As the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, thoughts turn to outdoor activities, hiking, and jerky.
That’s not exactly true—I’m no more a hiker than I am a skydiving aficionado, which is to say, never. But I do like a snack while driving through the wonders of nature, and lately I’ve noticed an embarrassment of non-beef dried alternatives that are fascinating.
Kaimana Jerky of Hawaii makes several flavors of ahi tuna and marlin jerky. Michael Pan makes shiitake mushroom jerky in Illinois based on his Malaysian family recipes. Wash it down with a cuppa coffee from Venice, California’s Four Sigmatic, made with Cordyceps, Chaga and Lion’s Mane mushrooms.
The Newport Jerky Company is drying sliced Moroccan octopus, python, earthworms, snapping turtle, kangaroo, alligator and ostrich for their varieties of sticks and strips. Or perhaps their hammerhead shark or camel jerky, or the “Roadkill Summer Sausage” would appeal, with a side dish of black scorpion.
The Cricket Flours company in Portland, Oregon, makes actual flour from crickets (it’s gluten free!), along with dried spicy mealworms and five flavors of roasted crickets.
A company called Akua even has a Kickstarter to raise $25,000 to make and market jerky made from mineral and vitamin-rich ocean-farmed sugar kelp from New England.
In other, non-meat related news, the massive Sonic Drive-In chain has jumped on the Culinary Institute of America’s “Menus of Change” initiative and will be serving blended beef-mushroom burgers, with up to 30 percent mushrooms in the mix offered from all of its 3,500 drive-in restaurants. The all-plant Impossible Burger (you know, the one that bleeds) is being served at Wahlburgers and the Toasted outlets, and plant and grain-based Frankensteinian amalgams Beyond and “Raw” burgers can be found at Costco, Walmart and Whole Foods Market.
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