What if fake meat stops masquerading as real meat?
After around three meat-free weeks, it occurs to me that I might be making a fundamental mistake. We modern eaters have turned the tide against food science and machine-made edibles in favor of the unadulterated, organic, "whole." Isn't getting food from a factory instead of a pasture, then, exactly what we're running away from? Worn out with the pursuit of plant bits pretending to be animal bits, I turn back to vegetables in their natural form.
Which brings me to Dirt Candy, Amanda Cohen's meat-free (and fake meat-free) restaurant on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It is famous in this city for its crossover appeal with vegetarians and carnivores alike, and it stays busy enough that at 5:30pm on a Thursday there's only room at the bar. I order Korean fried broccoli, breaded with panko and tossed in spicy-sweet gochujang sauce, sesame seeds, and garlic sauce, served molten hot and too rich to finish. Then there are the carrot sliders -- tender medallions of carrot, dressed with lettuce and onion and Cohen's version of Big Mac sauce. I order the broccoli hot dogs, which aren't hot dogs at all but broccoli stalks, trimmed, smoked, grilled, and sautéed in broccoli oil, on homemade Japanese milk bread buns covered with broccoli kraut and mustard-based barbecue sauce. By the time they come, I am, improbably, feeling too gouty and stuffed on carrots and broccoli to take more than a bite.