MINNEAPOLIS-- Kale Walch, along with his sister Aubry Walch, currently demonstrate their cooking of delicious meatless meats for The Herbivorous Butcher, in preparation for opening the world's first vegan butcher shop.
The Herbivorous Butcher got it's start at a Minneapolis Farmer's Market, and recently launched what is being referred to as "the most successful Kickstarter campaign ever" to open the store. Aubry was brought up on the island of Guam, before relocating in Minnesota with her family as a teenager. She has fond memories of Guam in the form of the tropical climate, the colorful fiestas, and multiple meats on the dinner table.
She says that she ate no vegetables until she was ten years old, when she tried a cold salad combining greens with (what else?) meat. However, by the time she reached eighteen, Aubry had become a staunch vegetarian. Kale is now a vegan. They both stopped eating meat on ethical and environmental grounds-- not because they didn't enjoy the taste.
As a matter of fact, the sibs felt almost forced to create vegan recipes for their favorite meat dishes because they missed them so much. Their first creation, believe it or not? Veggie Bologna. When the Walchs were growing up, their father would make fried bologna with fried rice, and this soon became a child-friendly favorite. Who'd have known that years later, the brother and sister team would run The Herbivorous Butcher, selling meatless meats like: salami, bacon, pepperoni, and a host of others. Even in the upper Midwest, the duo's products are so tasty, that they claim to run out of food each and every week.
Unlike actual meat products created in other parts of the world, they are proud of the fact that their customers know exactly what ingredients are contained in their meatless bologna, for example. The cholesterol-free meatless meat that they produce is made primarily of wheat gluten, an array of spices and other ingredients, which together produce the taste and texture extremely reminiscent of regular meat. For instance, pinto beans and sun-dried tomatoes are used for Italian sausage, and pineapple juice to produce vegan ham. However, the one product which they have been unable to reproduce so far? Spam.
It remains their dream. A lofty, salty goal, which strangely ties their Guam roots to their current Minnesota lifestyle.
Spam is a prime favorite on Guam, where it was first introduced by US soldiers. The odd processed meat is now an integral part of many local recipes and is even sold by the local McDonald's. Minnesota is no stranger to the Spam phenomena, because Austin, Minnesota is actually the Spam headquarters of America. Aubry and Kale have tried to make a version incorporating ingredients such as tapioca flour and peanut butter, and though the flavor is fine, the texture is not quite right. The brother and sister team are keen on perfecting spam so that they can make a popular recipe from Guam, called Spam Misubi. This is a sushi style roti, made out of Spam and seaweed. The Walchs want the island to be proud of their specially-crafted vegan version.
The Herbivorous Butcher store will be the first of its kind anywhere in the world. By the time they open, the siblings hope to have mastered the recipe for meatless Spam. Fingers crossed.