Monday, October 13, 2008

Is there such a thing as faux pho?

In catching up with emails and feeds I came across this fun article on fake foods,0,2298491.story

which raises all sorts of questions about what is fake and what is real and why that might lead to questions about much more than food.

The first fake food I remember eating as a child was mock cherry pie - which was a winter pie made with fresh cranberries and raisins.

Oh - but what about margarine? and when does a fake food become it's own reality?

I do eat soy simulations, for example, and find myself thinking of some as definite fakes and others as their own real thing. One eats soy burgers for the burger experience. At least I hope one does. Surely it is not for the taste, but for the bun and condiments? And tofurkey anything is really an ultra-processed food fantasy, because first the tofu needs to be made, and then all the distortions need to be wreaked on it to make it resemble meat. True confessions: I do eat tofurkey Italian sausage, again for the meat experience, which doesn't quite make it, but also for the spicy taste. But I think of soyrizo as a food with its own integrity. And you have to think of soy milk as something else, because if you compare it to milk, you will always be disappointed. But "soy beverage" is just too awkward.

The writer does mention Lent in passing - but there might be a fascinating project in searching old cookbooks for fast day deceivers.

And one has to wonder, prices being what they are and climbing while wealth and incomes fall, will there be new fake foods for this new era of belt tightening?

The article would have been even better with more attention to Japanese faux foods. I recall the first time I explored a vegan cookbook with all the clever fakes from the Buddhist tradition, with their emphasis on the visual.

As for Japanese inventions that are widely available, I have been known to say "It's not imitation anything, it's real surimi."

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