Today, I finally tried something I’ve been meaning to do for ages: I cooked a meat-free chilli to see what it would taste like and whether C. would notice. I thought of doing that because I’ve heard so many vegetarians tell me they cooked meat-free versions of various dishes and nobody noticed the difference.
I’m not a fan of these vegetarian replacement products. I cook and eat vegetarian a lot and vegan regularly. However, it’s not a statement when I do so. It’s simply because I fancy a vegetable pizza, ratatouille or whatever. And if I want a schnitzel, that’s what I’ll have – not some processed creation supposed to fool me into thinking I’m having a schnitzel, but an actual schnitzel. And tofu is something I love for what it is rather than for what it can replace.
But for this experiment I decided to go all the way and bought some of that soy fake mince stuff. It neither looks nor smells particularly interesting, but funnily enough, once cooked it does have a texture very similar to minced meat.
Obviously, the chilli was lacking the flavours from the meat, so I tried to compensate that with spices, vinegar and some beetroot for am irony taste. I was pretty happy with the result – it really was quite similar to the real thing. However, I have to admit I prefer the meaty version – not least because, like I said, I just find it silly to pretend to be cooking something I’m not. If I want to make vegetable stew, that’s what I’ll do. However, tonight has made me understand a bit better why people might do it. It tasted great. I just don’t know if the fake mince was actually necessary. Next time, I’ll just make some “Texan stew” with all the ingredients bar the meat.
C. actually didn’t notice the lack of meat. He just said he really liked it. Only when I asked whether he noticed any difference did he say yes and point out the beetroot. He still didn’t notice the fact that it was actually a chilli sin carne though. Pretty impressive, especially considering he has had my chilli loads of times and therefore really knows what it tastes like.