This week, we're delving into the pizza toppings realm. I saw Lightlife's Smart Deli Pepperoni when I was at the co-op picking up fake turkey ingredients, and was eager to try them out. I'm a fairly moderate pepperoni fan, to begin with. My wife, however, doesn't like it. She says it's too greasy, and was really looking forward to a (hopefully) better version. Both of us figured it'd be pretty easy to simulate pepperoni flavor, since it's mostly spices. Let's see how it turned out.
First, when I removed the fake pepperoni from its package, my first impression was that this pepperoni had seen better days. It looked kind of limp, and had ragged edges. I popped one in my mouth, which is one of my favorite things to do with real pepperoni. It was... okay. Reasonably chewy texture, kind of an off flavor. The first thing I tasted was pepper, actually, which then mutated into a soy-ish flavor. It was as if someone at the fake pepperoni factory was asked to create a product they'd never tasted, based solely on the name and a picture. I'll be honest - I don't know what exactly goes into regular pepperoni, but it tastes like more than just pepper. I still held out hope that, with sauce and cheese, the experience would not disappoint.
I made my homemade, delicious pizza crust, slathered it with my special pizza sauce (lots of garlic!), and topped half of it with the fake pepperoni. I put a layer of pepperoni under the cheese, and a layer on top of the cheese, to see which was better. The other half of the pizza was reserved for pineapple and canadian bacon, my reasoning being that if the fake pepperoni turned out to be a total bust, we'd still have half of a good pizza. I baked it off, as usual. No surprises occurred during the baking process. But then it came time to eat it.
First observation - the pepperoni on top of the cheese was a dismal failure. The moisture (what little of it there was) all evaporated, leaving a sad, desiccated mess of fake meat. It was truly inedible - leathery and tough. Ew. I peeled those off, and hoped that the layer of cheese would have a protective effect on those beneath it. It did! They had a pretty nice texture, and the pepperiness blended nicely with the sauce and cheese, as I'd hoped. I still wish they had a more assertive flavor (aside from "peppery") but all in all, a satisfactory experience. My wife actually preferred them to standard pepperoni. So there you go - if your problem with pepperoni is the greasiness, or if you enjoy regular pepperoni, but want something a little healthier from time to time, give these a shot.
Texture - nicely chewy, but dried out easily when exposed to the oven's high temperatures
Flavor - peppery, followed by soy-ish - wished for a more authentically-pepperoni flavor, whatever that means
Final grade for this attempt: A-