Saturday, May 21, 2011

Day 279

General Tso's Mock Chicken: While doing some errands yesterday, I decided to swing by the Whole Foods on Ponce again since I was in the neighborhood. I really haven't been feeling like shopping lately, and even though WF has been fairly useless for me lately, I figured it couldn't hurt to try. I've given up on their regular inventory, but I can sometimes find a surprise in the hot bar or produce sections.

My first stop was the hot bar, and I instantly spied something that filled me with skepticism. Before I go any further, let me say that General Tso's chicken is one of my all time favorite dishes. Some foodies may laugh and dismiss it as a guilty pleasure, but there's no guilt on my end about loving it. I order it every time I get Chinese takeout, and it would undoubtedly be on my "death row" meal short list.

Anyway, that brings me to my discovery at WF. The hot bar was serving something called "General Tso's Mock Chicken." Hmm, ok. How did this obviously vegetarian version compare to the classic I love? The "chicken," which was made from a mix of soy protein and something called "soy fiber," consisted of square cubes that resembled tofu. I also spotted some peppers and onions swimming in the sauce, which looked nothing like any General Tso's dish I've had. Even though I knew it couldn't be as good, I got a sample cup and took some home.
I knew this stuff would probably taste worse the longer it sat, so I heated the sample up with my lunch this afternoon. I tried the "chicken" first, and it had the texture/flavor of extremely firm tofu. Unfortunately, it wasn't fried, and in my opinion, they shouldn't be calling it General Tso's unless it's fried. The sauce resembled sweet and sour instead of General Tso's, and the sauteed peppers/onions seemed out of place and unnecessary. If you hadn't told me that this was a riff on General Tso's, I would have never known. Definitely one of the more disappointing new foods I've tried.

From now on, I'll stick to the real thing. General Tso, I'm sorry I betrayed you.

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