A tumultuous tale of tofu.

The following message is brought to you by the Tofu Anti-Defamation League.

Tofu fights cancer. Tofu causes cancer. Tofu gives you the gift of flight. Tofu forces you to grow a second head. Tofu is the only food that can drive back the skeletal armies of the undead should the devastating curse of Demon Grrbstzittooofolo ever haunt us. Tofu is the devastating curse of the Demon Grrbstzittooofolo and is haunting us as we speak. Here’s my personal favorite: Tofu makes you gay. I’m not linking to the site on that one because I refuse to bear any responsibility for increasing its Google ranking.


[Making Music: Soft tofu with chili oil, roasted sesame oil, sesame seeds, and scallion. Snapped for Lara’s January “White” challenge over at Still Life With….]

I have friends who would never offend me by telling me that kimchi stinks (it does), but these same friends won’t hesitate to tell me that tofu is evil (it’s not). The science on soy is complicated, contradictory, and confusing. But really, what it comes down is whether you like tofu at all. If you don’t, it’s likely that a well-meaning non-Asian health nut tried to foist it on you in a sandwich or a salad. Well I don’t like tofu in my sandwiches and salads either. That’s what bacon is for.

I love tofu piping hot, drowned in a scarlet sauce full of fiery chilies and strips of tender beef. I love tofu soaked in beaten egg and fried until brown and crisp then dipped in sweet soy sauce and sesame seeds. I love tofu soft and gelatinous, swirling in soon tubu broth bubbling up its pungent fragrance of pork and kimchi. I even love tofu plain with aromatic Asian oils and the piercing bite of slivered scallions.

Tofu is as woven into my existence as pasta in the Italians, butter in the French, chilies in the Mexicans. My parents ate it, my grandparents ate it, my great grandparents made it. In a nation where meat has long been a luxury, tofu provided vital and delicious protein. There’s not one single documented case of tofu sucking the blood out of babies as they sleep in their cribs and creating armies of vampire infants flapping through the night in search of more babies to drain. Isn’t calling tofu evil just a bit much? Please, tofu-haters, you’re hurting my feelings. Leave the poor white goop alone. It can’t rape you, rob you, or even appreciate Barry Manilow. It’s just bean curd.

As for the newly formed two-headed gay men out there now plagued by the curse of the unholy Grrbstzittooofolo, admit it: things are much more interesting than they used to be. So what if it takes twice as long to floss? Thank tofu for infusing some much-needed excitement into your lives.

24 thoughts on “A tumultuous tale of tofu.

  1. I’m totally with you Bon Appegeek. Here in Australia, we’ve had a week of confusion, contradiction and basically rubbish reporting about soy. Apparently it both causes cancer, but should also be included as part of a healthy diet to prevent cancer. I also personally love the idea that tofu could “make you gay” – ahh I do love people, they’re so . . . gullible.

    It’s a food, it’s been eaten for centuries, it’s not the biggest threat to humanity, but it’s also not the holy grail. Eat it as a food, don’t take it in a pill form and you’ll be fine.

  2. Meena, cookiecrumb, Trig, catherine: Thanks!

    kathryn: I think when any food is studied so extensively, you will never get clear answers. But I can’t help but notice that it’s people who dislike it who are most vocal about the health detriments. Some of these same people wouldn’t give up carcinogenic grilling on pain of death!

  3. What a super funny post. I love tofu and i will never stop eating tofu.

    Your tofu looks fun to eat too, never mind tasty! That’s really creative of you.

  4. True dat!
    I wonder what it is about soy that makes people have such a complex — is it guilt from not eating as healthily as they’d like to?

  5. I admit being skeptical about tofu, but I want to get over my skepticism and make some dammit!

    I also admit that it’s entirely possible I will take one bite and never want another, therefore laying to waste time, money and energy that I put into what I made. I might be disappointed that it coerced me into thinking it might be delicious, and like a jilted lover, may never look at another package of bean curd again.

    My….I am being dramatic, yes? Got anymore good recipes?

  6. Mae, emily: Thanks!

    Vanessa: I think it’s people who try to force others to eat it that cause the problem. It’s a kind of backlash.

    Kate: I think tofu on its own is an acquired taste, so I’d try it at a restaurant in a soup or other dish, like pad thai or in a stir fry first. Like soymilk, the taste can be a little offputting all alone. All my recipes tend to add it to something rather than feature it.

  7. Rasa: I use the same method as I use for ribbons when I wrap presents—take a paring knife, hold the blade against the dry side of the scallion with your thumb, then pull sharply. The scallion curls right up!

    Nicole: Thanks!

  8. Too funny, I LOVE the photo! I must admit, I am not overly eager about tofu. I do like it “in” stuff…like in a pudding pie in place of milk. The idea of eating it drizzled with oil and not cooked makes me a tad sick to my tummy…sorry…heh!

  9. You-go-girl! One of my pet peeves is people complaining about soy milk not tasting like (cow’s) milk. Well, duh, of course it doesn’t. I mean, I don’t complain about how tea doesn’t taste like coffee…because they are two different things.

  10. Jesska: That’s perfectly fine as long as you aren’t trying to burn it at the stake, lol.

    Mary: Maybe we should change the name to soy nectar. That way these poor people won’t have unrealistic expectation.

    Mike: You probably breathed too many tofu fumes from your neighbors. That can be the only explanation. ;)

  11. This is hilarious! Love the bit about the tofu making you gay. Pfft.. as if! Although, it may possibly explain why my brother still hasn’t found a girlfriend ahhaha.

    Love the shot of the tofu too. :)

  12. Linda: Thanks! I’m afraid it’s all downhill from now on.

    Susan: I’m glad to see another fan.

    ilingc: Your brother needs to find a tofu-loving girl. They’ll live happily ever after.

  13. Hi, it’s my first visit to your website and I just had to tell you how much I enjoyed this post.

    It would be perfect if you could share one or two tofu recipes with us as well. *hopeful*

    (ps: the non-Asian health nut bit is SPOT-ON!)

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