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I ate Meati’s Mycelium Chicken endorsed by David Chang. It is G

I’m unimpressed when I look at the breaded schnitzel. I can’t ignore its artificial shape, a soft-edged triangle that looks like a novel-sized breaded guitar pick sitting on my plate. Guitar picks don’t exactly get the stomach juices going. And when I think about what to expect in the breading – mycelium (or the non-fruiting base of a mushroom) – I’m really not sure if I want to give it a try.

This just can’t be good.

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[Photo: Meati]

But I stopped it anyway, because you know this is dinner now, and I take my first bite. I’m pleasantly surprised. I’m thinking of a shake ‘n bake pork chop, a food I last ate when I was 9 years old. However, the chewy texture is much lighter than pork, more like a chicken patty.

And as I really bite into the protein, I realize something rare for plant-based proteins: it’s juicy. I have no idea what to call it and I don’t care anymore. I just want to eat my delicious dinner.

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[Photo: Meati]

That is flesh, the newest direct-to-consumer vegetable protein that deserves your attention. Now available to the public (but sold out), it has raised $50 million and caught the eye of some of the leading minds in food and sustainability. Meati signed Scott Tassani, former President of General Mills, as its President; Rose Marcari, Former Patagonia CEO, Joins Board of Directors; and chef David Chang as ambassador (in the past, Chang was one of the first chefs to serve Impossible burgers). While most meat substitutes get their protein from soy, wheat and peas, Meati is the first to bring mycelium to market.

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[Photo: Meati]

As mentioned above, mycelium is not a fungus per se. It’s part of a mushroom Fungal network living underground, which connect tree roots like a telephone line to help them communicate, coordinate and share resources. Meati grows its mycelium through fermentation in large tanks resembling a brewery. A spore is placed in water and fed sugar, and a cow’s protein grows at an exponential rate. The process only takes three or four days, and the mycelium builds up its last 200 pounds of mass overnight.

According to Tyler Huggins, CEO and co-founder of Meati Foods, “Mycelium’s efficient conversion of the carbon in sugars into protein and fiber rivals nature’s theoretical highs.” Huggins himself grew up on a bison ranch and was inspired to start the company after working in forestry where he studied soil ecology and the world of fungi. After two years of searching, he found a strain of mycelium that had the right balance of high nutritional content, fast growth, and texture/flavor. And he’s not afraid to speak in superlatives, noting that his goal was “to bring about massive change and bring to the world a diet that could become a global staple.”

However, the mycelium itself is mostly tasteless and its cells have a threadlike texture. Huggins explains that Meati’s secret sauce is mostly how it treats the protein next, using relatively off-the-shelf bread and cheese machines to shift and rearrange the direction of the mycelial threads to mimic different muscle fibers in animals. (He declines to go into detail.) They also use some natural flavorings to persuade your opinion of chicken or beef.

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[Photo: Meati]

Eating meat isn’t like eating a portobello burger (and, oh, I really tried portobellos… Apologies to my Thanksgiving guests who suffered from my futile attempts to stew them in wine for 12 hours ). So get the mushroom idea out of your head entirely. Meati is actually remarkably meat-like in that it will cut and shred into your teeth.

I like Meati chicken more than the chicken I’ve tried from Beyond Meat (although if you can snag their KFC product straight out of the fryer before it gets gummy in a hot drawer, that’s the best plant-chicken experience on the planet planets). daringmeanwhile, makes a very enjoyable chicken alternative that chars like a grilled chicken thigh and chews like dark meat.

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[Photo: Meati]

Increasingly, I’m skeptical that we’ll ever have one meat substitute that rules all and be able to live with an abundance of variety instead. And so I appreciate Meati not only as an alternative to meat, but as an alternative to meat alternatives. I see it as a way to avoid another meal of tofu or chickpeas. Because it’s mycelium, Meati avoids the usual soy, wheat, and pea trifecta of plant proteins — even Meati’s chicken crust is gluten-free, making the schnitzel free of common allergens where brands like Nuggs aren’t. Meat chicken also provides 20% of your daily intake of naturally occurring B vitamins (which are hard to find in plants; most proteins supplement this nutrient), 17g of protein (which is about the same as chicken breast), and 43% of your daily intake fiber.

For my next meal, I unpacked the dodgy-looking, still-experimental Meati-Steaks. Instead of guitar picks, these had a clean circular shape – clearly inspired by a fillet. Instead of a golden color, they were maroon. I later learned the color came from beet juice, a classic vegan meat trick.

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[Photo: Meati]

I grilled them as suggested, and while I couldn’t sear real beef, I could start to see lines from the grill. But I made the same mistake newbies make with tofu or beans. I didn’t season the steaks. I didn’t even use salt. (Hey, the chicken was pre-seasoned! I thought the steak was too!)

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[Photo: Meati]

Eating it was scary. The texture was different than the meati chicken. It was sort of like a still-wet, well-done steak. The taste…almost starts to be like steak? And then, just like you expect the steak flavor to land, there’s nothing. The texture and flavor hit an eerie valley for me as my mind wandered for an anchor for what this was. I didn’t want to eat more, but I slathered it in Stubb’s and felt like a lousy piece of indistinguishable red meat. I thought, “It’s bad, but I’ve had worse barbecues.”

Meanwhile, David Chang singes with butter and thyme in his videos. Whether I like this concoction of meaty steak or not, I appreciate the idea of ​​an unrestricted plant-based protein that I can prepare myself.

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[Photo: Meati]

As Huggins admits, the steak is “incredibly polarizing,” and they’re still locking in the flavor. He also notes that Meati needs to do a better job of promoting how these proteins should be prepared — not as ready-to-eat foods, but as an ingredient intended for marinating, slicing, frying, or anything else to do with it. But to take such liberties in the kitchen, home cooks must think of this protein differently, perhaps not as an animal meat substitute, but as a new meat worthy of its own treatment — just like you treat a pork shoulder differently than a hanger steak.

“I say these are ‘chicken and beef inspired.’ I think it’s not the best way to 100% replicate the analog. They are what they are. [Yet we ask], “How can we make them better? How can we make meat you know how to make?’” says Huggins. “It’s a whole new way of eating, so we want to at least give someone an idea of ​​what the experience will be like.”

I don’t know what the future holds for meati and how the competitive landscape of mycelial chicken versus soy protein beef will develop. (Impossible’s main ingredient is still soy.) But I know that meati is tasty enough and sustainable enough, and that eating this Meati chicken cutlet made me ask myself a serious question: “How can I ever justify eating chicken?” eat when not eating chicken can be so good?”

And then I remembered Popeye’s and the allure of a perfectly roasted chicken. OK, I guess I’ll give in now and then. But the days when Americans eat 100 pounds of chicken a year? These are numbered.

https://www.fastcompany.com/90734743/i-ate-the-mycelium-chicken-backed-by-david-chang-and-its-stupidly-good?partner=feedburner&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feedburner+fastcompany&utm_content=feedburner I ate Meati’s Mycelium Chicken endorsed by David Chang. It is G

JACLYN DIAZ

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