Ever on the lookout for the intersection of Philly institutions and new "green" thinking, I dropped by ScrappleFest 2009 on Saturday to sample a concoction some would call a contradiction in terms - vegan scrapple. I know, I know, many people have responded to the concept with some version of "that's just wrong."
Maybe so, but it exists. Sarah Cain, manager of the Fair Food Farmstand at the Reading Terminal Market (where else would ScrappleFest be held?) created the product in question, Vrapple, a little over a year ago for a friend who had gone vegetarian but missed the decadent taste of scrapple. Since I failed, in my 11 months living in Philly before I went vegetarian, to ever try the original meat product, I can't speak to how closely authentic the veggie version was, but it tasted pretty darn good to me, anyway.
Apparently I wasn't alone. Of the eight varieties of scrapple tasted and judged by a celebrity panel of food experts, Vrapple beat out seven pork-based versions to take the second-place prize.
Sarah Cain and chef John Blanchet (who worked vrapple into a recipe involving maple-roasted pumpkin) seemed rather surprised and delighted by the strong showing, and as you'll hear in the attached 4-minute podcast, were perfectly happy not taking first. "Something would be wrong with the universe" if a veggie scrapple had won at ScrappleFest, said Blanchet, while Cain added "I think someone would put a hit out on me." Congrats to both, and to Vrapple for carving out its own salty, pan-seared chunk of Philly food tradition.