Food News

An Ode to Whole Food's Fake Chicken Salad

Dear Fake Chick'n Salad,

That was your name once, wasn't it? Or should I call you Classic Vegan Salad, as your label now reads when I walk into Whole Foods for lunch? The new moniker is certainly more honest -- you never contained any chicken at all -- but it lacks a certain sex appeal. Maybe you could give Chicken Saladesque a go in a few test markets? Or how about Salade du Chix?

But what's in a name? What's important is that you're delicious, or at least you are on the handicapped health-food scale, where you fall significantly behind the Mediterranean trifecta of hummus, tabbouleh and grilled lean proteins but well ahead of savory green juices. I attribute a significant portion of my well being to my regular consumption of you.

"So, how are you not fat?" I get the question nine out of 10 times someone discovers what my job is, and I never give a very good answer. Now I have you to thank, at least partly, for not ballooning outwards like Violet Beauregarde. I spend a lunch or two a week stuffing you by the forkful into my mouth and I'm starting to note your benefits.

There are no fewer than 20 ingredients printed on your label and not one of them contains cholesterol. I can almost feel my arteries relax every time I grab a container from the fridge. You may have the appeal of day-old bread, but you're quite filling. A small portion for lunch stays with me the entire day, and even suppresses my hunger as I get closer to dinner, despite that tofu products are low in calories and high in protein.

You are not chicken salad in any way -- the idea of heaping you on sliced toast with lettuce and tomato seems a bit like torture, while eating you with crackers would be much too dry. Still, you're fine enough on your own, straight from your plastic container, where I can enjoy the occasional grassy bite of green onion or snap of celery.

You may be fake, but you balance out all the burgers and Reubens I consume, and for that I salute you. May everyone who doesn't know Chick'n, er... Classic Vegan Salad come to know you soon.