Don't be too sad that your weekend is half-over... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Season FIVE! I did not know that Magnum P.I. was picked up by NBC!!! HOLY SHIT!
So many people worked very hard to make this happen. CBS, Universal, Magnum execs & all you fans out there. The tremendous effort paid off in a very unlikely move for any TV show. We can't wait to start filming again. #MagnumPISaved #NBC #ohana https://t.co/Jz7JAZN3Mi— Jay Hernandez (@jay_hernandez) July 3, 2022
This is one of the most consistently great television shows going, and I'm happy to know more Higgins is on the way.
• LIE! I can't remember if I shared this when it first dropped a while back. If I didn't, I should have, and so here you go...
Mark Kacy's creations are always funny, but this one is next level.
• New Balance! I finally watched the Season 01 finale episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds for the second time. Lord how I love this show. And this final episode is a MASSIVE love letter to fans of The Original Series. Absolutely perfect. If you didn't see the original episode which this one is based on... Balance of Terror (one of my all-time favorites)...
You really should track down the episode and watch it first. Your appreciation for the brilliance of Strange New Worlds will be deepened.
• Hey, Jake! It took me a minute to understand why this character was given the name "Jake"...
Funny. Unless you're the cow he was cut out of, I guess.
• The Boys Go Back, AGAIN! The Boys kinda-sorta works better as a TV show than a comic. EXCEPT... where the comics tend to break ground in shocking and unexpected ways with absolutely nobody being safe... the Amazon Prime series is gutless and pathetic because they are happy to keep treading water. Characters die, but it's always the ones who aren't contributing to the main narrative. They're "main" characters only so far as they've been hanging around... not because they're actually doing anything...
And the third season finale just fell into the same rut that the first two did. You know exactly who will make it to the end of the episode because they've the ones who aren't background fodder. Everybody else? Eh. They die and it just doesn't matter. What's so hilariously stupid is that the writers are not even remotely clever about how they maintain the status quo. Characters with a singular motivation from Day One just discard such motivation at the drop of a hat. It doesn't matter if it makes no sense and doesn't serve the story... it only matters that it keeps everything exactly the same. Ugh. I don't even care if we get a fourth season. Why should I care when I already know how it will end?
• Morningstar Madness! I don't get why MorningStar Farms insists on having such shitty, confusing packaging. Last time I was at the store, I ended up with Spicy Black Bean patties because they accidentally got stocked in the wrong bin at the store. I can't really blame the store, because ALL OF MORNINGSTAR FARMS PRODUCTS LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME.
So this time I went to the store, I was very careful to read the packages so I could grab a couple of the "Grillers" burgers. But when I get home I found that the package in front was Grillers... but the package behind it was the Spicy Black Bean patties... again. So now I have one package of Grillers and four packages of Spicy Black Bean burgers in my freezer. For fuck's sake... ADD COLOR IDENTITY TO YOUR FUCKING PACKAGING SO PEOPLE CAN TELL THEM APART YOU STUPID FUCKS!! HAVING EVERY LAST FUCKING ONE OF THEM BEING GREEN WITH A PURPLE BOX ONLY LEADS TO NON-STOP CONFUSION BECAUSE PEOPLE CAN'T TELL THEM APART! I mean, holy fucking shit... JUST LOOK AT THIS FUCKING MESS! WHO DOES THIS?!?? Jesus. This is like BAD DESIGN 101.
• Giving Education the Finger! A role model to children everywhere! Assuming the education they need is how to be a disgusting piece of shit. She's like the British Betsy DeVos!
Of course I don't know that Betsy DeVos was ever seen giving the finger... but she sure gave the finger to education with her actions. What a repugnant pile of garbage she was. DeVos worked overtime to remove protections for students as bullying is at an all-time high. Any kid who is not a straight, white, Christian got the middle finger every time they walked into a school. And her constant cuts to education spending just made things even worse than they already were. Teachers underpaid? Schools falling apart? Materials outdated? Fuck it! Let's cut MORE money on public schools and give it to charter schools. And let's not even talk about how victims of sexual assault in colleges were stripped of even more protections. Actually... let's talk about it. DeVos made it far more likely that victims of sexual assault would come forward because they limited what "sexual assault" even means... and then made it so that victims could be ruthlessly assaulted AGAIN on the stand. Because, hey, if victims don't come forward... it never happened! And there's SO much more. DeVos was a heinous blight on education and even though I am no President Biden fan, at least he gave us a new Secretary of Education that can dismantle her fucked up shit. BUT WILL HE?? Biden has done some fucked up shit of his own, and there's no guarantee that our situation will markedly improve... they were going to reverse the DeVos cancelation of sexual misconduct reporting in schools... but last I heard, they CANCELED the reversal. So fuck if I know. The wealthy people who own our government want our kids to be poorly-educated drones who never question authority, and that's true no matter who is president.
See you on the flip-side, buckaroos.
I wasn't much of a fan of beef jerky even when I ate meat. But it was a treat I became a fan of once I discovered that vegetarian jerk existed. For years I bought my favorite: Nightlife Meatless Smart Jerky, but that got discontinued and my jerky habit ended shortly thereafter. Occasionally I bought other brands... most of which were terrible... but it wasn't a priority in my snacking.
But this past week I had a hankering for it again and decided to see if there was anything new I should be eating. There were three brands I hadn't seen before, so I ordered up some of each. Two of them were awful... inedible awful... but the third one was very good. Beyond Meat's Beyond Jerky...
I was happily mowing through a bag a day... content to have found good jerky again.
I looked at the Nutrition Facts...
HOLY SHIT! One package has SIXTY-TWO PERCENT of the daily amount of sodium you're supposed to have?? 1420mg!! And the added sugars content is a whopping 26% of what you're supposed to eat in a day! On the plus-side, it's high in fiber and protein, so there's that.
And so I guess this will not be a daily thing after all. Maybe once or twice a week. Otherwise, my blood pressure will likely explode all over, which is not a problem I want to deal with.
Why is it everything that tastes good is bad for us?
Snow has finally come to Redneckistan! But will it last? Doesn't matter... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• MACGRUBER! This coming Thursday. Four more days. I love, love, loved the MacGruber movie. I've watched it an embarrassing number of times and have been wanting a sequel forever. But a TV series will do just fine...
It looks like it's going to be even better than the movie. Can't wait!
• Beautiful! Flawless...
Dumbass bigots self-own so often that I just accept it as their default.
• Enter the Matrix! I'm intrigued...
Though I remember being excited for the two shitty sequels we got last time, so I'm cautiously optimistic.
• Crossed-Stitched! This made my entire morning (here's a link if TikTok is being a dick)...
This. Took. So. Long. 😢 ##pleasehitlike ##myfingershurt ##TubiTaughtMe ##crossstitch ##xstitch ##summer ##foryourpride ##shecamedowninabubbledoug♬ original sound - Collecting Weekly Clips
• BACON! In general, not buying Kellogg's products has been easy for me... except Morning Star Farms fake bacon. I eat this stuff by the truckload. I put it on sandwiches. I eat it for breakfast. I crumble it and put it on everything... E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G... because it's such a great product. There are few alternatives in my area, and the ones I've tried have been awful. I seriously hope that Kellogg reconsiders their abhorrent behavior so I can start buying it again... but... oh well. I refuse to buy any of their products now, and may never buy them again. Hopefully stores will replace Morning Star Farms "Bacon" with Lightlife "Smart Bacon" or something I like.
It's so weird. I've been buying shitloads of Morning Star Farms since I first became a vegetarian in 1986. In many stores where I live, they were the only option. And many of their products remain a favorite... Grillers Original Burgers... Sausage Patties... OH LORD, THOSE GLORIOUS CORN DOGS... and, of course, the bacon. At most, it's been an inconvenience for me. I dipped and fried my own Lightlife corn dogs and they were every bit as delicious as the Morning Star Farms (better even!), but a hassle to make. I will have to see if I can made 100 of them and hope they freeze well? I dunno. Fingers crossed..
• Happy Holidays! The irony is not lost on me that it may very well end up that my favorite Hallmark Christmas movie of 2021 is actually a Hanukkah movie...
Maybe it's because they only get one Hanukkah movie each year that they get to put all their good ideas in a single movie... unlike Christmas where all the ideas are split between 40 movies... but this is another winner after an equally good flick last year.
• Interview! I met Anne Rice twice at book signings. When people ask me what she was like, I had the same response both times... "She was nice. But disconcerting because it felt like she could see right through me." And it's true. Nice as can be... made some sweet chit-chat with me... and made me feel like she had supernatural eyesight that was more than a little intimidating.
Which is why I was very sad to hear of her passing. I liked some of her books. Was less enchanted by others. But ultimately enjoyed the entertainment she generously offered me. But I'm more upset because I feel that a total stranger who knew me better than I knew myself has gone. And, yeah, I know that doesn't make much sense. But it does to me.
And I guess that's all I got to say about that.
Don't despair that yet another weekend is over, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Mando. After only two episodes of The Mandalorian I am prepared to say that it's my favorite thing to come out of Star Wars since The Empire Strikes Back. Or at least tied with Rogue One. I am just completely shocked that they are using their big budget on something more than pew pew space battles. It's all story development... and they are taking their time to get to where they're going. And making everything look 100% gorgeous along the way...
And now I want a Baby Yoda doll. But who doesn't?
• MACLUNKEY! And, speaking of Star Wars, I still can't get over how stunning the 4K remaster of the movie looks. Seriously... it looks like it could have been filmed last week! IT WAS RELEASED IN 1977! I was compelled to watch because I heard that the "Han Shot First" scene which was "reimagined" into a "Greedo Shot First" scene is now a "Han and Greedo Shot at the Same Time" scene...
It's all so damn stupid. Han shot first. It was filmed that way. Any attempt to make it seem otherwise is just fucking embarrassing because it looks fake. BECAUSE IT IS FAKE! Why not just admit that Han Solo had a dicey past but in the end his hero nature prevailed? It sabotages nothing. It changes nothing. And the more you try and play it otherwise, the more you are drawing attention to it. Which is actually more than damn stupid... it's insulting.
• The King. Since the debut of The Impossible Whopper, I've eaten at least a dozen of them. Including the perfect one I had this morning...
For the most part, I absolutely love them. But here's the thing... like any burger, a number of factors go into how good each one tastes. Unripe, tasteless, tough tomato? Not so good. Ripe, flavorful, juicy tomato? Very good. Lettuce core that's tough and rancid? Not so good. Leafy, fresh lettuce? Very good. It goes on and on. Ordinarily, I'd chalk this up to rolling the dice in a game where I'm happy to play and take my chances. But when they cost $7.50 each? For that kind of money I would hope that Burger King would be a little more careful about making sure everything is good. Because... $7.50?!? Still cheaper than so many other vegetarian options out there... assuming you can find them in the first place.
• Axel! And so Netflix not only ponied up what I'm sure is an ungodly amount of money to Eddie Murphy so he would film a standup special... they must have backed up another dump truck full of cash for him to make a fourth Beverly Hills Cop movie...
I loved the first two... liked the third one... and am hoping against hope that they will make the fourth one be worth a crap. After the long, long, long time that the franchise has languished in development hell, this is probably our last shot.
• Root Beer. I love Japan and adore the Japanese people. I see videos like this pop up in my feed and it's weird how the language starts coming back to me. I really should make time to refresh my skills and get back to Japan one of these days...
For the record, I love root beer. And A&W Diet Root Beer is fantastic.
• Watching. All-in-all I liked what Zack Snyder did with Watchmen. At least I did until the end where he completely changed Ozymandias's plan and fucked everything up. Which, in retrospect, is no surprise. He has absolutely no respect for the source material and feels as though he can "improve" on everything. In the case of Watchmen, he jettisoned the shock of a giant psychic alien squid destroying New York City, thus depriving us of one of the original series' greatest moments. In tonight's episode of the HBO series, which follows the graphic novel instead of Snyder's film, we finally got to see it in a flashback...
Now, this is not really a spoiler since it already happened back in 1987. And if it is a spoiler, how sad that you never read one of the greatest comic book series of all time before watching the show.
The HBO Watchmen series has been good... very good. And with each new episode I like it even more. But then I have to remind myself that the guy in charge of the show is Damon Lindelof. Talk about somebody who can fuck up an ending. This was one of the guys responsible for Lost. And so... while this series is delicious in all the right ways (mind-bogglingly good scripts and incredible performances) I'm holding onto my final judgement until all nine episodes have aired.
Until next weekend then...
Last night after experiencing Avengers: Damage Control, Kyle and I went to an amazing Cuban restaurant in southern Minneapolis. It was a tiny place, but had a big heart which contained by lovely graffiti-strewn walls...
My iPhone's "Night Mode" came in real handy when trying to read them...
My dinner was a vegetarian plate. Seasoned black beans with rice... a Cuban slaw... sweet plantains... and, of course, yuca frita!
Kyle had a shrimp dish that was worthy of an umbrella!
I had to be up and getting ready at 4:30am, so it was an early night for me.
Once my hotel shuttle had deposited me at MSP, I started looking for a breakfast snack. Surprisingly, not much was open at 5:00am. But eventually I ran across Dunkin Donuts which, much to my surprise, had BOTH a veggie option AND Coke Zero! They were using Beyond Sausage on a muffin with egg and cheese. It was fantastic! I wish more restaurants would offer this kind of thing...
Burger King is having one of its best quarters ever thanks to their vegetarian Impossible Whopper causing a surge of 10% in sales. And it's easy to see why. It tastes fantastic. Probably due in part to the fact that it's cooked with real meat products, which I'm fine with because Burger King didn't have to kill any animals for what I'm eating. Apparently McDonald's is working on their own vegetarian burger. Which is kind of silly when the McVeggie Deluxe they once offered at their Times Square location was amazing and they could just do that.
I am genuinely excited to see vegetarian options being adopted like this. They don't always work for my tastes (Qdoba has the Impossible Fajita Burrito which tastes "off" to me) but the fact that I can go to so many restaurants and at least have something I can eat is fantastic. I wish it wasn't made more expensive than the meat options (thanks government subsidies!), but I'll gladly pay a premium if it's something I like. Most places the Impossible Whopper is just $1 more than a regular Whopper... worth every penny, and Burger King gets my business.
Anyway... before I knew it I was back at SeaTac which wouldn't be SeaTac if at least one thing I needed to use wasn't busted to shit...
The drive home was uneventful (thankfully) and here I am hanging with my cats for an hour before going into work at noon. They are, needless to say, happy to have me home.
If, for no other reason, that the heat will no longer be on "Away Mode."
I was craving French fries when I left the house, so I called in an order at the local drive-thru when they opened.
Best lunch ever.
And yet I saw something disturbing me when I picked up my order.
When I was a kid I LOVED burgers from Rusty's (in my town) and Dusty's (in the neighboring big city). To give you a clue of just how much I loved my local joint, you should know that the last meat I ever ate when I stopped eating it back in 1986 was a Rusty Burger. Yep. When I made the decision to go vegetarian, that's the meat I wanted to go out on.
And it's tough dropping meat from your diet, let me tell you.
For years after I axed meat I would still crave it. I remember driving by Burger King where they blow the smell of flame-broiled beef out into the street and get triggered. Holy crap did I want a Whopper right then. Giving up bacon was also incredibly difficult. Any time I saw a piece, something deep inside me was suddenly willing to kill for it. Pepperoni was the worst though. Going from having an intimate relationship with pepperoni pizza... then downgrading to a cheese pizza... is what nearly broke me. It still might break me one day. Because while there are some pretty great burger and bacon substitutes, I've yet to find a truly great pepperoni substitute.
But I endure.
Partly because the allergies which plagued me as a kid vanished practically overnight when I stopped eating meat. Partly because the meat industry is literally killing our planet. But mostly because I am horrified by the inhumane, cruel, and disgusting conditions under which mass-produced meat is raised. In all honesty, I simply cannot understand how anybody could become aware of the abhorrent treatment of cows, pigs, lambs, chickens, and other animals before they're slaughtered and still eat the stuff. Which is why most people close their eyes to it, I'm sure.
Meanwhile, back at the drive-ins that are in my neck of the woods, Dusty's eventually added a GardenBurger. I was ecstatic at the time, but came to realize that I prefer a Grilled Cheese with Goop (burger sauce and fixin's), so it goes mostly ignored.
Rusty's, on the other hand, always held out. No vegetarian option for you. Fortunately, they have really good fries.
Then today, miracle of miracles, I saw that they are finally adding a GardenBurger to their menu. I was instantly elated because I'm sure it will be fantastic. Until I saw the price... NINE DOLLARS AND TWENTY CENTS?!?? Holy crap! AND THAT'S WITHOUT CHEESE!!! Keep in mind that this is not an "Impossible Burger" which is an expensive meat substitute (but worth it)... it's a frickin' GARDENBURGER! For contrast, a QUADRUPLE MEAT, QUADRUPLE CHEESE meat burger WITH BACON is just $8.75!
WHAT THE HELL?!?
Either Rusty's is jacking up the price to an insane degree because they don't want to sell many of them and only have it available because people ask for it all the time...
...government subsidies to the "Big Meat" industry are so massive that FOUR piece of meat are considerably cheaper than ONE GardenBurger. If that's the case, this is bordering on criminal. Let's check Google here... and... yep. THIRTY-EIGHT BILLION A YEAR props up the meat and dairy industry. This is despite the fact that the meat industry is literally destroying the planet. It's also widely regarded as unhealthy and should only be eaten in moderation. And yet, here we are. I guess Big Pharma is working with Big Beef to push cheap meat so they can sell more pills (eating beef daily makes you TRIPLE more likely to get heart disease). And we (and, more directly, the children) are paying the massive cost with our health and our world.
But that's our government for you. Killing us for the profit they make from being bought off by industries that don't give a shit about us.
I suppose I should be used to it, but the fact that US citizens continue to sign off on this kind of crap never ceases to amaze me. "YES! KILL US SO YOU CAN GET RICH! DESTROY THE ENVIRONMENT TO LINE YOUR POCKETS! BETRAY THE PUBLIC TRUST AT EVERY TURN FOR MONEY! WE SUPPORT YOU!"
Eventually, I'm guessing that I'll cough up the NINE DOLLARS AND TWENTY CENTS that this thing costs just to satisfy my curiosity. I hope it's horrible. I don't have that kind of money to be throwing at a burger. And apparently the government is doing it for me already anyway.
I had to wake up fairly early this morning to check into work. Once I had some things handled, I had time for a leisurely shower and... surprise surprise... breakfast!
Beside myself with joy at the prospect of being able to actually have breakfast for once, I tried to think of what I wanted to eat. All that came into my head was the Fatburger I had when I arrived on Monday night. It was everything I could want in a meal. I thought I would look up Fatburger's hours to see if there was time to stop on my way to the airport.
Imagine my surprise when I found out that not only is Fatburger open 24/7... they are serving burgers all hours of the day and night!
Fatburger Veggie Burger for breakfast it was...
It was everything I dreamed it would be.
The weather has been really nice these past couple days. Warm and breezy, but not hot enough to be uncomfortable. It's almost enough to make me want to stay a couple more days. Almost.
This time around I'm staying at New York New York because it's where my friends were staying. It's also close enough to my work that I could walk instead of taking pricey taxis. It's a pretty nice hotel, even if the rooms are fairly basic. It certainly has my favorite skyline of all the Vegas Strip hotels...
My room was in that light orange tower, fourth from the right. I was actually on the North side facing The Park... something I didn't know until I finally looked out the window this morning...
1) I kept hearing "wooshing" sounds and assumed it was the wind. Turns out it's the roller coaster. The occasional sounds of people screaming were not people whooping it up on The Strip... but people riding said coaster.
2) The Park MGM hotel used to be The Monte Carlo. At the very top there is a "hotel within a hotel" with luxury suites that used to be called "Hotel32." I note that now the "hotel within a hotel" has been renamed "NoMad." I've actually been up there when it was Hotel32 and it was pretty spectacular (seriously, Google for photos of it). I can't imagine what it must look like after the remodel.
And now I'm at the airport waiting to fly home. As if that wasn't good enough news, I was upgraded to First Class for the flight home (which is pretty cool considering I was upgraded to First on the way down too...
And now it's time to head home so I can drive home!
I don't mind my allergies splitting my head apart thanks to everything in the valley blooming at the same time... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Thrones! I may be in the minority here, but I felt that the majority of the latest episode, The Battle of Winterfell, was embarrassingly bad. Everything was filmed so dark that it was almost impossible to see what was happening. Even worse, much of the action was shot way too close, so even if you could see what was happening, you couldn't tell what was going on anyway. They literally could have just skipped most of the episode, had somebody summarize what happened in two minutes, and the result would have been practically the same for me. Disappointing. Though I'll be the first to say that the ending was exactly what I wanted to see. w00t!
• Trek V2. The CGI effect upgrades they gave to old Star Trek episodes back in 2006 are pretty great. Definitely helps then to hold up for modern audiences. Recently I was watching Tomorrow is Yesterday for the hundredth time and found myself forgetting what the old effects looked like. So I looked it up on YouTube and found this...
Right off the bat I found something surprising...
ZOMG! PLEASE NOTE THAT THEY REVISED THEIR VIEW OF THE PLANET BECAUSE IN THE FUTURE THEY KNOW THAT THE EARTH IS FLAT!!!
• Vegetarianism Fail. When I first became a vegetarian back in 1986, eating out was a challenge. Pretty much all you could do was ask for a grilled cheese or try to find a salad without meat on it. Now-a-days it's so much easier. Except at my local "V.I.P." theater. Their big "thing" is wraps. They've got quit an assortment of them. Every last one of them with meat on it. Even the "Veggie Extreme" is SO EXTREME that it has chicken on it! Baller!
Since they didn't have a vegetarian option, I asked if they can substitute avocado for the chicken. Nope! But they can leave the chicken off and charge me $1.25 for avocado though! Fuckers. If you're not going to have a vegetarian-friendly option, at least allow a reasonable substitution!
And so... French fries it is. Except... it literally took them THREE TRIES to deliver my fries. They'd walk in the theater. Wander up and down the aisle. Then leave. Then come back. And then... it was only because I FLAGGED THEM DOWN that they managed to find me, even though I had to give them my row number when I ordered! Needless to say, my fries were cold... not "unwarm" BUT FUCKING COLD... by the time I got them. Pathetic. Some "V.I.P." experience.
• You Spin Me! Most of the time I scan the episodes of Fallon, Myers, Corden, and Kimmel on my DVR for the guest, then delete as many as I can. The only reason I watch is if there's a guest I want to see. Like Paul Rudd. And his appearance on Fallon did not disappoint. Paul and Jimmy remade Dead or Alive's You Spin Me Round...
For comparison's sake, here's the shot-for-shot next to the original...
• Let Them Implode. Long ago, back before I started weaving Buddhist precepts into my Path of Life and gave up weapons of violence, I was proud to be a member of the National Rifle Association. This was back when they were dedicated to promoting gun safety and advocated for reasonable restrictions when it came to allowing people access to firearms ALONG WITH defending Second Amendment rights. Now that they are a corrupt organization in the pocket of gun manufacturers who prey on people with nothing but fear and lies, I fucking detest the NRA and everything they stand for. Nothing would make me happier than to have the entire organization be flushed down the toilet like the fucking pieces of shit that they are. And take NRA cheerleader Dana Loesch with you. She's fucking garbage too. Bring back the NRA whose principles were rooted in responsible, safe gun ownership. If we can't have that, then please let the whole fucking thing implode.
• Wall Chowder. Every time I have to listen to bullshit about President Trump's MASSIVELY EXPENSIVE WALL... all I can think of is how drones powerful enough and large enough TO CARRY A PERSON OVER THE WALL ARE CURRENTLY USED FOR CONSTRUCTION! And, like everything tech-related, they are just going to get cheaper and cheaper and cheaper. Somebody in Mexico could buy a couple and earn a fortune FLYING PEOPLE OVER THE WALL. Make no mistake... Trump's wall is a stupid, STUPID, STUPID, FUCKING STUPID waste of money. Within 5 years it could be rendered obsolete. Or be obsolete within 10 minutes, considering tunneling under the fucking thing IS AS EASY AS DIGGING A FUCKING TUNNEL. And now I'm filled with rage. Again. Forget the horrendous damage to the environment and migrating species that will be severely impacted... WE CAN'T FUCKING AFFORD IT NOW THAT ALL OUR TAX REVENUE IS GOING TOWARDS TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY! Exactly how big of a fucking deficit do we need?
See you on the flip-side, bullet fans.
Back when I went vegetarian on Earth Day in 1988... some 29 years ago... it was not a terribly difficult decision. The girl I was dating was a vegetarian. I didn't like much meat anyway (outside of burgers, bacon, and pepperoni pizza), and there were some great "fake meats" hitting the market that I was able to substitute with little effort.
But there are times...
Back when we had a Burger King in town, I'd drive by the place while smelling the flame-cooked burgers filling the air, and give serious consideration to abandoning vegetarianism. Or I'd go to a breakfast buffet and see a big ol' plate of bacon and be transfixed... and be trying to resist shoving my face into the plate. Pepperoni was the worst. Pepperoni pizza. REAL pepperoni crisps up on the edges and forms little cups filled with meat oil that makes them about the most delicious thing you'll ever put in your mouth. And, unlike veggie burgers and veggie bacon that's "okay"... there is no acceptable pepperoni substitute that tastes anywhere close to the original.
If I ever fall off the vegetarian bandwagon, I can pretty much guarantee it will be over a pepperoni pizza.
What it won't be over is jerky.
Because there are some very good jerky substitutes out there, and I decided to take a look at some of the most highly-rated...
Photos taken from FakeMeats.com
Lightlife Meatless Smart Jerky: Original
Hands-down my favorite of the bunch. It's got a fantastic texture that retains a bit of the toughness that "real" jerky has, but won't rip your teeth out. The shreds are compressed into square-isa pieces, which also makes them easy to eat. Unlike so many fake jerky products, the flavor is subtle. They aren't trying to blast through your tastebuds to conceal the fact that you're not eating meat. This is a mild jerky that counts on subtle notes of a sweet and smoky barbecue sauce for flavor instead of piling on the heat to obliterate it. If it weren't for the 480mg sodium per ounce, you could eat it all day! (though high sodium is typical for these products).
TASTE: ★★★★★ • TEXTURE: ★★★★★
Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.: Maple Bacon
Despite my not tasting much maple or bacon flavor in the maple bacon variety, this is a very good brand of jerky. Perhaps a touch sweeter than I'd like, but nothing horrible. I do get a slight soy flavor lingering on my palette, but not offensively so... it's certainly better that than an over-flavored jerky! The texture is pleasing... not too tough, not too soft. Pieces are randomly shaped into strips that are meant to resemble actual jerky, so if you're transitioning, this might be a good brand to start. Sodium is a typical 480mg per ounce.
TASTE: ★★★★☆ • TEXTURE: ★★★★☆
Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.: Smoked Black Pepper
Despite being the same brand as above, the texture is softer/spongier for some reason, and I'm not getting as great a "jerky experience." It's like the jerky is soggy or something. The smoke and black pepper elements are there, as promised, but most of what I'm tasting here is salt. It's only 20mg more than the Maple Bacon (500mg vs. 480mg) but after eating it for a while, that's all I can taste. Would be a better jerky if they could toughen up the texture (like Maple Bacon) and take out salt while adding a touch more black pepper.
TASTE: ★★★☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★☆☆☆
May Wah Vegan Beef Jerky
This Chinese jerky has an interesting texture that's more "shredded" than other brands. I like it... but it also gets stuck in my teeth. The flavor is... odd... not really barbecue or smoke, though I get a hint of something similar. It's got a definite mustard element floating in there... and it's going in more of a sweet than spicy direction. Overall I don't dislike it... it's definitely different and tasty... it just isn't hitting my "jerky button" the way I'd like.
TASTE: ★★☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★★☆☆
Stonewall's Jerquee: Original Mild
Stonewall's was my first vegetarian jerky. I had never tasted anything like it, and was buying it by the case at my local health food store. Then... after a year or so... something changed with the flavors. The "Original Mild" ended up with a horribly bitter flavor that left a nasty soy aftertaste. And while the texture is weird and spongy, I always ignored it because I liked the flavor so much. Now, after a decade of avoiding the stuff, I decided to try it again. Same thing. Same spongy texture. Same bitter flavor and soy aftertaste.
TASTE: ★☆☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★☆☆☆
Stonewall's Jerquee: Original Wild
Same as above, except they pile on peppers and spices to add some heat. The heat does quash the bitter notes a bit, but I really don't like the end result.
TASTE: ★☆☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★☆☆☆
Stonewall's Jerquee: Peppy Pepperoni
Back in the day, I thought the "pepperoni" flavor was pretty good. But now it's added to the same bitterness that has taken over the rest of the Stonewall's line and, even worse, has been made scorching spicy hot. So hot that any "pepperoni" notes are obliterated. If I wanted this flavor, I'd just drink a smokey hot sauce directly from the bottle.
TASTE: ☆☆☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★☆☆☆
Primal Strips: Texas BBQ
This stuff is tough, like real jerky, but they inexplicably soak it in sauce, so it ends up being more like a tough strip of meat in marinade than actual jerky. Your teeth will slide over the wet before you can get a bite, and even then you may not be able to bite all the way through on the first chomp. The flavor is not bad at all... it's definitely a sweet barbecue variety flavor... but once you get past the sugary-sweetness it's a little bland, having very little smoke elements.
TASTE: ★☆☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ☆☆☆☆☆
That's it for this round. As I discover more great vegetarian jerky options, I'll update the list.
And if you're looking to purchase any of these products, you can get them all via one-stop-shopping from the good people at FakeMeats.com!
Living in the wilds of Reneckistan as I do, there are certain pros and cons that one has to accept. In the "pros" column are things like "no traffic" and "breathable air." In the "cons" list are things like "NO TRADER JOE'S FOR YOU!"
I love awesome grocery stores. Stores like Wegman's... Mariano's... and (more logical for my area) Trader Joe's. Mostly because awesome grocery stores have a terrific selection of interesting vegetarian foods that your typical grocery chain does not. In the case of Trader Joe's, it's things like their amazing black bean and jack cheese burrito... or their frozen pizzas... or their frozen tamales... or their veggie chili... or their soy chorizo... or their veggie spring rolls... or their veggie wraps... or their toasted almond slivers... or their... well, you get the picture.
A considerably better selection of great foods I can eat than what I have access to now.
But, alas, the nearest Trader Joe's is 2-1/2 hours away.
Which is why I regularly send store requests like this one to corporate...
I'm tired of having to drive 2-1/2 hours to shop at Trader Joe's! Is the reason you don't have a store in Wenatchee because our locations have too much parking available?
I suppose I should explain about the parking thing.
Trader Joe's are smaller stores. They carry a fraction of the products that a "regular" store does. Because of this, they are often built in smaller spaces. And, given their popularity, there's never enough parking spots.
At least for the half-dozen stores I've been to.
I was just sitting here watching the latest episode of The Talk, craving something from Trader Joe's, and felt you should feel my pain.