An Impossible Burger is Stampeding Your Way

Vegetarians, be forewarned.

By Kevin RR Williams

FOOD Though Impossible Burger is the branded name for a patty from Impossible Foods, “improbable” is a more accurate description. Short of being “impossible,” this burger is available today from a growing number of restaurants.


Photo: Curtesy Impossible Foods

If no one told you otherwise, you would think you are eating a typical burger formed from a fresh patty. The price point might signal that it is a gourmet hamburger. What’s shocking is the Impossible Burger is a plant-based patty. It looks and tastes closer to meat than anything else on the market. This is an engineering marvel, backed by the likes of Bill Gates.

Impossible Burger Reactions

With international locations, Umami Burger arguably sets a standard for hamburgers. The Hollywood restaurant is one of the few to serve Impossible Burgers. The signature ingredient in Umani burgers contains anchovies (likely from Worcestershire Sauce). Chefs aim to stimulate savory taste receptors that often respond to glutamate. Umami (the taste, not the restaurant) tastes brothy or meaty. At this restaurant, Impossible Burgers can be ordered vegetarian style seasoned with salt, pepper and cheese or vegan style sans cheese.

My quartet of diners included a pair of meat eaters and a pair of vegetarians. One ordered the Manly Burger and was quite satisfied (except for the bacon lardons). Another ordered a slider sampler platter containing one mini Impossible Burger. I shared a vegetarian-style Impossible Burger with the remaining vegetarian.

The omnivores’ reaction was identical. After a couple of chews, both stopped with eyes widening to a state of confusion. They questioned whether the bite was from the correct burger. Then concluded it tastes like meat. As a vegetarian, I felt like I had “fallen off the wagon.” Imagine offering a sober alcoholic a beverage that tastes just like gin. How about a saccharin filled chocolate truffle for a diabetic? Is the purpose to reestablish a craving for that which one has sworn to abstain?


Photo: Bret Thorn

Medium rare by default, the double patty was thinner than depicted on most glamour shots. Because it contains no meat or blood, this demonstrates its range of color. My companions with the sliders had their’s well done. Though he flaked at it, burger texture is well captured in the photo by Bret Thorn. I concur with his description: “Its mouthfeel is, well, a bit more mushy than most hamburgers, as though it might have been made with a higher-than-normal percentage of lean finely textured beef.” I differ with Thorn’s conclusion that “the overall flavor was that of toasted grain.” Our party of four agreed it was indistinguishable from a beef burger. Your personal impression will depend upon accompaniments and seasoning.

Who’s it For?

Impossible Burger will not likely appeal to longtime vegetarians and vegans. When I first became a vegetarian, finding something that tasted exactly like meat was my goal. Countless hours were wasted combining beans, grains and sauces. Over time, like many vegetarians, I lost the taste for meat. Yet, there is still a desire for some of its characteristics. The texture, juiciness, and flavor is difficult to emulate in a frozen bean patty. Vegetarians rely on condiments like guacamole, cheese, and freshly baked buns for flavor. In time, an appreciation for the creative combination of handmade vegetarian patties along with so many other vegetable and fruit options is acquired.

Impossible Burger is a vegetarian disappointment precisely because is tastes so much like real meat. Obviously this has been developed for omnivores. The ideal customer wants to reduce the environmental impact of cattle or loves burgers but must limit their consumption of red meat for dietary reasons. This audience must be vast. A growing number of chefs at high-end restaurants are adding the impossible to their menus. As production and distrubtion increases, Impossible Foods aim to bring the cost down below regular hamburger meat. This will pave the way for healthy and economical tacos, spicy meatballs and dare I say, meatloaf.

This 658 word article passes with good readability by the Hemingway Editor.

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References
  1. We tried the plant-based ‘impossible burger’ that’s backed by Bill Gates. cnbc.com
  2. Is the 'Impossible Burger' possible? nrn.com
  3. Review of the Impossible Burger from Momofuku Nishi! clearlyveg.com
  4. The Impossible Burger: Inside The Strange Science of The Fake Meat That 'Bleeds'. wired.com
  5. Eating the Impossible: Locations. impossiblefoods.com