Foodstuff: Fake Parmesan

Fake Parmesan 1

Well, ‘Fake Parmesan’ is clearly not how the manufacturer actually identifies this particular product… rather it is identified on the label as a ‘Grate Soy Topping’ with “Parmesan flavor”. Now, I have to say, here, that the double quotes around the ‘Parmesan flavor’ in the previous sentence are intentionally applied there because, having been curious enough to sample this item, the description is just a bit…well, optimistic…

Fake Parmesan 2

The ingredients listed on the label include soy protein and rice flour as the main ‘bulk’ components and it is clear that product is intended to target the vegetarian market. There has been some effort to make this look a little bit like grated cheese (at least the usual supermarket varieties, if not freshly grated real Parmesan), but the similarities don’t fare well beyond that. Citric and Lactic acids are used, but the rest of the taste components are identified only as ‘Natural Flavors’ … this sounds almost encouraging, I suppose, until you consider that cow manure, rotten potatoes, and nail clippings also have flavors that are, indisputably ‘natural’…

Anyway, I purchased this condiment, not because I was looking for a vegetarian substitute for Parmesan cheese, but rather out of a genuine curiosity to see how well the manufacturer managed to capture the essence. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm and interest in the investigation was seriously diminished by just smelling it after opening the container.

To be fair, of course, actual Parmesan Cheese has aromas that many people find almost offensive (comparisons to vomit and sweaty socks come to mind), but here, there was an additional, aspect to this condiment that was… well, ‘un-food-like’. I cannot express it any better than that, except to say that, even though Parmesan Cheese may be an acquired taste (in the olfactory sense), this was very off-putting indeed. Still, even with those initial misgivings, I persevered, and moved on to a proper taste test…

 

Fake Parmesan 3

To taste the ‘cheese’ in what would normally be a ‘natural setting’ (as it were), I whipped up what is probably the most simple pasta dish ever. I boiled some spaghetti, and then tossed it with a little butter … I sprinkles a little dried parsley on top for a little visual appeal, but, beyond that, I added no seasoning… only the (ahem) cheese…

And the verdict?  Well … the effect was not as horrible as the smell, I suppose. You can’t go wrong with pasta in butter with some Parmesan Cheese added and this was, in truth, not so far off the real thing to make me toss it all in the garbage. But, that being said, though… while the taste was vaguely familiar for this sort of simple dish, it really wasn’t very good. In short … a fail

3 thoughts on “Foodstuff: Fake Parmesan”

  1. Vegan food can be good, but it helps if the aim isn’t to mimic animal products. If a person craves them, I’d say go to the real thing. (In my view vegetarianism and veganism are unnatural and a figment of human imagination. No animal would voluntarily restrict its diet in such a way.)

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