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WHAT WOULD YOU GET: If falafel had sex with a meatball?
There's been a lot of media coverage about Impossible Meat, the plant-derived imitation hamburger substitute that "bleeds." Since Clover is the first in New England to offer it, I decided to see if it lived up to its hype.
If you want to learn more about Impossible Meat, Wired has a good article: https://www.wired.com/story/the-impos...
And here's an informative video from Bon Appetit:
As there was no burger available at this particular Clover location in Kendall Square (Cambridge MA), I had the "Impossible Meatball Sandwich", which cost $12.83 (a strangely precise price point!). One caveat: I ate it at home, so it was no longer warm.
How was it? Well, if I didn't know better, I would have sworn that these "meatballs" were made from some sort of meat!
Which is not to say they were particuarly good meatballs.
They definitely had a meaty texture, with small chewy chunks, mixed in with a finer grain paste, perhaps reminiscent of a typical meatball recipe containing a breadcrumb binder. A bit dense, and not as tender as a great meatball should be.
The flavor was meaty, but unfortunately tasted a bit more of liver than beef or pork, and lacked any noticeable fat or juices. Not as succulent as a great meatball should be.
As far as the rest of the sandwich, the tomato sauce was pleasant, a dusting of pecorino added flavor, but I would have preferred a more interesting bread than pita.
On one level, this sandwich was amazing when you consider that it contained zero meat. But unfortunatley, your Italian grandmother would laugh at these meatballs! More akin to something you might get in a school cafeteria. Or what would happen if falafel had sex with a meatball.
From Clover's website: "Our meatball has Impossible Meat, made from 4 main ingredients: wheat, coconut, potato, and heme, a molecule made by fermenting the root part of a soybean plant. We fold in fresh garlic, parsley, pita soaked in milk, egg, then bake the meatballs in the oven. The meatballs get drenched in Martina's red sauce and topped with Pecorino." So they are not really representative of an unadulterated Impossible Meat burger, which I would like to try sometime. Perhaps that will be a better facimilie.
Finally, out of curiosity, I did a little digging on Impossible Meat's website to understand how it is made. As a scientist with expertise in this area, I was interested to find out that the heme-containing soy root leghemoglobin protein that is apparently the key to the meat-like flavor of Impossible Meat is produced using recombinant DNA techniques in yeast, a technology I'm very familiar with from the biotech industry.
In other words, Impossible Meat is a GMO-containing food!
Personally, like most scientists, this doesn't concern me at all. GMOs pose no risk to human health, no matter what you've seen on some inflammatory documentary. However, it is interesting to note that this fact is not clear in a lot of the press coverage of Impossible Meat (the links I provide above being exceptions). Whether this is media bias or a lack of understanding, I don't know.
However, I bet a fair number of Clover's customers would be surprised and disappointed to learn that Impossible Meat is a GMO food.
In the end, it was fun to try, but this wasn't a particularly good "meatball" sandwich, and I wouldn't order it again. Although I'm sure it is a healthy alternative to meat. But, sorry, I'm going to have to stick to REAL meatballs for now (Moody's The Backroom, I'm looking at you)!
(I also want to try the new veggie burger at Craigie next week...)
NOTE: I don't really want to get into a debate about GMO's here. You've read my opinion and I'll leave it at that.
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