defense of Tofu
by Corrin Strong
"To the American mind, the concept of 'bean curd'
dredges up a phantasmal orgy of nightmarish images of foul-smelling cheeses and
large, hairy spiders."
1/25/96 Clarion News
Tofu has been getting a bad rap. This delicious and nutritious
food has been the butt of more bad jokes than Dan Quayle. I realized things were
getting out of hand, recently, when tofu showed up in a column by humorist Dave
Barry. (I'm not making this up!)
I'd be willing to bet that the majority of
people who make fun of tofu have never even tasted it. Tofu, a mainstay of Chinese
cooking for centuries, is a high protein, low fat, low carbohydrate, no cholesterol
food derived from that good old American farm product the soybean.
it is practically tasteless, but it readily absorbs the flavor of whatever it
is cooked with. Because of it's chewy texture it can be made to taste remarkably
like chicken or other meat products, and as an ingredient in a vegetable stir
fry (my personal favorite) it is delectable.
And yet the stigma seems almost
universal. If your children are anything like mine, they will roll their eyes
and turn up their noses at the mere mention of the word. Why is this?
theory is that the problem is largely linguistic and stems from what I call the
"Little Miss Muffet Syndrome." You remember the poor lass who had the
misfortune of having an arachnid sit down beside her.
It seems that at the
time she was eating "curds and whey", something we don't do much anymore.
(Come to think of it we don't sit around on tuffets much either.) Not many people
could even tell you what curds are except that they have something to do with
"curdling," the process by which milk turns sour and nasty.
tofu has very little to do with all this, if someone is open-minded enough to
ask just what exactly tofu is, unfortunately, the almost universal answer is,
"You know, bean curd." This is no help at all.
To the American
mind , the concept of "bean curd" dredges up a phantasmal orgy of nightmarish
images of foul-smelling cheeses and large hairy spiders. No wonder they run screaming
for the exits.
The reputation of tofu was further damaged by the publication
of a book some years ago titled, "Real men don't eat quiche." Although
the book had nothing to do with tofu, it was about a foul-smelling food with a
funny sounding foreign name, and somehow (again probably based on the Miss Muffet
factor) people seemed to make a connection.
I discovered this recently when
I asked a young friend to stop by Wegmans, and pick up a pack of my favorite ready-to-eat
snack, Soy Boy's Tofu Lin, "a flavorfully marinated and baked organic tofu,"
as it says on the package. This person (who's name and sex will be withheld for
his own protection), looked at me in utter terror and said, "But what if
somebody sees me buying it?" (Again, I'm not making this up.)
did return with the tofu and his manhood still largely intact, but only after
having to explain to the checkout girl that the tofu really wasn't for him. It's
time we put an end to this paranoia!
As a confirmed tofu-eater I 'm going
to let you in on a little secret. Not only is tofu great tasting and good for
you, it also does wonders for your sex life. In fact, there is a secret Chinese
sect of tofu imbibers who. . . but that's another story. Suffice is to say that,
"Real men do eat tofu." Just ask me!
to Clarion Main Page