Impossible Foods was handing out free vegan burgers this Sunday in SF's Mission District. I think it tasted pretty good but so do a lot of vegan burgers. I was disappointed to find it served drenched in mayo (perhaps some product that a Hampton Creek employee forgot to buy back) and the red color from plant derived leghemoglobin (meant to remind people of the hemoglobin in blood that they eat in meat) is barely noticeable to my eyes. It had a certain soft chewiness that was nice, but there is no free lunch when it comes to taste, it was pretty easy to guess how they did it (not that it was particularly remarkable).
Food is pretty simple stuff at the end of the day, we generally pull it out of the ground, heat it and maybe put some salt on it before it gets homogenized in our stomachs. Taste, however, has always been a matter of marketing; a rich, luscious, velvety lather of lies that wraps around each individual tastebud like a cozy blanket woven from dreams and deceit. A glass of milk may make you more like your favorite athlete from the pantheon of sportsreligion. Some of your favorite rappers tell you they get their mad flows from pouring a Sprite bottle. You aren't a true patriot unless you enjoy barbecued meat every once in awhile.
Impossible Foods isn't any different. Maybe, just maybe, we can press all the dreams of Silicon Valley into a small, chewy disc and then sell it for everyone to ingest and make that dream a part of themselves. The ingredients are simple enough: take one famous Stanford professor with an M.D. and Ph. D., some vague promise of environmentally friendly food and serve at some exclusive sounding places with a nice margin. Add a blessing from Bill Gates and you've got marketing.
You can roll up a ball of fat, salt and glutamate just about any way you like and it will taste good. Saturated fats (the kinds that solidify at room temperature like coconut oil, butter and lard) taste especially good and add desirable smooth texture. Impossible Burgers come in at 54% of your RDI of saturated fat (from coconut oil). Most other veggie burgers I like come in at about a tenth of that per serving. Amy's California Burger and Field Roast Apple Sage Sausage are my favorites. That's really all that there is to it. You can bioinformatically deep learn food all day long if you want but the secret to making stuff taste good is just big fat ball of good 'ol fashioned salespersonship.