Here's a complete archive of all the Saturday Foodspin columns, which we'll update each time there's a new one.
How To Cook:
"The great joy of barbecuing chicken thighs—well, apart from the taste, and the fact that you can cook a dozen of them for less than it costs to get a Frosty with your double cheeseburger at Wendy's—is that thighs themselves are so accommodating, so ready and willing to yield rich, juicy, tender delight, that damn near any cockamamie method you noodle up for barbecuing them will work."
"The real tragedy of salad's abysmal reputation among people who otherwise know what is good is that it's neither challenging nor particularly pricey to construct a salad that is tasty enough to literally—literally!—cause your eyes to come together and fuse into a single enormous Cyclops eye when you taste it."
"Like it better with tomatoes than without? Add tomatoes! Prefer green-colored chili with cilantro and green peppers? Go for it! Think it's wrong to put beans in chili? Die die die die die."
"In fact, the very reason why IHOPs and so forth insist upon gussying-up their French toast into a kaleidoscopic funhouse nightmare is to obscure its humble simplicity. If it occurred to their diners that they were eating something that could be prepared even more deliciously in a half-hour at home, without requiring them to change out of their filthy bathrobe and into their less-filthy 'dining at IHOP' bathrobe, nobody would ever go to IHOP for French toast. Which is how we arrived at French toast sandwiched around a schmear of cinnamon-flavored Crisco, like a remedial cinnamon bun for people who find the spiral shape of regular cinnamon buns intolerably non-Euclidean."
"The first and most important ingredient you'll need for preparing an Improvised Emergency Hurricane Feast is imagination!, which will enable you to imagine how the various random things in your pantry might combine to form a delicious meal, and then, when you have assembled them and prepared them and are eating them, to imagine that you are eating something else altogether that does not taste like it should be eaten around the crackling garbage-fire whose faltering light keeps the skin-eating glow-in-the-dark raccoons at bay long after the nuclear apocalypse."
"This is the wonderful thing about nachos (well, OK, the second wonderful thing, after eating them): When you're working with tortilla chips and melty cheese, things can only ever get so bad. The worst plausible plate of nachos—bland cheese, stale chips, sharing them with Jim Gray—is still compulsively eatable to an absurd degree."
"What follows are instructions for making a meatloaf that will taste so good your oven will refuse to yield it to you when the loaf has finished cooking, and instead defiantly detach itself from the wall, scoot out into the street, and make a break for the pristine Canadian wilderness."
"In regular day-to-day cooking, it's important to experiment, to personalize, to branch out, for the sake of staving off boredom, and also so that you can feel good about being an adventurous person who hunts down and consumes goodness in all its many guises. On Thanksgiving, who gives a shit? It's all gonna get mashed together under a gravy blanket anyway! There's an 87 percent chance that you could stick a handful of frosted animal crackers in the middle of your Uncle Jerry's Thanksgiving plate and he wouldn't even notice."
"'I'll teach them to not hack into my Facebook account, RSVP for me, then shoot me with a tranquilizer dart and physically transport me to the festivities their damn selves!' you say to yourself bitterly, sizing up the jar of bread-and-butter pickle slices in the door of your refrigerator to determine whether it is part of the problem or part of the goddamn solution."
"The very most fun part of making macaroni and cheese is when you skip merrily through the cheese section of your supermarket and grab just a bunch of different cheeses that catch your eye: Pecorino and cheddar and Velveeta? Yes! Colby jack and Garrotxa and Port Salut? Fuck yeah! Twelve jars of Old El Paso Queso Dip? My legal counsel has advised me not to appear to endorse this course of action."
"Most pot roast recipes you'll find out there will require you to lop the fat off your roast, and these recipes are stupid and can be discarded, their authors pantsed and chased over the edge of a ravine. Sure! Yeah! Cut off the flavor! Everyone will like it better that way. Bullshit. You don't trim the icing off of a goddamn cake, do you?"
"In the morning, you'll be able to tell that the beans are sufficiently soaked by the agonized groaning noise and throat-blistering surge of profanity you will utter when you realize that you altogether forgot this step."
"I'm sorry. Mincing garlic is miserable. It's also worth it. Mince some garlic. This should take five minutes or so, accounting for the time you will spend sighing heavily and rolling your eyes and holding the knife to your own throat."
"So today you're going to make a version of chicken soup that is relatively quick, relatively easy, and totally guaranteed to cure your flu (CHICKEN SOUP IS NOT A PROVEN CURE FOR THE INFLUENZA VIRUS AND SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT)."
"Grilling tails has become a common preparation for people who don't like seafood but do like the idea of eating something as symbolic of extravagance as lobster; grilled lobster is wonderful if you enjoy chicken, but enjoy chicken even more when you've traded your child's college education for it. "
"It's easy, it's phenomenally cheap, it requires about as few dishes and pots and pans as one could reasonably expect of any large-quantity cooking endeavor more sophisticated than showing a pig a photograph of a hot oven and then eating it alive, and, done well, it is absolutely every bit as tasty and satisfying as anything that would require you to don a disguise, drive to a different state, and purchase a melon baller with cash."
"We're also going to use cannellini beans, because cannellini beans are also delicious and because it's always a good idea for one's food preparations to alienate as many fussy eaters as possible without including giant fistfuls of barbershop clippings."
"It's easy to go stir crazy in these circumstances: trapped inside, eating bad food, making out with the ghost in Room 237. And if, after a while, the notion of a good ax rampage starts to seem like a welcome change of pace, you could hardly be blamed for entertaining the thought. Don't give in! Make sausage and peppers instead, and cure your late-winter doldrums."
"Evidently it has become popular in recent years to cook bacon in the oven above a drip pan. That is stupid. Do not do it. Bacon tastes just as good as you will ever require it to taste if you just cook it in a goddamn pan the way people have been cooking bacon ever since very shortly after Francis Bacon chopped down the first fateful pig tree."
"The first step is accepting that your kitchen is going to be quite literally as smoky as hell, which, owing to the energy-inefficient cooking methods used to incinerate the souls of the damned, can get a bit sooty."
"If you wanted to pound your big, rubbery wads of chicken into uniform thickness before brining them, that's not the worst idea in the world. Doing so will ensure more even doneness in the end, which, hey, that's great. On the other hand, if you didn't want to spend the rest of your life hammering away at a bunch of big, gross, pink disembodied chicken boobs like a really very deeply confused misogynist, and then hosing down your entire home in antibacterial disinfectant afterward to ward off the five gallons of pure salmonella spattered across its every square inch, that's OK too."
"In well-made baked ziti, the cheese should be the star, the pasta should be the silk-upholstered palanquin on which the star is delivered to your face, and the tomato sauce and meat should be, like, the star's friggin' earrings or some shit , I don't know, I lost track of this analogy a while ago."
"Really give it to those eggs: 20 solid seconds of manic, wild-eyed, frantic frenzy. This will pay off in a lighter, fluffier, silkier end result, as opposed to a dense, chewy, veggie-studded egg-brick, which will make your quiche more pleasant to eat while sadly doing irreparable harm to its utility as an implement for fending off bats."
"The payoff will come in the form of about four tons of consistent, vivid, outrageously delicious cheese spread that you are going to enjoy so much that you will hunch over the bowl and hiss viciously over your shoulder at anyone who comes near and the pupils of your eyes will transform into frightening vertical slits, and, just to be clear, you're meant to understand that that's a good thing."
"Really, what will decide your approach is whether you prefer to do a bunch of tedious shit now (befriending an elderly relation, peeling, chopping, writing unprintably obscene hate-email to an internet food columnist) and be lazy later, or prefer to be lazy now (cooking your potatoes whole and unpeeled), do a bunch of tedious shit later, and come to the depressing realization that this behavior pattern is precisely why your parents lie about what you do for a living."
"Since the point of the whole enterprise is the crab rather than the cake, and since the cake doesn't need to add much of anything but binding to the finished product, the smart way to proceed is to minimize the cake, emphasize the crab, and find a cooking method that won't reward you with a sad smattering of dissociated crab shrapnel. Like, say, baking! Isn't that a convincing argument? No? Shut up!"
"The very nice thing about brunch is that, since it is an imaginary thing that does not exist, you can decide for yourself what it ought to look and smell and taste like, just as you did with all of your childhood friends. "
"Use what you like, here, cheese-wise. More precisely, use what your guests like. The proper way to determine this is to walk among them, before you put the burgers on the grill, point the spatula at their respective sternums, cock a stern eyebrow at them, and say, 'Cheese?' If they respond in the affirmative, raise your other eyebrow so that both of your eyebrows are raised together, and say, 'What kind?' When they tell you, narrow your eyes slightly, nod mysteriously, and repeat their choice back to them in such a way that they feel ever so slightly unsure of whether they answered incorrectly."
"Here's where a recipe in a cookbook would say something like, 'Slice 8 peaches into thin wedges,' and you would say, 'Oh, that seems pretty straightforward,' and an hour later you would emerge from your home, sobbing, clutching the mangled, mushy remains of your wasted peaches in your clawed and bitter hands and holding them up reproachfully to the blind, empty heavens."
"Eventually the cheese will be melted and evenly distributed into the melted butter and smoothly coating the noodles, and somehow this thing that started out as just garlicky butter and a bunch of cheese will have transmuted into a new thing that is undeniably, unmistakably Alfredo sauce and that tastes for all the world like going into the light."
"A couple of cups of plain yogurt, maybe half a cup of sour cream, one whole peeled and chopped cucumber, fresh dill, minced raw garlic, a splash of olive oil, black pepper, a wee drizzle of honey, and maybe a splash of vinegar if you feel like tarting it up. Mix all that stuff in a bowl. Taste. Do a slow-motion jumping fist-pump. Freeze in midair, as Stan Bush sings about ridin' alone or some shit. Done."
"The whole operation's incredibly straightforward, really: You make a tasty batter, you coat your crab in it, you cook your crab in hot oil, and then you eat it and 500 of its brethren in a wild-eyed frenzy, cramming them into your crazed, gnashing mouth by the fistful as though they were baby carrots and not entire freshly molted garbage-eating sea-bugs encrusted in a thick carapace of fried bread."
"The tricks to a good omelet, such as they are, are: patience, control of the heat, moderation with the fillings, using the right size of pan, and not being a big chicken-livered weenie when it's time to bust out the spatula and do some spatulin'."
"Pesto, which derives its name from the old Genoese word meaning to pound, originated as a way for olde-thymey, pre-industrial Italians to combine two of their favorite cultural traditions: making delicious food and venting their irrational frothing hatefulness into acts of grim violence."
"See how, even though it is wobbly and liquid, the egg white essentially hangs together in there? No? That's because you used a really goddamn old egg—but if you had used fresh eggs, in some bizarro universe in which that's a thing you'd do, you'd see the white holding its shape in there, forming a pretty, clean, smooth-looking teardrop. Man, that would be really cool, wouldn't it?"
"Under that same cold tap, grip the damn stupid mussel-beard like it is the flapping tail-end of Life and the mussel is devouring it before your very eyes, and yank it free! Hold it aloft, that all might behold the mighty hero who snatched Life back from the abyss! Roar to the heavens: Not today, damn you! Not today!"
"The basic idea with making tasty ribs is that you want the lowest sustainable heat you can manage, but that it is considered unfashionable in our puritanical culture to walk around with a rack of ribs stuffed into your armpit, so you make do with the next-lowest sustainable heat you can manage, which is usually around 200 degrees or so."
"Yeah, yeah, a Caesar salad ought to taste good, too—but, not the familiar, boring kind of good. The scary, wild-eyed, frightening kind of good! The knife-fight-by-burning-garbage-light kind of good! The mad-endorphin-rush-that-makes-transgressing-against-your-prudently-evolved-biological-limits-feel-strangely-pleasurable kind of good! This is where your average Caesar salad gets it wrong."
"Go crazy with the horseradish here. Your completed Russian dressing should make you acutely fearful for your life, just like a real Russian person would; if it does not do that, you have not added enough horseradish yet."
"In addition to being outrageously tasty, lasagna is a nutritional atom bomb (the Food and Drug Administration estimates that a single serving of lasagna contains seven hundred trillion calories, ∞ percent of an adult's recommended daily allowance of simple carbohydrates, and all the grams of fat that exist or have ever existed), and it is overwhelmingly likely to place its eater into a state of inactivity not unlike hibernation, but which the medical community stubbornly insists upon calling 'a diabetic coma.'"
"The first thing to do is clear up any misconceptions that the reason to make mashed cauliflower, and not mashed potatoes, is that mashed cauliflower is the more calorically or nutritionally upstanding choice. If that is what you are thinking, stop thinking that, because that is stupid. You're stupid."
"We tend to forget this, because they're available year-round (in mealy, flavorless, out-of-season form), but apples reach peak deliciousness in autumn, when, speaking in mathematical terms, a ripe apple tastes precisely 9.7 times better than the square of the combined deliciousness of all other foods, forever. And yet, we insist on cramming the dour, boring "pumpkin-spice" flavor combination into everything we eat in autumn, and leave the apples for kids' school lunches. Why? Why, goddammit, why?"
"Now you're a grownup and you love mushrooms (or you do not love mushrooms and deserve to be pushed into a gorge), and Beef Stroganoff isn't a part of your life, even though it is a glorious showcase for mushrooms. And also beef. Kinda right there in the name."
"There may have been a time in the fading past when eating approximately 14 trillion calories before sunrise made sense—when people typically spent the previous day, like, baling hay or bustin' up yon bureau or discovering fire or whatever, and had a serious caloric deficit to address as soon as their eyes cranked open—but those days are long gone, and they did not take home fries with them."
"Somewhere along the way, the fried-fish tribe diverged; fish-and-chips meandered its way to general respectability thanks to widespread Anglophilia (and also, uh, because fish-and-chips is delicious), while the fish sandwich somehow managed to become Carny Chow. And dammit, that's not fair."
"So the bad news is, yeah, when Aunt Hortense asked you to bring the potatoes, she was basically calling you a nigh-useless human dumpster fire who can't be trusted to crank open a can of cranberry jelly without sawing both your arms off and staggering over a cliff. On the other hand, the good news is that you can clear the abysmal bar of familial expectation with relative ease, here, and thus perhaps ascend to the rank of Napkin Bearer in years to come. "
"What kind of people sear their scrambled eggs to rubbery, cauterized awfulness on purpose? And what kind of people are we—what kind of cowards! derelicts! hypocrites, all!—who think ourselves decent and kind, yet suffer these clods to live? No more, I say. No more! Lines must be drawn! Moral lines, at least, and then, if necessary, the battle kind."
"Wanna use white wine instead of red? Fine! The Bolognese do that all the time, and it's tasty. Wanna toss some crisply roasted Brussels sprouts in with the ragù and pasta as you plate them? Grand! That'll add some delicious nuttiness to the finished product. Wanna dump some jarred tomato shit into a pan of frozen ground turkey, cook it for five minutes, and then slop it across some friggin' elbow macaroni on a plate? You go straight to hell, you sonofabitch."
"Everybody loves a cheesesteak. Maybe not the vegetarians so much. Everybody else loves a cheesesteak. The city of Philadelphia, having invented the thing and adopted it as its signature foodstuff, particularly loves the cheesesteak—nearly as much as it loves telling everybody else that their cheesesteaks suck."
"So, yeah, this is gonna turn out to be kind of a weird half-assed amalgam of chicken parmigiana, chicken Milanese, and a straightforward friggin' breaded chicken cutlet. It's also going to taste very, very good, which you'll agree [stares daggers] is much more important than what an internet food person tells you to call it. I mean, call it Steamed Rat Dick if you want."
"What's more fun to eat than the hot wing? Nothing, unless you are a lion, in which case the answer is 'clowns.'"
"In fancy restaurants and home kitchens and delicatessens and those insufferable quasi-fast-food joints with the accented, ambiguously Euro names and the friggin' Ray LaMontagne music on the PA and the cutesy, bottled alterna-soda in the cooler—everywhere, the grilled cheese sandwich is the subject of gussying. Rosetta bread and taleggio cheese and rosemary-truffle aioli and goddamn organic heirloom heritage tomatoes and so on, until you're not quite certain whether you're eating a grilled-cheese sandwich or the script of a fucking Nancy Meyers movie."
"Think of the sea scallop as the food equivalent of an interesting and attractive person with fascinating stories to tell of a life well and richly lived; a bacon-wrapped scallop is that same person, trying to tell you those stories during a fucking Nickelback concert."
"The reason to set boundaries around the clamming time of year is to give the clams a chance to grow and reproduce, which they're happy to do any old time of year, because clams are free-lovin' horndogs."
"You can have sausage gravy, and then put the leftover money you otherwise would have spent on a breakfast that contained actual life-sustaining nutriment into, say, a brand-new treadmill. And/or a coronary angiogram. Worst-case scenario, maybe a slightly fancier tombstone."
"'Ah- HA!' you are thinking, and also screaming, to the terror of your fellow bus passengers—'but what if I work i smaller batches, you sonofabitch!' Sure. Go for it. Pop your popcorn one kernel at a time, too, the next time you make some of that. Print out business cards that read I Do Things The Stupid Way, and make cute little paper airplanes out of them, and throw the paper airplanes, one by one, into the garbage. Embrace the absurd! Talk to birds! Spend $1,500 on a tiny useless computer that you wear on your face! Go all the way with it. There's no turning back."
"This is a large, flat cut of beef from the abdominal muscles of a cow; it's tougher than most other steak cuts, because the abdominal muscles of a cow do a lot of work, especially when the night is overcast and dark and the humans are reading in bed and the cows lay on their backs in the fields and do crunches in rhythm to lame techno music at modest volumes."
"Eggs are good! Ergo, hard-boiled eggs should be good, too. And: They can be good! Flavorful and hearty and not at all like brimstone. You just have to make them the right way, and they'll be plenty tasty enough for you to want to consume them."
"The creeping terror you feel at reading that instruction is your limbic system warning you that maybe we are making fish sticks— Oh god, are we making fish sticks, am I gonna have to tuck in my T-shirt next—but no, do not worry, we are not making fish sticks."
"This is what makes chili oil such a splendid and versatile condiment. It adds one thing only (piquant heat), and the thing it adds (uh, piquant heat, in case you missed that) is the most fun thing to add. OK, yeah, it may add a touch of oily smoothness to things, but in incredibly minor proportion to that piquant heat, or anyway shut up, I'm trying to make a case here."
"Look. As a broad practice, head-eating probably isn't such a good idea. But, dammit, shrimp heads are lovely, once they're cooked: crunchy and briny and shrimpy and exciting."
"Everybody's all, 'Oh, maybe you can't find tahini, so it's OK to use unsweetened peanut butter or cashew butter or almond butter or to skip the nut butter entirely or to in some other way swap out the essential hummus-ness of your hummus to maintain the familiar level of depressing compromise in your sad, poorly illuminated life, so as to ensure that, when you die, you will not notice a difference.' No. Bullshit."
"Rarely does the average workaday schlub get an opportunity to do a full day's work toward the production of an actual, tangible result. Rarer still is an opportunity for that schlub to accomplish that work without putting on pants. And rarer even than that is an occasion when the good result of that good work is a giant wad of sweet, greasy, smoky, juicy, salty pork."
"Somebody always brings deviled eggs to the cookout or potluck or NA meeting, and it's never you, and that person is everyone's favorite, because deviled eggs are just the best."
"Your own pancakes will be more interesting than the stuff you get out of a box, and less kaleidoscopically terrifying than the offerings at the pancake joint. You'll know what's in your own pancakes. You'll have control over how they taste. You'll swell with the pride of having made them from scratch. And the work and mess and time involved will dissuade you from eating pancakes very often, which, hey, your doctor will like this very much."
"If, like most people, you have a refrigerator door full of random condiments, you already possess like 74 percent of the ingredients of even the best macaroni salad; all you'll need to shop for is some elbow macaroni and a few easy-to-find vegetables. And your macaroni salad will taste good enough that no one will know you threw it together at the last minute with random (figurative) shit from your refrigerator door!"
"Listen. Tradition is great. It gives us all types of cool stuff. On the other hand, the main meat ingredient of traditional paella was water vole, a large amphibious rodent, so maybe let's all just step back and get some perspective here, because, Jesus, 'large amphibious rodent,' no fucking way."
"In any case, plan on each pound of uncooked chicken thigh producing enough chicken salad for no more than three people, and probably fewer, depending on their feelings about mayo, which will determine whether you were right to make food for them in the first place, rather than chasing them into the woods with a torch."
"You do not need to be in New England to have—to make—good New England-style clam chowder. You do not even need to know where New England is on a map of the United States to make good New England-style clam chowder. Hell, you probably could get away with not being able to spell 'New England,' 'United States,' 'chowder,' or 'map,' and still make good New England-style clam chowder."
"W herever they got their dumb name, and whether they originated as dog food or not, hushpuppies are a preposterously satisfying foodstuff: sweet and savory, crispy and cakey, and (when well-made) just larger than bite-size, so that you don't simply fire them down unconsidered and unappreciated like popcorn kernels, but bite through each, and chew, and taste, and look at the bit-through hushpuppy in your hand and go, Damn, this is so good, and then finish that one and have another. This is more important than where hushpuppies came from."
"Decide for yourself, of course. But, know going in that if you should happen to ask your squinty sea-dog fishmonger or pimply teen seafood clerk for a 50-50 mix of mantles and tentacles in your order of squid, somewhere an internet food person will know to nod sagely, give a thumbs-up sign to no one in particular, and mutter, 'Fuckin' A, buddy ... fuckin' A,' possibly frightening the other parents at the playground."
"The important things to know are that the skirt steak is pretty long (usually around a foot; sometimes longer), thin (virtually always less than an inch thick), narrow (usually not wider than a deck of playing cards), and flavorful (almost always tastier than hell, often to the max)."
"Coarse yellow cornmeal makes the tastiest polenta, and if you are not making the tastiest polenta, then there is no reason to make polenta, because a deliberately mediocre output will not justify the annoying tedium of polenta-making."
"Why don't people make baked eggs? They are good! Crazily, ecstatically, ludicrously good. And fairly easy to make, too: Odds are, you probably already have like 95 percent of the ingredients in your kitchen, give or take (optional) basil and maybe some (also optional) crusty bread."
"Face it: You are going to have to stop by a grocery store. Agony. This is when you must make Quick Improvised Pasta, something that can be cranked out in the time it takes to boil a pot of water and cook some noodles in it. The trick here is to walk out of the store with like three or four things: pasta, and some good-tasting, easy-to-cook things with which to toss it."
"The pork tenderloin is a great cut of meat! It's flavorful and tender and easy to prepare. It accommodates different flavor profiles and cooking techniques and side dishes. It transforms into lovely, deceptively fancy-looking medallions, once you get past the part where you feel like you're sectioning a huge dong."
" After three hours, the chuck roast will be cooked and tender and delicious, and (or but, depending on your feelings about it) it'll retain enough toughness in places to make you pay attention to chewing. After four or five hours, it'll slide apart when you try to lift it out of the pot. After 423 hours, it won't be food anymore, and anyway you'll be in jail for burning your house down."
"Making fried mozzarella is kind of a hassle. Kind of a big, messy, annoying-as-hell hassle! A hassle that's all too easily traded for the infinitely crappier but readily available version down at your local beer closet. But not this time, dammit! This time, embrace the hassle. This time, wrangle and wrestle and defeat the hassle! This time, and maybe only this time, make your own damn fried mozzarella."
"Mushrooms are wonderful. They're complex and diverse and exciting; they're meaty and earthy and rich in umami, the magical fifth flavor; they smell great and taste even better and they go with damn near anything—and, they're at their absolute best right now, this minute, in the last days of this soggy, gray stretch before the weather turns real-deal cold. This is the time for shedding the fear of mushrooms—for shedding your own shameful fear, or the fear of the mushroom-fearing overgrown toddler you love for whatever reason."
"S tir-frying is emphatically not an easy, quick, user-friendly way to prepare a good dinner. It's an easy, quick, user-friendly way to prepare a shitty dinner—soggy vegetables and chewy meat and gloopy, saccharine sauce—and a laborious, work-intensive, nerve-racking way to prepare a good dinner. It's many involved steps of preparation in advance of like four minutes of hot, fast, harrowing, tricky cooking. It's tedious and patience-draining before it's scary and smoky and spectacular, like waiting in line for an hour for the privilege of riding a motorcycle through a flaming hula hoop."
"Where mashed potatoes mostly help you transport the runoff of other dishes to your face, potatoes au gratin tower over those other dishes, and scoff at them, and do sexy dance moves in their ashamed and humiliated faces. Potatoes au gratin do not transport other foods. They transport you! They transport you to Enjoymentburg. Pleasuremont. Happinessissippi. Whatever. The point here is how good they are, which is: very."
"One of the things that people like to eat 'right' is fish. I am gonna swap some of this dang red meat for some nice healthy fish. This is how the thinking goes. The nice thing about this is that fish—particularly the flaky, white, not-as-nutritionally-upstanding-as-salmon-but-hey-it's-still-fish-dammit-it-still-represents-a-renewed-commitment-to-wellness-and-self-respect-who-are-you-to-judge-me-anyway varieties of fish—actually tastes good, in addition to whatever caloric or nutritional benefit you get by eating it instead of a large bucket of ground chuck braised in nacho-cheese sauce."
"Please do note that there's always at least some risk involved in the consumption of raw chicken egg; if you make your eggnog the raw way, that is your damn choice and not mine, especially if that choice eventually causes you to expel your skeleton through the seat of your pants. I believe this clears up my legal liability in this matter, insofar as I don't know what the words 'legal,' 'liability,' or 'matter' mean, but [sound of car tires screeching into the distance]."
"There's the versatility of, say, a boneless, skinless chicken breast—it tastes bland and uninteresting pretty much no matter what you do with it, so it 'goes' with everything, like gustatory khaki—and then there's the versatility of the butternut squash, which is so outrageously goddamn good that you could wrap it in a dirty sock and still enjoy eating it. Consequently, humankind will never run out of ways to celebrate it."
"Americans get spiral-eyed and drooly and visibly aroused for things that are larger than other things: Trucks that are bigger than other trucks, scallops that are bigger than other scallops, unsustainable tech bubbles that are bigger than previous unsustainable tech bubbles. It's dumb and mistaken, and it leaves one of the great seafoods languishing in the freezer while misguided goobers blow money on sea scallops the size of car tires and ruin them with bacon."
"Broccoli, being after all broccoli, will make a nice and dietarily responsible-seeming side to lend a veneer of balance and sanity to your ludicrously unhealthful main dish of choice: a quintuple cheeseburger, or a breaded and fried quintuple cheeseburger, or some nightmare casserole with breaded and fried quintuple cheeseburgers swimming in hot cream of mushroom soup, or whatever. But, I mean, it would've made a nice and dietarily responsible-seeming side for that stuff even if you'd just left it raw. You did cool stuff with this broccoli! It's got flavor and heat coming out the ass!"
"Arrabbiata, like literally all other Italian words, translates to English as 'angry.' That's something to live up to when you're making arrabbiata sauce: It's supposed to taste flushed and fiery and intemperate, like the sauce itself is angry, and like it was made by an angry person."
"The grownup cares not for impressing you buncha jerks! The grownup cares only for getting some good damn food on the table and not having to do two loads of dishes before bed. This is the inner clarity of mind which one must have, to accomplish a well-roasted chicken. This is what it means to be a grownup. To recognize the real threat: dishwashing."
How To Eat:
"We're accustomed to expecting our fast-food options to have originated in absolute horror—'chicken' sawed from some quivering, hormone-swollen, bioengineered mass of featherless meat in a sterile dry-ice-smoky laboratory somewhere, all twitching legs and heaving breasts, shitting and eating via the same beakless orifice; burger patties that have never been anything else since the moment they accumulated in a petri dish from a burbling froth of International Space Station-cultivated mold spores bombarded with laser beams—and in a perverse way, the sheer authentic-seeming biscuit-ness of the Popeye's biscuit works against it."
"Based on the results of an extensive trial session (in a related story, I gained 12 pounds this week and developed Type 2 diabetes), the very best way to eat a Candy Corn Oreo is to lift the intact cookie to your mouth and bite off no more than 40 percent of it; then to furrow your brow and widen your eyes slightly, as though at once surprised and a little bit outraged that you were not sooner notified of this, and in a chewing-muffled voice, say: 'Oh God. Oh, oh God.'"
"Red Bull Total Zero gives you an energy boost. Whatever black alchemy enables this, boy howdy does it ever. I can't say this with absolute certainty, but I'm like 99 percent positive that I actually sprang a doppelgänger for several hours on Wednesday afternoon; while I manically jogged in place and sang 'I'm So Excited' in the living room, he very calmly prepared dinner, organized my closet, and built a heliport on the roof of my house."
"Enter sriracha. (And exit some inevitable number of drearily pinheaded anti-sriracha bores who prioritize the maintenance of their insufferable, all-rejecting past-that-ness over experiencing things that are good—congratulations, two-legged buckets of feces! You have persevered over enjoyment! Your reward is a gilded tube of Go-Gurt.)"
"We grown-ups, unlike children, are obliged to put on demeaning Self-Motivating Team Player Type costumes and dance for our candy all fucking year; the difference between us and kids is that Halloween is the only day of the year when grown-ups are allowed to give voice to the desire to stuff six pounds of Smarties into our head without someone putting on a sympathetic pity face and asking us if we've been sleeping OK lately."
"Fear not, eaters, for your handy eating enthusiast has undertaken the challenge of perfecting the craft of Thanksgiving eating, and also of transcribing it for you so that you can print it out and hold it up to your face and consult it closely while shuffling around the buffet table in a way that is not at all weird and needless and disturbing, no matter what anyone says."
"Some people like to pile a portion of each of the various delicious Thanksgiving victuals between two pieces of bread, in what invariably turns into a saggy, dissolving, unmanageable wreck, renouncing any rightful claim to the 'sandwich' title within moments of its birth. Other folks prefer to stick to the holiday's saner-seeming sandwich fillings like sliced turkey and cranberry relish and salad, think there's something weird and redundant and brazenly gluttonous about putting stuffing (which is essentially pre-chewed bread) between two slices of bread, and are vampires."
"There's a marshmallow Santa, a white-chocolate Santa, and a milk-chocolate Santa. They don't look alike; they're flavored differently; and they're made by three different confectioners. What they have in common is that they're all little effigies of Santa Claus. That, and that they're goddamn terrifying."
"You buy a big family-sized box of tubes of the stuff and the tubes announce themselves as having flavors like 'Strawberry Splash' and 'Berry Blue Blast' and 'Rad Raspberry' and 'Communion With The Succubi,' but then you tear one open and slurp down a mouthful of it and all you can taste is holy fucking shit my teeth just dissolved oh God my feef divovved."
"I think we all understand that Taco Bell is to food what the propeller beanie hat is to transportation: wildly insufficient , but not altogether un-enjoyable if approached with the right attitude—where 'approached with the right attitude' is just a long-winded euphemism for 'inebriated to the point of incoherence.'"
"Who is the Rip'n Chick'n for? That is to say, since it tastes exactly like the other Popeyes chicken offerings, one might reasonably assume—and the advertisements suggest—that its selling point is not hey, here's this new thing that tastes different from and better than all of our other things!, but rather, hey, here's this new thing that tastes just like all our other things, only better because lookit, it's a profoundly unsettling polydactylic chicken-hand, just like you always wanted! Follow the implication there and see if it doesn't lead you to your nearest gun store."
"One of parenthood's myriad challenges, as any parent will attest, is finding the time in one's overscheduled, playdate- and tedious-errand-choked day to make weirdo peanut-butter-and-jelly-stuffed pierogi to foist upon our frightened and sobbing children. Thankfully, somebody at The J.M. Smucker Company is looking out for the families."
"What the fuck is 'beef 'n' cheese'? Why does it have to be a dip? 'Well, jeez, I really like cheese dip, but tonight I'm definitely in the mood for something with unsightly brown wads of chewy mystery meat floating in it—if only there were a product out there that combined the two!' said no one who ever fucking lived, shaking his non-existent fists at the sky in the Dimension of Utter Chaos."
"Nutella is outrageously sweet. Conservatively, I would estimate that a tablespoon of Nutella contains as much as 6,400 metric tons of sugar. Many people find this to be a winning trait in a nut-spread and are bumblebees."
"The difference between a Maine oyster, intense and face-crumplingly briny, and the gentle, sweet oysters from off British Columbia, is not a difference of culinary technique, or style, or fanciness of equipment, or accompanying flavors, or the friggin' gluten content of its breading, or any of the other embellishments we heap onto most basic foodstuffs as we prepare them for eating. It's precisely the difference between the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Maine, and the Pacific Ocean off the coast of British Columbia, and nothing else."
"A root beer float is itself an 'ice cream creation,' making this cookie an ice-cream-creation creation. The Chewy Chips Ahoy! Root Beer Float Ice Cream Creations cookie contains like 5,400% of your recommended daily allowance of meta weirdness. May cause vertigo, shortness of breath, and a glimpse of the dark, endless, barren hall of mirrors at the core of human intellect."
Corn Relish (Jolie Kerr)
"For the absurdly small amount of work and time it takes to DIY this stuff you might as well make your own and revel in the praise your friends, lovers, enemies, et al inevitably will bestow upon you when they taste the fruits of your labor."
Steamed Pork Dumplings (Eric Sollenberger)
"There are going to be a lot of Top Chef fans who will poke their heads in to say, 'That's not authentic enough!' or, 'You should make your own steamer out of Taiwanese bamboo shoots, not Szechuan, idiot!'—but, dammit, how many of their great-grandfathers ever accidentally killed a boar in China? Probably none.
Risotto (Chris Thompson)
"Pizza says relax. Homemade chili says I want you to like me. Olive Garden says you're all alone in a dark and malevolent universe. Risotto? Risotto is the food of love. Risotto says I love you thiiiiiiiiis much."
Chocolate Pudding (Chris Thompson)
"Pudding ought to be the kind of thing a person lusts after. Rich in flavor but ethereal in texture, it ought to be an exalted foodstuff, snooty food, like hollandaise or paté or soufflé. It should commonly be called blancmange because that sounds better and more grown-up, and it should be eaten with good silverware and gushed over by foodie types."
Giant T-Bone Steak (John Ore)
"Yes, you could—and should!—grill corn and ramps and snow peas and asparagus and garlic scapes and a bunch of other rabbit food to take advantage of those glowing embers. But how about we grill a bistecca all Fiorentina—a giant T-bone-style steak the size of your entire head that takes 20 minutes to cook, is served bloody as hell, serves four to six, and can be eaten with your fingers?"
Grilled Vegetables (John Ore)
"You can sit there and squander your primordial right to fire, watching precious heat slowly burn out like your potential after you've overcooked your skirt steak. Or you can take advantage of extant hot coals and grilling surface, and buy yourself some time away from the kids noodling with the fire, and make sure that everything on your plate spent time on the grill."
Pork Belly (Chris Thompson)
"The uncured, undried pork belly is like a hunk of tenderloin absolutely draped in rich, delicious pork fat. When rescued fresh from the clutches of the cynical bacon-makers and prepared carefully, it is the best thing to eat on the entire earth, and a proud use of our thoughtful, filthy, farmyard friend's best physical attribute."
Tuna-Bean Salad (Chris Thompson)
"If gaining comprehensive control of your life is a complex undertaking far, far beyond your capacity, you can at least have daily sustenance that is nutritionally passable, easily made, cheap, and genuinely delicious. You can have tuna-bean salad."
Cabbage (Jolie Kerr)
"My recipe for cabbage has a few things going for it. The first is that it is dumb easy. It's also absurdly good; if cabbage is to have its day in the sun in the way that its dwarf-like cousin the Brussels sprout has, I might suggest that this preparation will be the thing that convinces diners cabbage can be more than a damp, stinking pile of rope-like vegetation."
Smoked Salmon (Nigel Duara)
"Do you have a barbecue grill? Then you can smoke salmon. 'But w-w-w-what about those specialty smokers at the depot for houses?' you ask, tugging at a sleeve, eyes wet and wide. Go for it. But it's not necessary for today's task. What is required is a slavish dedication to time and temperature, and some prep work."