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The Soy Curl Was Invented in Oregon, and Portland Perfected It

Ask for them almost anywhere else, though, and you might be met with a raised eyebrow.

If the city of Portland had an official food product, a case could be made for it being the soy curl.

The long, brown shreds of soy protein were invented nearby, in Grand Ronde, Ore., by family-owned Butler Foods, and local vegans can't get enough of them.

Ask for them almost anywhere else, though, and you might be met with a raised eyebrow.

"It's actually hard to find the soy curl outside of Portland," says Tal Caspi, owner and head chef of plant-based Middle Eastern restaurant Aviv.

Related: The Hummus at Aviv. Oh God, the Hummus at Aviv. It Is Perfect.

In Portland, though, they're everywhere, from the shawarma fries at Aviv to the vegan bowls at Los Gorditos to the faux-bacon that tops the mac and cheese at VtopiaEver. They're on the menu at vegan brewpub Modern Times on Southeast Belmont, and chef Jesse Moore says he's looking to incorporate them even more.

"It's local, which in Portland is especially important," he says.

For decades, chefs and food developers have tried to re-create the taste and texture of meat products for those seeking an alternative. Soy curls, which resemble pulled chicken, are among the best substitutes—and easier to master than tofu or seitan.

The key, says Caspi, is their versatility.

"They're really like a blank slate—a canvas that you get to paint yourself," he says. "Customers often have a hard time believing they're not meat."

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2. Because we made voting even easier… 

3. Because a doomed building is now a temporary work of art… 

4. Because we're still No. 1 in semi-factual superlatives… 

5. Because you can finally get a beer for less than $10 at Moda Center… 

6. Because our news anchors don't take crap from internet trolls… 

7. Because University of Portland continues to turn out some of the best women's soccer players in the world… 

8. Because we are the champions of cyclocross…

9. … and roller derby… 

10. … and air guitar…

11. Because we're turning wastewater into beer…

12. … and beer into exercise…

13. Because a local punk legend is holding a permanent rummage sale in the basement of a record shop…

14. Because we let you stop and smell the weed…

15. Because we're a world hub for slap-tagging…

16. Because even Texans are impressed by our barbecue… 

17. … and you can get almost any style of pizza here… 

18. … and also, we've perfected the soy curl… 

19. Because we're dedicated to keeping our strippers healthy and limber…

20. Because our gynecologists are building a better speculum…

21. Because our airport keeps getting more awesome…

22. …and so does Movie Madness…

23. Because we're making Halloweens more inclusive…

24. Because the city's most daring developer is growing strawberry fields in the sky…

25. Because we're bringing the pay phone back, minus the "pay" part…

26. Because you can turn on the TV and see your neighbor compete in an eating contest against a bear…

27. Because hardcore foosball players finally have a home…

28. Because we're home to the largest astrology school in the United States… 

29. Because this is the best place in the country to be a witch… 

30. Because we believe no kitty should be left behind…

31. Because the barred owls are taking over…

32. Because the best Trail Blazer in history is playing in front of us…