Everything Tastes Like Chicken Except for Fake Chicken

A bunch of food scientists—including Tofurky's creator and the guy who invented soft raisins—are closing in on a fake meat that tastes like chicken. It's the "holy grail" of fake food, and it's nearly impossible to make synthetically.

Time reports that the competitive field of edible flesh simulacra is working overtime to produce "a congealed goo" reminiscent of chicken. If you don't feel like barfing yet, read this paragraph:

What has confounded fake-meat producers for years is the texture problem. Before an animal is killed, its flesh essentially marinates, for all the years that the animal lives, in the rich biological stew that we call blood: a fecund bath of oxygen, hormones, sugars and plasma. Vegan foods like tofu, tempeh (fermented soy) and seitan (wheat gluten) don't have the benefit of sloshing around in something so complex as blood before they go onto your plate. So how do you create fleshy, muscley texture without blood?

I am a fan of tofu (tofan?) but simulated meat has never made sense to me. I eat real duck regularly, but the synthetically stringy, goose-pimpled confection that is mock duck disgusts me—if I were a vegetarian and opposed to the consumption of animal flesh, wouldn't the gelatinous zombiefied version of that which I was morally opposed to consuming be extra icky? (Sure, there are other reasons to be vegetarian than kneejerk revulsion with gnawing on the boiled corpses of animals. But still, gross.) And Tofurky-ized chicken isn't even the grossest thing food scientists are working on:

[T]he next green-food frontier is real meat grown in vitro—actual flesh that is sliced away not from a living animal but a petri dish and which offers all the taste with none of the livestock slaughtering.

I read about this in a dystopic sci-fi novel once. Twenty pages later, the Apocalypse happened. [Time, image via Sunsetman/Shutterstock]