A Steer in Review: Beyond Meat

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I went through a period of my life during which I only ever ordered cheeseburgers at restaurants. I became a cheeseburger snob, and I finally developed a taste for different temperatures and seasonings. Needless to say, I fuckin love cheeseburgers.

Beef has been the hardest thing to give up since I went lazy veg in 2015. But it’s also one of the more problematic meats, so I try to cheat with it as little as possible.

As I’m writing this, bloody beef tears are falling from my eyes. I miss meat so much. Most of the meat I have eaten in the past year has been poultry or pepperoni pizza. One of the only times I had beef this year is when I went to Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company, which is notorious for its two-hour waits, and I felt like I deserved it after standing in their lobby complaining for two hours.

I can take or leave steak, but a good, juicy cheeseburger is Beyoncé–irreplaceable.

Let me be clear, Beyond Meat is not meat. It’s pretty evident it’s not meat. The first indicator is the $5.99 price tag on a package of, wait for it, TWO patties. Even if it replicated meat perfectly, I would still only eat it on pay day or if my mom had bought my groceries that week (s/o love you Mama).  What do these people expect? I am not the Wolf of Wall Beef, ok?

So, my reluctant, food-writer, amateur chef baby sister and I walked twenty minutes to Whole Foods in 30 degree weather to buy like $75 worth of pretentious eco-friendly groceries.

The burgers are fine. I recommend over-cooking them so the outsides get really crispy. The texture is off, not bad, though. Per sis, “If someone tried to convince me this was real meat, I’d ask them, ‘did you freeze the meat first?’” I argued that it was more like they over-tenderized the meat or something, although I’m not 100% clear on the definition of tenderizing or what it does to meat or what meat is.

Being us, we used Ezekiel bread as buns because yum, and drowned that shit in caramelized onions. To clarify, Sister did the caramelizing, I would not have known how to do that, and I love raw onions to much to cut their spicy tingly-ness with calorie-laden oil. (s/o love you onions!) We bought some very overpriced ketchup that came in a glass bottle because of my fear of plastic, but, honestly, fuck ketchup and everything it represents. It’s like putting maple syrup on your burger, and even though it tastes good, it’s so unnecessary. But, mostly, I just hate plastic bottles and also hate spending $4.99 on ketchup so it’s a lose-lose-lose.

The meal was fine. For something I (read:sister) cooked at home, it was more elaborate than I’d usually go out of laziness, so it felt decadent. It was higher protein than I usually eat, so it was more satisfying than my usual bean medleys.
But the magic of the cheeseburger was missing. And I decided that it’s not the meat that does most of the heavy lifting there. It’s the bun toasted in butter, the special sauce, the perfectly-ripe tomato. Beyond Meat was so close to real meat, but the finished product was so far from what I’d order at a high-end sports bar with a giant beer and tip way too much on.