Three years ago was when I first encountered jackfruit on a restaurant menu. Just because it had the word fruit didn’t mean it was used in a dessert capacity. The jackfruit was the star of a vegetarian carnitas dish, indeed, as a substitute for shredded pork. The fibrous nature of the tropical fruit, plus the fact that it was neutral-flavored and crisped easily, made jackfruit a believable stand-in for pork. It was one of the earliest times where a vegetarian rendition of a meat dish actually improved on the original. So often as a spoiled carnivore, I feel cheated eating these vegetarian copycats. This may be happening less and less.
This last decade has seen great strides in replicating meats with non-animal ingredients. Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger come awfully close in making a beef burger patty taste like the real thing.
Now comes word that the mighty cantaloupe is being groomed as a possible meat substitute. Thrillist contributor (and friend of The Takeout) Max Falkowitz profiles chef Will Horowitz of New York’s Ducks Eatery, who has concocted a cantaloupe burger that is, in the words of Falkowitz: “voluptuously smoky, with the unmistakable mineral twang of dry-aging, it sends a river of juice down your chin each time you take a bite. It tugs at your teeth in the way you’d expect from animal muscle and feels like meat.”
The whole story is worth your time, if just for the fascinating process Horowitz employs to transform cantaloupe to something tasting and resembling meat. Falkowitz writes:
It’s rich and smoky, like brisket with whispers of black pepper, pine, and a roasted pumpkin. It tastes nothing like cantaloupe.
Color us intrigued.