An adventurer, storyteller and writer with an insatiable curiosity for the fresh, the bizarre, the brilliant. Exploring life in North East England and elsewhere.

The Quornfields of Stockton — Did I hear someone say, ‘Vegetarian Paradise’?

The Quornfields of Stockton — Did I hear someone say, ‘Vegetarian Paradise’?

Memories of burnt foil parcels of buttery sweet corn and the fluffy white peaks of mieliepap drifted into Cat’s dreams. No African cat can forget this particularly versatile white goodness in its various forms: the crumbly snow drops of maize drenched in tomato and onion sauce, or the milky porridge, swirls of honey and butter decorating its surface — a corny cappuccino. Cat went out looking for corn. Instead she found herself gazing out over Quornfields.

The snippet of my first restaurant experience in the UK gave an inexcusably brief impression of the gateway to the North’s ‘vegetarian paradise’ : The Waiting Room. But a full appreciation of The Waiting Room will have to wait. I now turn to a rather recent discovery of a stepping stone into the Atlantis of meat-free living. Yes, you guessed it, I am referring to the Fusarium venenatan-derived mycoprotein otherwise known as Quorn.

It took a couple of supermarket expeditions before I got round to the vegetarian section (I confess, I always got stuck in the cheese aisle or the wine aisle for the greater part of my expedition). When at last I had a chance to survey the assortment of vegetarian delights, I was stupefied. You can get just about any meat dish meat-free: meat-free mince, meat-free chicken fillets, meat-free sausages, meat-free burger patties, meat-free hotdogs, meat-free gammon steaks, meat-free bacon rashers, meat-free turkey slices, meat-free pepperoni, and that is not even half Quorn’s got to offer.

The development of this sci-fiesque meat alternative was inspired by a prediction in the 1960s that there would one day be a shortage of protein-rich foods and, who knows, perhaps one day we’ll all by living off of Quorn. But the history and production of this special filamentous fungus can be read elsewhere.

What is more interesting to know is ‘What can we make with Quorn?’

Chilli Con Carne Tacos: My First Step to Becoming a Quorn Chef

Cat ran home with a bag of Quorn mince, a Mexican vihuela and hat. With the holy grail of vegetarian cooking, a couple of other ingredients and a shot of tequila, her training began…

Nothing as beautiful as soaking kidney beans — the holy grail of vegetarian cooking

Nothing as beautiful as soaking kidney beans — the holy grail of vegetarian cooking

Before:

In progress...

Surely this is real mince?

Surely this is real mince?

After:

First time filling my own taco — messy, messy, messy

First time filling my own taco — messy, messy, messy

As soon as Cat’s teeth crunched into the crispy giant Big Corn Bite, the Greek yoghurt dripping onto her fingers, the pursuit of the perfect taco photo was forgotten. Crunch.

Interesting fact #1: Cat’s new home is where Quornfields grow (Quorn’s production headquarters is located in Teesside and North Yorkshire)

Interesting fact #2: The nu metal band Korn was established in the same year as Quorn went into distribution in the UK in 1993

(Want to try the recipe? You can find it here).

Snapshots of a Stray Cat in Macedonia

Snapshots of a Stray Cat in Macedonia

Dissolving the Boundaries of Theatre — Cat's First Play at the ARC

Dissolving the Boundaries of Theatre — Cat's First Play at the ARC