Lord of the Lies, or, Why I’m a Prick About Fake Meat

Yesterday the Prick went and got in all sorts of trouble because he went and, in the middle of an otherwise perfectly innocuous restaurant post, hanged shit on The Smiths, a band whose many fans apparently form a very tight Venn diagram with the somewhat less legion readers of this site. Honestly, it was just a throw-away line to set up an animal-titty joke, but the Prick has learnt that there are certain third rails not to be touched.

So while the man may have said never apologise, never explain, today’s target shall nonetheless be a safer one. Vegetarians, to be precise, and a Melbourne-based fast-food chain called “Lord of the Fries” to be more so.

Now in all honesty the Prick has nothing against vegetarians and even married one first time around (laugh if you must, but then you’ll never find out the secret to getting the best flavour out of a mushroom).

As the business’s name suggests their fries are said to be lovely, despite not being triple-fried in duck fat. Even dedicated carnivores seem to vouch for them. Well, great. Half your luck, but that’s not the issue.

The issue the Prick has is with the whole ersatz-meat thing and their menu being full of things like “chick’n” patties and “veg bacon” and alleged “hot dogs” (the fillings of which are admittedly mysterious at the best of times).

Mrs Prick generally does the law-talkin’ around here but the whole concept seems to sail close to the winds of Section 52 of the Trade Practices Act – the bit which deals with misleading or deceptive conduct. While not accusing anyone of misconduct, it does feel as though plastering signs up all over one’s shop advertising the best burgers in the universe or words to that effect (when burgers are popularly understood to be made of meat) and then not letting the uninitiated in on the joke until they’ve reached the front of the queue isn’t completely kosher.

The Prick walked by the new LOTF on George Street today – they’ve just made their first inroad into Sydney from their Melbourne base – and there was a helluva crowd of people trying to get a feed. It looked like a scene out of Moscow circa 1982, or the Bourke Street Bakery in 2013 (and really, we won the Cold War so we could line up for bread!?).

How many of these punters were lured in by signs promising fantastic burgers, only to be told their only option was hippy food?

Or worse, went away with a “chick’n” burger thinking the spelling was just sort of cutesy-poo illiterate, a la America’s infamous Chick-fil-A, only to realise they’d become the victims of gastronomic evangelists?

It is a debate the Prick has had a few times, but the crux of the issue comes down to this: If you like a burger, have a damn burger. Don’t try and make a pale imitation of a burger, tell us all how great it is, and climb up on a high horse about it. This is why the Prick won’t be visiting, even just for fries, anytime soon.

And if you don’t want to eat meat for whatever reason, fine. The Prick can respect that. But if that is your thing, own it: After all, what about all these wonderful, diverse, flavourful and nutritious vegetarian and vegan recipes we keep hearing about? The best meatless dishes in town make no apologies for themselves.

Because while we regularly see people trying to come up with imitation meat products, it is pretty rare that – outside the labs of clever clogs like Heston Blumenthal – we ever see anyone trying to do an imitation vegetable. There is apparently a vegan “butcher” in Newtown which again works on the same imitation-meat principles as Lord of the Fries and which even sells imitation egg yolks like something of a chow-line joke on M*A*S*H but this time as a status symbol and signalling device.

Yet you’ll never see a carnivorous fruit-and-veg stand with apples that are really bacon (dear God there’s an idea) or potatoes that are really veal.

This suggests which direction the tide is really running on this issue and who really wants more of what the other has got. Without mixing metaphors too atrociously, it would seem that the grass is greener on the grass-fed side of the fence.

If there are any readers left by the end of this, maybe I can promise a nice, innocuous polenta recipe on the weekend? Maybe even with that little mushroom trick.

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17 Responses to Lord of the Lies, or, Why I’m a Prick About Fake Meat

  1. Free Advice says:

    I love “How soon is now” and “Panic” from the mid late 80s Smiths, but I do agree that Morrissy is a bit of a tosser. Probably living with his mother in Guilford! But Johnny Marr is the bomb.
    In the top ten guitarists of all time.

    • Mel says:

      You’ve just named the two most obvious and popular singles. Now run along and listen to the rest of the catalogue. I agree with you about Marr, though.

      • Free Advice says:

        Listen to his guitar on the Modest Mouse song “Little Motel”, it’s amazing. Just you tube it. Meanwhile sorry Prick to use your site as a Pop music forum but as they say, you started it!

  2. TimT says:

    Hey don’t blame us LOTF came from New Zealand!

    Anyway, much better vego eats in Melbourne at the Vege Bar in Fitzroy, Soul Food in Collingwood or whatsitsname, I think it’s Soul Mama in St Kilda. Perfectly good treats of a vegetable nature can also be found at Ceres in Brunswick. LOTF’s fake meat fry bit thingos are absolutely *disgusting* and put to shame that treat that can be enjoyed by vegans and vegetarians and omnivores alike, the glorious deep fried potato chip.

    Related: I suppose you saw that snippet recently about a scientifically developed ‘fake meat’ burger being cooked in London as a burger – costing tens of thousands of pounds for a single burger! Aside from the exhorbitant cost, it’s not something that will attract a discerning vegetarian at all – I understand they take meat from a live animal to start growing their fake meat!

    By the way, for the purposes of this post, I am an ‘outraged Melburnian’, not an ‘outraged vegetarian’. I eat far too much meat to fall into the latter category 😉

  3. anon says:

    “Morrissy is a bit of a tosser”

    A “bit”? A “BIT”?

    He’s a bit more than a “bit” of a tosser. He’s a total tosser. But he did make a few good albums.

  4. Craig Mc says:

    TimT – don’t forget Shakahari in Carlton.

  5. Free Advice says:

    I think that, at the end of the day, if you want good vegetarian food just go to any decent middle eastern or greek restaurant and don’t order meat dishes. Vegetarian restaurants like Shakahari put those hippy herbs in their dishes that taste like the way patchouli smells.

  6. Stan says:

    Spot on. I hate mock meat but am partial to the occasional vegetarian dish when the cook is playing to the strength of the veg, not making it taste like meat. Eg, most south indian dishes. BTW, the TPA is superseded. You now need to refer to section 18 of the Australian Consumer Law for misleading or deceptive conduct.

  7. How to get the best flavour out of a mushroom? – easy, pinch of curry powder. Can I now mock for marrying a vegetarian now? LMAO

    • chiefprick says:

      Well, I was gonna say “Don’t toss them in the pan, but let them just sit and get good colour”, but curry powder’s an interesting move too. Mock, gently.

  8. Sasha says:

    Quite so. I feel the same way about faux fur. If you object on moral grounds to fur, you shouldn’t wear fake fur, because it endorses the whole fur concept. Likewise, imitation meat is an implicit admission that meat is tasty and deserves to be emulated.

    I have eaten at LOTF in Melbourne, and I recall them making a pseudo-poutine that was quite tasty. However, I now realize that it was probably made with fake cheese and vegetable gravy, so retroactive yuck.

  9. Sasha says:

    not letting the uninitiated in on the joke until they’ve reached the front of the queue isn’t completely kosher.

    Actually the advertise on their site that they are both kosher AND halal. How scrupulously PC.

  10. Well said about all the imitation meat stuff. I don’t get fake meat, eat the real thing or just eat vegetables. The choices are clear.

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