Today I decided to swing through the Whole Foods for a few vegan alternatives to things I'd ordinarily use. I came home with flax seeds, vegan mayo, nutritional yeast flakes, and a cream cheese substitute.

I've already tried one-- the cream cheese substitute. I chose the chives flavor, since I recall from past experience that often the plain Frankenfoods taste too bizarre for me to deal with, and sometimes the added favors sufficiently mask the weirdness to enjoy them. It was not so in this case. Not that I don't suspect the flavored spread is better than plain, I certainly do think I made the right choice in that respect. But in this case, the added flavor is not enough to overcome the ick factor.

When I saw the tub of "vegan cream cheese substitute" I had my hopes up, it wasn't trying to emulate "real" cheese, after all, I did not need it to melt or anything, how bad could it be? Fairly bad, in my opinion. I put a smear on my homemade sourdough bread, and the first thing I noticed was a pronounced "off" taste. If it were the real thing, I'd have to think about what would be giving it the off flavor had it picked up fridge flavors? was it too old? were the chives bad? But in this case of course I knew the answer right away, it tasted off since it was made from oil instead of milk. It tasted oily instead of creamy. Which is not bad for something like a tapenade. But for this, well, it seemed like they were trying to coax a creamy flavor from the oil, and failing. I am undecided if I will try to cook with and see if I like it better over pasta or something, or if I will just throw it out.

For breakfast, I was in a hurry and just sliced a few pieces of my bread and smeared them with some of the black bean paste I made a few days ago. I was very satisfied with my breakfast at the time, and in retrospect even more so, since my own spread was vastly superior in taste to the stuff I just bought. Yet I really don't see much like it in the prepared foods section of Whole Foods. They do have a million varieties of hummus, but at exorbitant prices. My bean spreads cost less than $2 for a big old batch, and that's using canned beans, I presume it would be even less if I could be bothered to soak and cook the beans myself. The WF ones were $4 for a small container, $6 for the large. I guess my batches are usually about the same size as their large container. I wonder if they only offer varieties of hummus because that is something the average consumer is familiar with and will accept, or because people really prefer the taste of spreads made with garbanzo beans over those made with other types of bean. I like hummus and all, but without the added flavorings it can be dull. I actually like the added flavors I achieve in my own spreads from using various types of beans.

Threw it out

I tried it again the next day, as a topping for a bean cake. I thought maybe if I paired it with a food that was spicy I wouldn't notice the off flavor. No such luck, it was still gross. So I pitched the entire container rather than insult my taste buds again.

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