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Wednesday 30 January 2013

Quorn Bacon Style Slices

Without intending it, the latter part of this month has become something of an exploration of Vegetarian food. There are a couple of other things I'm intending to write up in future but, for now, I'm going to finish the month with one of two Quorn products I picked up recently in Waitrose.

The one I'm going to gloss over is their 'Ham Style Slices', affectionately know as sHam. Those slices don't smell like ham, they don't taste much like ham, and the texture is a bit spongy... but if you're a Vegetarian, yet unaccountably hankering after a ham sandwich, they're probably about the best you can do.

The one I'm going to go into more - but not much more - detail about is their 'Bacon Style Rashers' because, being a fan of both bacon and puns, I decided to make myself a very basic all-day-breakfast for dinner this evening... So I give you... Scrambled Eggs & Faken (Facon? I'm not sure of the best spelling for a contraction of 'fake bacon').

What you get in the pack is eight rectangular slices of flavoured, coloured mycoprotein that just don't look like food. Certainly not like bacon. I can understand why they wouldn't go to the trouble of marbling the colour, to look more like streaky bacon, but if the idea is to replicate bacon as closely as possible, they're certainly missing a trick.

Another issue with this stuff is that it has to be fried... No grilling allowed (though I'll probably give that a try, just to be sure). OK, frying is an option with regular bacon, but there are several other options too. Add to that the fact that the instructions state that the frying pan should be 'lightly oiled', when bacon - technically - needs no additional oil since it's own fat will generally suffice. The other drawback to frying-only is that if, like me, you're aiming to serve these strips of meat substitute with scrambled eggs, you basically need two frying pans, and need to be simultaneously operating two burners on your hob. Still, it's very quick - the instructions reckon only one minute per side, or until it's lightly browned.

Once it's done, what you have is a bunch of strips of a very strange substance that looks uncannily like a cross between leather and cardboard. Appetising it ain't. It doesn't crisp the way real bacon does, so it just as floppy cooked as it is when 'raw' but, equally, it doesn't dry out... Swings and roundabouts, I guess.

Flavour-wise, it's very subtle. Compared to your average supermarket-own-brand bacon flavour crisps, there's very little flavour at all, but what's there tastes more like real bacon than the aforementioned baked snacks. That said, just to give you an idea of how subtle the bacon flavour is, I served these up with basic supermarket eggs - the kind which are never renowned for their flavour - and yet the flavour of the eggs overloaded the bacon substitute in each and every mouthful.

That said, what it lacks in immediate flavour, it makes up for (if you can call it that) in aftertaste and... er... repeat value.

Overall, this is a bit of a failure... it doesn't emulate bacon well enough in any area, least of all strength of flavour. The fact that it's molded in a shape that's not dissimilar to streaky bacon, yet is coloured a solid pink means that it looks completely (and suspiciously) artificial. It might fool someone who turned vegetarian many years ago and misses bacon - just not enough to, y'know, cook up some bacon - but it's a pale imitation in every sense.

Well... at least the eggs look appetising...

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