Being able to cook well comes with its own attendant host of problems. Forgive the egoism, but I am pretty adept in the kitchen. It’s part of my extremely limited skill set, so I’m okay with a little bragging. Skills I am reasonably sure I do not possess include the following: having face control when someone is acting like an absolute twat; the wherewithal to actually MOVE FURNITURE when I’m sweeping or mopping or somesuch bullshit; managing to shave without leaving lonesome clumps of leg hair remaining unscathed on my ankles; the self-control to keep peanut butter in the house; actually coming to a complete stop at most intersections, etc. etc.
Oh, hello, mister jar of hydrogenated goodness.
Here’s pretty much how I feel about you.
That having been said, it means that I don’t get to eat out a lot. Most restaurants strike me as unnecessary and overpriced. Paying twenty bucks for a plate of pasta makes my inner tightwad pissed off to the point where I genuinely can’t enjoy, you know, getting to go out and have someone else clean up the mess. Exceptions to this include high-end experimental restaurants — not that my experience of this is extensive, since I am decidedly lacking in an unlimited expense account or black AmEx– and anything ethnic. Certain idioms and genres of cooking make their way into my repertoire more frequently than others (i.e. New Southern, Greekish and/or Mediterranean, a vague California-Continental hybrid).
So, pho or tacos el pastor aren’t really staples in our house. Going out of course, that’s another story. I’m generally quite happy to order five different kinds of elaborately prepared bread at an Indian restaurant, or some Vietnamese salad that requires shredding no less than half a dozen vegetables.
What it takes to make pho. Plus about ten hours.
Family members, in particular, tend to regard me as somewhat eccentric. When I stay with my mom over the holidays, even when it’s just me eating, I consider it no great hassle to make a plate of spaghetti carbonara, or some cold soba noodles with salmon, or a curry, or a tuna and white bean salad, and so on. My pantry is pretty bereft of prepared and snack foods, for which see above re: complete and utter lack of self control. So, usually, when I want something to eat, I cook it. Or I have a salad. Or some yogurt. Or vegetables and hummus. *
Which is probably why, when left to my own devices for any extended period of time, I start out with the best of ambitions, but then my fundamental cheapness and laziness takes over. Mike went fishing last weekend, and we didn’t have a lot in the bank. I could have cooked the vegetables from our CSA, but all that was left were mustard greens (no bacon); baby bok choy (juicy and easy to make, but ultimately, profoundly unsatisfying) and some beets (too Lady Macbeth. I’d prefer not to be stained magenta for the remainder of the weekend, thanks all the same).
I should also add that since summer began in earnest, I seem to have devolved into a fourteen-year-old boy. I shower far far less frequently than I should. I’m keeping third-shift hours, somehow, and I wear Mike’s boxer shorts pretty much everywhere. **
Maybe if he hadn’t taken the car I would have made a trip to the store. Maybe I would have eaten something vaguely healthy. Because no matter how much I natter on about how processed foods are the devil, or extol the virtues of cooking a complete dinner for one, I am a sloth at heart. *** I was planning on eating some cheese and crackers, but we had only Pecorino (not a natural partner for Triscuits, I reckon) and shredded Mexican 4-cheese blend.
What I came up with could easily be featured on This is why you’re fat: a plate of Triscuits covered in shredded cheese, nuked in the microwave and then doused with Crystal hot sauce. Followed by dessert, which consisted me gnawing, rat-like, on a chunk of Mexican hot chocolate. Never let it be said that I am anything but eminently classy, yo.
*People quite honestly find this very strange. I had some people visiting and they were like, “Do you have snacks?” and I said, “I could make a salad, probably.” I got a very strange look in return. Salad? Totally normal foodstuff? Surely you’ve heard of it? The one I’m totally jamming on these days consists of baby spinach, avocado, feta cheese, and sunflower seeds, dressed with pumpkin seed oil and lemon juice. It is pretty much perfect.
** When your partner is begging you to put on real pants for a trip to the grocery store, you may have a problem.
***So lazy that when I’m alone, I’m perfectly content to eat cereal for three days straight. When Mike met me in Cambridge after I had been living there for a week on my own, he was appalled to learn that my food supplies consisted of a jar of Skippy and one of marshmallow Fluff and a loaf of plastic white bread.