the impossible burger–a lukewarm review

The Impossible Burger is the most high-tech attempt yet to create a vegetarian meat substitute that might appeal to meat-eaters. The creators analyzed the various chemicals in beef that give it its distinctive flavor, and concluded that the most important one to duplicate was hemoglobin, a complex protein which you may already know of due to its role in oxygenating blood. Hemoglobin is why blood is red.

Instead of hemoglobin, the Impossible Burger contains a plant analogue with the painfully un-mellifluous name leghemoglobin, which is harvested from genetically modified yeast.

It pains me to say this, because I’m a weepy environmentalist, but the Impossible Burger isn’t quite there yet. The texture is really loose and the flavor sort of one-note. It’s intensely umami at first, as if it’s trying to overcompensate for the lack of whatever other billion proteins give beef its flavor. If you’d told me that it was a real meat burger, I would have believed you, but I also would have said, what kind of shitty burger is this, and the next time we hang out, can it not be here? You could trick me into thinking it was real meat, but only by taking advantage of our friendship.

Sadly, this is not yet an impossible burger. More like an improbable burger. But it’s definitely the best meat substitute I’ve tried so far.