Not chicken

Last year we were at a beautiful wedding in York county. The waiter approached our table and not too subtly asked who “the vegan” was. I raised my hand, albeit with some trepidation. A plate was laid in front of me with what appeared to be a drumstick on it. You would assume that I knew right away that it wasn’t real chicken because he clearly asked who the vegetarian was, right? Wrong-o. We were at a Cambodian wedding. What does that have to do with anything, you ask? Did you see “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” when the guy said he was a vegetarian and the mom said, “It’s ok, I make you lamb?” The same thing happens at Cambodian functions, except the lamb is replaced with chicken.

Upon biting into the drumstick, I pretty much freaked out. I was sure it was truly a bird. It tasted like it. It had the same texture I remembered. I dropped it back onto my plate. Since I was the only person eating at this point, it drew the attention of everyone at my table. The next 15 minutes consisted of us passing the plate around and around the table for everyone to taste the alleged mock meat. We were pretty divided; some thought it was real and some thought it was fake. It wasn’t until someone spoke up and said that she knew it was not really meat because her mom buys it. She insisted it was fake meat, but it didn’t help me to eat it. It was too “meaty”. The texture and the taste were just too right.

I’m not usually a fan of processed foods, especially for my son. And I am not usually one for fake meat products, as evidenced by the above anecdote. The more “real” those faux meat products taste, the more disgusting my “ew” face gets. I occasionally eat a Boca burger, but that is usually about it. My son, though, has become really picky. I am at my wits’ end trying to find stuff he’ll eat. Somehow I stumbled upon a gold mine.

I bought a bag of Gardein Crispy Tenders and expected little. I have tried other fake chicken finger-esque products in the past and was less than impressed. I cooked a few up for his dinner and took a sample bite. I was pleasantly surprised. I thought they were pretty good. My son, on the other hand, apparently thought they were amazing. He gobbled them up, and has done so just about every time I have served them.

I was very surprised tonight when my husband tried a bite of one and said that he thought it was actually chicken. I didn’t think they tasted 100% like chicken, but Sovanna said that I could easily pass them off to a meat eater as the real thing. It’s not often we come across something all three of us really like, so this earns a recurring role in our freezer!


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