By Ernest Wilkins, @ErnestWilkins
October 16, 2013
One of the most annoying things about the glut of "How to be a real man" articles on the internet (other than their continued insistence on trying to get dudes to wear dress shoes without socks) is that they don't always help with the remedial basics. Nowhere is this more apparent than with food. It's either "grill everything" or "make this nine-course tasting menu or you won't be able to satisfy your love and she'll leave you for her co-worker Steve who is the worst kind of dude because he roots for the Colts and says stuff like ‘slappa da bass.’” Damn, do I hate that Steve. Anyway, I'm here to help you step up your cook game. This is dedicated to those folks who don't know béchamel from a baseball bat.
REMINDER: I am not a real chef. I know how to cook. Dig me? Also, the actual chef types in this newsroom are standing behind me as I type this ready to whack me upside the head with a risotto maker if I screw this up. Let's get dangerous.
A food native to your culture: Seem cultured without doing much of anything! How do you do it? Ask your mom or an older person whom you share DNA with. It's a cool way to stand out at a pot-luck "Did you see how Erin whipped up that shepherd's pie?” "Wow, Rochelle killed these black-eyed peas!" "Holy crap, Pradeep did the damn thing on this dum aloo!" (WARNING: Adapting too much of your culture's culinary treats might lead to you being asked to assist at Thanksgiving. Don't get overzealous.)
A breakfast sandwich: If you drink socially to the point of excess, then I don't have to tell you how powerful a good breakfast sandwich can be. There aren't words. If I were Bill Simmons, I would call breakfast sandwiches the Chris Webber of the things you can put into your mouth. I would then make a bunch of references to pyramids and stats. That won't be happening today; instead here's how easy a breakfast sandwich is in five steps.
1: Decide what you want to put on it (My go-tos are either sausage egg and cheese or chorizo, egg, cheese and avocado.)
2: Make your filling (Fry your bacon/sausage, cut an avocado, whatever.)
3: Scramble two eggs.
4: Add cheese to the eggs (non-negotiable.) While you're at it, put an English muffin or toast into a toaster.
5: Put all of the stuff on the toast or English muffin. Eat it with a Gatorade.
A non-breakfast sandwich: This is easy enough. The only difference between what you're doing now and doing this right is toasting your bread. Toast your bread or the terrorists win. (Sidebar: Aren't we due for a faceless "enemy of the state as dictated by scared white dudes" upgrade? Since the'40s, we've had: Nazis, Commies, Hippies, people who wore disco clothing, gay people, Iraqis, black people from Los Angeles (circa LA riots), Somalians, Branch Davidians, Bosnians, North Koreans, Iraqis again and now just "terrorists." Just saying, I don't think you should trust people from New Zealand. I'M ONTO YOU, JOHN KEY!)
Macaroni and cheese: Easier than you think! Take your regular process for making blue box or shells and cheese and then just add the following at the end: Bacon and three handfuls of other kinds of non-nuclear orange cheese. Simple enough, right? You work hard, you deserve multiple cheeses in your life.
(Now, you might be one of those people who advocates for putting the finished product into a casserole dish and baking it. I respond to that with: Well, if you want a casserole, Mr. Better Homes & Gardens, then make yourself one. Have a noodle caboodle extravaganza, you dick. Keep it creamy and put half a bottle of sriracha on top.)
A salad: When I say salad, what do you think? Some kind of beautiful piece of Pinterest porn with pine nuts? A bunch of lettuce covered in ranch dressing and sadness? A salad from a pizza place? No matter what, you're right! A salad can be whatever you want it to be; just try to have more vegetables to non-vegetables. There are a lot of places serving you bunless sandwiches disguised as salads. Other than that, it's up to you to find your happiness. In a lot of ways, it's like life, am I right? *winks* *pulls quarter out of your ear*
Chili: Steal a crock pot from your parents house next time you go home. Brown some meat in it. Put some cumin, pepper (whatever you've got), garlic powder on that. Add a big tub of that store-made pico de gallo (yup!), beans, two beers, chili powder, tomato paste. Now, go do something for a bit. Like watch a season of "Living Single;" that’s about the right amount of time. Come back and stir it a few times. Congrats, you've got chili. Man, do I love me some "Living Single." *sings* "IN A '90S TYPE OF WORRRRRLLLDD ..."
Tacos: Come on, man. Legit the easiest thing you can whip up. Get everything you order on that horse tumor you call a burrito from Chipotle. (Notice how cheap all of it was. Crazy, right?) Now, put it all into a few tortillas (Flour or corn, don't matter as long as they're soft--don't be a child) that you let sit on your oven burner for 9 seconds on both sides. Inhale.
A store-bought pizza that doesn't taste like crap: You're not going to hear me advocate for making your own pizza. Get whatever normal frozen deal you can buy four of for $7 and add three dashes of that Italian seasoning at the back of your cabinet. Ditto a little red pepper if you like it spicy. Now cook it. Much better, right?
A chicken dish that doesn't require grilling: Be it fried, baked or fricasseed, you can't be out here wearing a $1,000 suit then making a grilled boneless skinless struggle on the damn Foreman grill you've had since you were a junior. You can't go wrong with chicken marsala or a good chicken curry. And now for the easiest (and most fun) recipe I have in my arsenal ...
A booze drink that doesn't require pop: No one's saying you have to make an infused cocktail collecting the flavors of elderberry and chamomile and bourbon that tastes like beer that tastes like coffee. Nah. Learn how to make ONE drink that doesn't require adding pop and stirring.
So yeah, experiment! You are an adult! Stop eating like an overdeveloped 7-year-old! I believe in you!
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