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The Tofu Challenge hits a snag

Hella Stella, Loving Tofu

Hella Stella, Loving Tofu

The Tofu Challenge took place in Chinatown on Friday night, at that restaurant whose name I can never remember (but it has an X in it – I always remember that part – and it sells avocado milkshakes).

A bit of background. One day I made the mistake of saying to Hella Stella that I hate tofu, and she immediately came up with the idea of a Tofu Challenge.

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never given tofu much of a chance. My first encounter with it was probably 25 years ago when I ordered a dish in a restaurant on Elgin Street and had to call the waiter over to inquire why there were all these disgusting hunks of fat floating in my food.

“That’s not fat,” he said. “It’s tofu.”

After that I avoided tofu.

Fast forward to 2009 and Hella Stella’s Tofu Challenge. We would go to this restaurant in Chinatown whose name I can never remember, and we would order the Salt and Pepper Tofu, and I would love it, she said.

If I loved it, I would make a video of myself or my cat Duncan performing acrobatic tricks, and I would post it on my blog.

If, on the other hand, I failed to love the Salt and Pepper Tofu, Hella Stella would make a video of herself or her bulldog, Morty, performing acrobatic tricks, and she would post it on her blog.

So. On Friday the 13th, Hella Stella and I, along with a panel of six independent and objective adjudicators and photographers, descended upon this restaurant in Chinatown whose name I can never remember, and we sat at a circular table and ordered Salt & Pepper Tofu and a few other things. Then we starved for like ever while they grew a crop of bean curds out in the back yard and shaped them into little chunks and deep-fried them and sprinkled them with salt and pepper.

Zoom, Not Hating Tofu

Zoom, Not Hating Tofu

Then, when I was positively swooning from hunger, they brought out three big bowls of these things and placed them on our table, and I bravely smelled one while cameras flashed all around me. Then I took a little nibble.

I’m telling you, I was famished. Seriously. Otherwise I know I would have hated those tofus. As it was, I did not hate them and I ate about seven of them.

Here’s where things get a little iffy. We should have written down the contest rules in advance and agreed to them in writing, because Hella Stella remembers that in order for her to win I had to Not Hate the Tofu, whereas I remember that in order for her to win, I had to Love the Tofu. There’s a big difference between not hating and loving tofu, and our Tofu Challenge has fallen into this vast grey area.

Who do you think won the Tofu Challenge? The Polling Booth is now open. (If you’re reading this in email or a feed reader, you’ll have to click on over to the blog to vote.)

23 comments to The Tofu Challenge hits a snag

  • Starving people will eat anything, including their next door neighbors, so even though you ate the tofu, Zoom, I would not say you like it – you were just hungry. Acquiring a taste for a previously disliked food item usually takes seven (plus or minus two) separate exposures. So continue to let Hello Stella buy you tofu-based meals until you start to truly love tofu. (BTW, I am not a fan of tofu, either, but if it is in an otherwise delicious dish, I eat it without qualms.)

  • Do not believe the propaganda!

    If Zoom had said, “Well, I’m not puking my guts out yet…” then I could understand the controversy. HOWEVER, she distincly said she liked it, and continued to pick away at said tofu dish when the other food arrived.

    LACK OF HATE. That’s what that is.

    I had witnesses there for a reason, you know.

    I’ll do it all again if I have to!

    Kiss kiss.

  • Do you like scrambled eggs? I do, so I missed that dish when I reverted to veganism again.

    One of my favourite ways to eat tofu is scrambled with a few tablespoons of tomato sauce mixed in. I swear it has both the taste and texture of scrambled eggs. Hadn’t been expecting that so it was a most pleasant surprise. Another, daily ritual is to eat slices of it which I’ve previously marinated in soy sauce and sautéed, then stored in the fridge. I wrap a single slice in a dark leafy green veg – whatever was cheapest at the time.


  • The bet was never a very fair one, since the only judge was also a party to the agreement.

    Does anyone have a link to the text of the original bet?

  • Busy Bee
    March 6, 2009

    “What is the bet, you ask? A restaurant near me serves up one of the best tofu dishes I’ve ever tried (and I’ve tried a lot). This is the kind of dish that tofu-haters love, much to their dismay. Since Zoom identifies as a tofu-hater, I bet her that she would not hate this dish.”

    If this is the official text of the bet, it was a clear win for Stella. The requirement was not that you would ‘love’ the dish, but rather that you would not ‘hate’ it.

  • Nat

    I’m with Hella Stella on this one. If you’d had less than three piece. Maybe siding with the “just being polite” camp. But seven pieces… yeah, that’s definitely in the “I am closer to loving it than hating it” … sorry.

  • Sounds like the Tofu Mafia have each other’s backs on this one, ma’am…

    But if you feel the need for a fallback debating point, “not hate” is an awfully weak expression of affection, entirely open to all kinds of (mis)interpretation…

  • I like tofu myself so I was really hoping for a Stella win here…but I have to come down on Zoom’s side. People will eat anything when they are starving. My husband’s Indian family knows I cannot stomach really spicy food, and they always have to make an unspiced version of whatever they are making for dinner for me. Then one time we were at a wedding reception where we did not eat for hours and hours and hours, and I was STARVING, so when they brought the food, I shoveled it down with a glass of water, and my in-laws were all, “LOOK! SHE LOVES HOT FOOD NOW!” and I was like, “NOT.”

    Hunger does not not a win make!

  • Chris B

    “The father of the boy who doesn’t win has to mow the lawn in his wife’s Sunday dress”
    “but Homer.. Bart didn’t win either … you will have to mow”
    “It’s a small price to pay Flanders”

    Didn’t the Simpsons teach us the importance of clearly writing down bets?

  • I’m siding with Zoom on this one. Though how in god’s name could you NOT love salt and pepper tofu?

  • Milan, if that were the official text, I would agree with you. But it’s not the official text. It’s just Hella Stella’s recap of the agreement as she remembered it. Unfortunately, this agreement was not written down – we just trusted our own memories to, you know, remember it. And they DID. Just differently.

    There were however three other people present when the original bet was made. I don’t know if any of them were listening, or if they can recall the details. Hopefully they’ll step forward…

  • gc

    I was there!!… The trouble is there were TWO separate discussions between the principles regarding the challenge. The original meeting dates back to the week of January 11 at Raw Sugar. The wording of the challenge at that meeting MAY have been different from the wording at the second meeting on the morning of February 27 at Irenes. It’s quite possible that at the first meeting Zoom was told she would LOVE tofu and at the second meeting she was told she WOULDN’T HATE tofu. So… I think the only fair thing to do as suggested by Chris B’s reference to a Simpsons episode above is that Zoom, Hella Stella, Duncan AND Morty do cartwheels for the camera. That would make EVERYONE happy… am I right?!

  • XUP

    As a regular tofu eater, I don’t even believe it’s really possible for anyone to LOVE tofu. There are some really good tofu recipes that are tasty (the Green Door stir fry is one of the best restaurant versions in my opinion and while the salt & pepper tofu was pretty good, I don’t think it was lovable). So, I think it would have been expecting a great deal for a tofu-hater to suddenly love tofu and I don’t think Hella Stella is crazy enough to believe that would be possible. SO, any reasonable person would not have made such a bet. SO, the original bet must have been for Zoom to no longer completely hate tofu. I should think that’s progress enough in anyone’s book.

  • If you ate the tofu and broccoli dish at the Table (on Wellington), you would love tofu, then Hella Stella would win.

  • Tofu is not food.
    It doesn’t grow and there are no tofu ranches.
    It is a slimy gelatinous flavourless thing which can carry other flavours to you.
    As such it is essentially the same as white bread only wetter.

  • Tofu is not food.
    It doesn’t grow and there are no tofu ranches.
    It is a slimy gelatinous flavourless thing which can carry other flavours to you.
    As such it is essentially the same as white bread only wetter.
    That being said I think you should both post pics of yourselves and pets being acrobatic.

  • Melinda

    Well, frankly, I don’t see how you could have lost that bet. Ask yourself, did you eat the tofu because you were strarving, or because you really liked it? Would you order it in a restaurant now and maybe even look forward to eating it? If no, then you clearly won because if you really liked it, you would eat it another time. If yes, then I’m afraid that tips the scales in the hella’s balance. Most of the time, we’ll eat anything and like it if we’re hungry enough.

    I quite like Bandobras’s post. Wet, white bread. Oh yummy.

  • The people have spoken! Compelling arguments have been put forth by both sides, but the voting clearly favours Hella Stella, at 27 to 10.

    The complexity of the logistics of getting Duncan to perform acrobatic manoeuvres is just now starting to dawn on me. I’ve signed him up for yoga classes, just to limber him up a little. It might take a week or so before he’s ready for filming.

  • Toss him in the air. Have your camera ready!

  • Ha ha! Duncan’s got his lawyer on speed-dial now.

  • Ah, but does *Duncan* love/hate tofu? Shouldn’t he have to sample the tofu, too, before acrobatics are foisted on him?

    I can now opt out of the love tofu/hate tofu debate. I’m allergic to soy…