tempeh, i can’t believe i haven’t always loved you

Seasoned tempeh sticks from Portland’s own Paradox Organic Cafe, crispy sticks shot with a light, sweet sauce (I shake off the excess), served with a very optional peanut sauce. Five years ago I wouldn’t have come near these things. Five years ago I was an idiot.

I now eat tempeh in some form once or twice a week. Tacos, fakey BLTs, stir-fry, barbecue, for such a hearty substance, these mashed-together, fermented soybeans are surprisingly versatile. And I respect tempeh for being meaty without trying to be meat. It’s not overly processed chik-un or wheef (I think I just made that up) or (s)ham.

No, tempeh’s the sweetheart nerdy underdog who holds true to himself. The perfect tempeh is hard on the outside yet tender on the inside. Tempeh knows how to party, but he also just likes to snuggle up with his kitten or read in the tub. If tempeh were in a very special episode of <insert 80s family sitcom here>, he would help his best friend get over that budding alcohol problem or eating disorder. Tempeh’s not afraid to let you see him crumble. Some people are all too quickly turned off by tempeh, but that’s cool—they’ll just never see the abs he’s hiding underneath that sweater vest. Wait, what?!

 

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