smell like beef. That makes sense - it's not beef. OOP...when I went into the kitchen, it did smell like beef.
After flipping it over, patty 2 had that meat-juice bubbling up through the cooked side, just like a real burger. Just like a real burger, I flipped it over for an extra minute. I seasoned with salt and nothing else, the way I do fresh burger. No ketchup or mayonnaise, because this is a test.
It does taste remarkably like beef. It feels like beef that's been frozen and thawed before cooking. If somebody handed it to me without telling me, I would probably think "this is not grass-fed." After sitting on the plate a bit, the patty has the consistency of those hamburgers we got in school lunches, but it tastes better. Must be the Natural Flavors.
But there is something to it that tastes and feels distinctly like meat. Impossible Burger passes my test because I'm sitting here writing out a blog post on it while working on another project and cutting off another bite to chew while I multitask. I'm gonna eat it and I'm not throwing it out. There's a bit of a funny aftertaste; not horrible, maybe nobody else would notice it. Could use some ketchup.
It is less appealing as it comes down to room temperature, but that's on me. It's nothing near as disgusting as vegan "burgers" I've tried and tossed.
I don't have a reason to stop eating beef; next time I buy it's gonna be grass-fed because that's what makes me happy and I can taste the difference. I do recommend Impossible Burger to anyone who may want to avoid beef but would also prefer to eat it. I'll report favorably to Richard next time we meet for whisky.
Dr. Richard A. Williams cares about what he puts into his body, and about what you put into yours. He's retired from the FDA but he continues to research cutting-edge food technology. Read his thoughts on scientific reporting at LinkedIn: We Can Handle the Truth