Question from M.C., Moorooka, QLD
Illustration by Simon Letch.Credit:
A: Fundamentally, there’s nothing uncool about putting bacon on a tofu burger. Plenty of dishes combine tofu and meat products: tofu and pork stir-fry; tofu and seafood laksa; tofu and whatever’s flaking off the unwashed scalp of the dreadlocked chef at Tofu Eclipse of the Heart.
Uncoolness would only arise if you ate a tofu-bacon burger in the company of tofu-loving vegetarians: they would be appalled that anyone would want to taint the scrumptious tastelessness of wet, waddish bean curd with the disgustingly salty, smoky, fatty umami of crispy, fried pig flesh.
This is a Culturally Insensitive Culinary Mashup Crime – and it doesn’t have to just involve tofu (although 92 per cent of cases do). For instance, if you are dining with Jewish people, you never put ham on a bagel because a bagel is a Jewish bread, and ham is not kosher, and the combination will not only upset your dining companions, the bagel itself will weep cream-cheese tears of self-loathing.
To avoid Culturally Insensitive Food Mashup Crimes, pay attention to who you’re with, where you are, and what foods you’re mashing together. That means no parmesan on a seafood pasta when in Italy, no sushi burritos when eating with Japanese-Mexicans, and no sultanas in a curry when cooking for Indians, regardless of how authentic your Anglo-Aussie nana says her recipe is. That said, if you’re with tofu-loving vegetarians and you’re hankering for a bacon burger, just flip the mashup around. Start off with a bacon burger, then ask for tofu with it. Tofu folk will love you for that. They may even jump up and hug you, if they can muster the energy.
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