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Food with Mark Bittman: George Stiffman

Published January 24, 2024

What’s So Special About Tofu?

The Broken Cuisine team: David Lespron, George Stiffman, Vanessa Lauren, Elisa Leone, Ryan Tanaka. Photo: Rachel Johns

Today’s episode of Food with Mark Bittman is with tofu evangelist — and one of the authors of Broken Cuisine: Chinese tofu, Western cooking, and a hope to save our planet — ​George Stiffman​. George started on his tofu journey when he went vegan and described to us his initial resentment of the vegan movement; he saw just three main options: subtractive vegetarianism (ham and cheese sandwiches, no ham), substitutive vegetarianism (meat-based dishes with plant-based proteins), and traditional vegetarianism (hummus and falafel; peanut butter and jelly).

This sent George down a rabbit hole, and he was lucky enough to end up living in China through a language exchange program, where he cooked in Buddhist restaurants, went to Chinese university, lived with — as he calls them — “local godparents,” and apprenticed in a 5th generation tofu factory. And that’s how the tofu obsession started. Fascinating conversation, fascinating guy.

The Broken Cuisine recipe for Mediterranean Cherry Tomatoes and Chickpeas is ​here​, and we’ll have a bit of a tofu primer from George tomorrow.

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