Let’s not lie to ourselves. We put some horrible things into our bodies during college. And I’m not just talking about booze and illicit substances. I discovered many years ago that the best hangover cure isn’t herbal supplements or a strange juice concoction. It’s chicken-fried steak with gravy, fried eggs, hash browns and black coffee served to you by a woman named Florence, who probably used to run around with a biker gang before she settled into working at a diner in her old age. And beyond that, you were too busy with parties, girls/boys, and pretending to study to actually make full use of your kitchen. Oh sure, you played around with some shit you saw on Food Network, but most of the time you just defaulted to the easy stuff. But you’re an adult now. You bought a gourmet set of cookware when you moved into your new place, and you were all set to Gordon Ramsay the shit out of your life. How’s that working out for you?
Well, if you’re like me and everyone else I know, it’s not going well. I try to cook for myself and my roommates a few nights a week, but I often find myself falling into old habits. Here are a few foods you probably thought you’d never eat again that have made way too many appearances in your mouth recently.
1. Easy Mac
Far be it from me to ever talk shit about macaroni and cheese. It’s an American staple, and I was raised eating some of the best homemade mac and cheese ever fashioned. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. See, I could probably spend an hour or so making my grandma’s recipe, using handmade noodles and a variety of real cheeses melted down and mixed, then baked in an oven with breadcrumbs on top. Or I could spend fifteen minutes with the blue box that costs a buck at the store, and use the rest of my time to mentally kick myself in the head for not starting Anquan Boldin in two of my fantasy leagues this week. Sure, I can dress it up all I want by adding bits of chicken, and a little barbeque sauce, but who am I really kidding? That’s like putting a suit from a thrift store on an intern and calling him an executive.
2. Frozen Pizza
I will grant you that not all frozen pizza is created equal. The high-end stuff that’s made once a day at the grocery store with (relatively) fresh ingredients on top is actually a step above delivery for the price. But I spent all my money buying drinks for a girl who ended up going home with a backup guard for the Lakers last weekend, so I can’t afford your fancy, fresh topping bullshit. I will swallow my pride and cook up a couple of Totinos and eat them while they’re still too hot for my mouth like a man.
3. Hot Dogs
These are tricky, because I actually make a pretty mean hot dog. Get some decent franks or brats, top with sauerkraut, onion, mustard, and some cracker crumbs for texture. That’s good stuff, I don’t care how many dozens of dollars you have in your savings account. But the problem is that I often buy a lot more dogs than I do buns. In most cases, I’m either too lazy or too intoxicated to go to the store, so I’ll just heat them up in a tortilla with some cheese and toss a little Sriracha on them, and just pretend like I’m back in my freshman dorm telling my roommate how I’d fix the housing crisis, mid-bong rip.
The problem I ran into with ramen is the same that many my age do: window dressing. Ramen is actually pretty good on its own (if you ignore the Dead Sea-like levels of sodium), and with a few extra things you can actually make it pretty fancy looking. I’m not gonna link any here, because I’m not your personal researcher, but you can Google any number of recipes to kick up your ramen. One that kinda blew my mind was that you whisk a couple of eggs in a bowl while your noodles are boiling, and then pour the raw egg straight into the pot about a minute before you take them off the stove. The broth flash poaches them, and makes a perfect egg drop broth for your noodles. It totally lifted part of the veil of “What the hell are those people doing back there?” that I always wonder in Chinese restaurants. Then again, it’s super depressing to open your pantry and see a bunch of red, orange, and pink plastic wrappers and realize simultaneously that you were born when your parents were your age.
5. Canned Soup/Beans/Anything
The fact of the matter is, if it’s in a can, and it’s not a small part of your recipe, you’re probably fucking up. I’ll grant that Campbell’s isn’t the worst thing ever, but have you ever had homemade soup? That stuff kicks canned soup’s ass every day that Arsenio Hall tries something desperate to stay relevant (that’s every day, by the way). The sadder thing is that many of us don’t even have the patience to heat it up, or the desire to either dirty a bowl, or clean a dirty one for use. What does that mean? You betcha, straight outta the can. In my opinion, this is forgivable for soup, but one of my roommates does this with beans too. And I don’t think it’s just laziness. I’m pretty sure he prefers it. So either he’s cracked the code, or I’m living with idiots.
I’m willing to bet that a lot of you reading this aren’t actually guilty of doing any of this. And I’m happy for you. Really I am. I’m glad that you’ve figured out a way to manage your time and patience to cook healthy, tasty, balanced meals, and you’ve officially made your way into adulthood. I think you’re going great places with your life, and you’re an extraordinary human being. I also hope you choke on your home garden zucchini and die in front of everyone you love, you condescending asshole.