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Guest Post: Lisa Salinger

Creative Thinking … It Tastes Just Like Chicken

Originally Published June 05, 2016 on BlindAlive by Lisa Salinger

Veggie topped pizza with broccoli, tomatoes, yellow and red peppers, and cheeseHave you noticed how many things are said to taste “just like chicken?” From frog legs to tofu turkey, to alligator meat, the refrain is the same: “It tastes just like chicken.” I doubt that anyone is actually gullible enough to believe this. After all, nothing tastes exactly like chicken except for, well, chicken. So why do we say it? My unproven theory is that we want to compare something that’s new and unfamiliar to something we know and like, or even love. It’s why parents tell children that their liquid medicine tastes just like candy. The parents know it’s not true, but to them, the health benefits of taking the medicine are preferable to the consequences.

I’ll never forget my first taste of whole wheat pizza with vegan cheese. A delivery order to my office had been confused, and we ended up with four of these pizzas, and only one traditional one. Some of my coworkers were not pleased, but they were hungry, so they dug in. Comments followed quickly. “This doesn’t taste like pizza. It’s awful!”

A friend of mine sometimes refers to me as Polly the Peacemaker. Polly is for Pollyanna, who always looks on the bright side, and peacemaker comes from the fact that I’m happiest when everyone in my world is getting along. So you can see why I couldn’t just let the negativity continue.
“That’s because it’s not really pizza,” I said. Only something that sounded so offbeat would stop the conversation in its tracks.

“I don’t really think of it as pizza. If I did, I’d be really disappointed. I think of it as Vegan flatbread, and it’s pretty good. The crust is different, but it’s kind of nutty, and it has texture, and the cheese doesn’t taste like standard Mozzarella, but it’s a nice mix with the veggies that are on top.”

If you feel like you’re just eating a healthier version of pizza, and you don’t really like it, you’ll just feel cheated, or at least I have. But set that notion aside, and maybe substitute a mental script like, “I am making healthy choices and am enjoying Vegan flatbread.” It may just sound like a game of semantics, but why not recognize the unique differences of each food you try? After all, not everything tastes like chicken, and that is as it should be.

If you’ve found a helpful food substitution or a mental trick that works for you, please let us know. You can always respond via social media or on our Facebook group.

5 thoughts on “Guest Post: Lisa Salinger”

  1. I had my own pre-school years ago and made lunch for the children. Occasionally wed have Rama soup with miso, green onions and tofu. I’d serve it on their red plastic drinking glasses and called it blueberry milkshakes. They loved it 🙂

  2. Marketing ploys at their finest have us thinking we’re getting one thing yet the end product is something unexpected. Word games were never a strong suit of mine and if I have to dig or decipher the true meaning I lose interest or in the case of a food if I was expecting one thing and got something different I just won’t eat it.

  3. Hear, hear! My favorite ” pet peeve” with vegan food is the fact that most cookbooks and restaurants and recipes will use a name which makes it familiar to people, but is not accurate . And as you wrote, then people are not happy because that creates expectations which in turn create disappointment. For example a vegan recipe will say “cheesecake”… but in reality it’s not a cheesecake, it’s a cashew pie. It’s delicious but if you are expecting cheesecake – you might not be too happy with something which then becomes a substitute for the “real thing.” And the worst culprits are those fake meat things! I actually don’t want my food to be called meat and I certainly don’t want it to taste like it either. Let’s call a spade a spade and a vegetable pie a vegetable pie!


  4. Right, I know if I’m hungry for a specific pizza and I get any other kind of version it just doesn’t work out that way for me. When my hunger is involved I will get irritated and a substitute typically doesn’t work. Although if I’m not so hungry and was anticipating a regular pizza and something different showed up, I might find the substitute a little more palatable. But I’m a picky eater so I’m already prepared not to like something I’m not familiar with.

  5. That is a good way to look at it. I still don’t think I would like it, but at least the mental “sensory picture” of pizza wouldn’t prevent you from liking it. It’s like, one day I ordered a bottled water and got strawberry flavored instead. It looked like water, but tasted like strawberries and was NOT what I was expecting. I couldn’t stomach it and had to throw it away. Now, had it been pink and I was expecting it to taste like strawberries, it might have made a difference. I’ll never know, but it might have.

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