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Food Confessions

February 7, 2011

I’ve always found the subject of what people eat when they’re cooking for themselves a particularly entertaining subject. (So did Jenni Ferrari-Adler, whose book Alone In The Kitchen With An Eggplant is a decent read.) Thanks to laziness, lack of knowledge, lack of funds, or lack of judgment, I’ve heard of some crazy habits and one-time occasions. I’ll never forget when I was living in my first apartment with my best friend and had come back right after leaving to get my forgotten keys to find her apparently making her famous brownies. I told her how excited I was to have them later and left. That evening, I noticed the lack of brownies but decided not to say anything. Then, I went to her room and happened to notice an empty bowl and spoon with what appeared to be the remnants of brownie batter in it. She admitted that I had caught her in the act of making a one-serving size batch of brownie batter for her to eat raw as a pick-me-up. We dubbed it A Bowl of Shame. Another one of my (male) friends is especially, erm, creative in the kitchen. I’ve literally gagged as I’ve watched him eat some of his concoctions. I’ve also received a text from him bragging about how smart he is for having come up with his own tomato sauce recipe: mixing sour cream and ketchup.

But I’ll lay off my friends for a bit.  I once proclaimed to my dad that “As soon as I get to college, I’m going to eat Coco Puffs for every meal.” (He gave me a box when I moved into the dorms.) But the reality is, I like to think that, for the most part, I manage to eat pretty healthily in the few years I’ve been cooking for myself. My friends and roommates have often commented on how “cute” my balanced meals are as I’m carrying my plate with protein, a side, and veggies to the table. But I am in no ways a saint. Besides always having a dessert and snacks on hand, there are a few things that I consider to be my version of a Bowl of Shame.

Popcorn for Dinner: I think the usual version of this is some variation of “Breakfast for Dinner,” but I’ve never been a breakfast person (since I’ve never been a “get up before noon” type of person). I plan out my meals for the week and shop accordingly, but there are some days when I’m just too tired or lazy to cook whatever’s on tap. So my go-to alternative is to heat up a bag of popcorn and eat it in bed. (My favorite is Pop Secret’s Homestyle. Mmmm.) But popcorn is my favorite snack ever, so there are alternative versions to this too like “Popcorn for Lunch,” or “Midnight Popcorn.” Needless to say, there will always be a box in my pantry…

Or…A Cake For Dinner… One of my two lowest moments alone in the kitchen definitely has to be when I was subletting an apartment and it was my first time not living in the dorms or at home. It was at the end of my first week there and it had been a long, miserable week. The girls who were actually going to be living there hadn’t moved in yet, so I only had the few kitchen tools I brought, no microwave, and no stove or oven (which was inexplicably not working). Along with the most uninspiring groceries ever (I understood the raw food movement even less after that experience) I decided I absolutely needed an Entenmann’s yellow cake with chocolate frosting, which is the best cake combination ever. The plan had been, of course, to eat a piece for dessert for the next couple of nights, but that night, having no desire to do dishes after, sat down with the box and a fork for a little appetizer. A few episodes of reality TV later and…it was gone. I felt like a Cathy comic. I threw the box out the next morning because I was too ashamed to have the evidence lying around the apartment, just in case.

Fast Food on the Road: When I was growing up, we probably had Burger King once a month or so. Now, even though I know it’s bad for me in all sorts of ways, I still can’t kick the craving for it. So I made myself a rule. I allow myself my lifelong regular fast food meal (two cheeseburgers with fries and a drink – a double cheeseburger just isn’t the same) to bring with me on the bus when I go for a weekend trip, which ends up being once every couple of months. In the days leading up to the trip I’ve found myself getting more excited about Burger King than seeing my friends.

Eggo PB & J: I can attribute this one to my aforementioned male friend. While  rummaging for a late-night snack, he was hit with a craving for PB & J, but my dad didn’t have any bread. Thankfully, he almost always has some Eggos in the freezer, allowing for the invention of the Eggo PB & J. They are delicious. I’m a big fan of the classic sandwich, but now whenever I have them on plain ol’ bread they seem so sad. The best part is, I can never get through a loaf of bread before it gets stale, but Eggos keep forever. Unfortunately, I find the childish-upon-childish snack a little embarrassing, so my life is severely lacking them these days.

And Then, There is My All Time Low: I’m hesitant to reveal this one, but for the sake of your entertainment, I will share. Like plenty of other women, I am a chocolate addict. I imagine the cravings I’m hit with from time to time rival those of people going through heroin withdrawal. Because of this, I try to have something on hand in my pantry at all times. But, right before the holidays, I was running low on supplies trying to clear out my kitchen for when I was going away. The craving hit late at night, around two in the morning. I frantically searched through the kitchen, hoping I would stumble across something I had forgotten, but to no avail. In my third go-around, my eyes landed on my ever-present bottle of U Bet chocolate syrup in the fridge. I briefly envisioned squirting it directly in my mouth, but even in my darkest hour, I wouldn’t allow myself to. Syrup in hand, I roamed the kitchen again. This time I found my jar of peanut butter. It was a natural, if not holy, combination. There were plenty of times I had eaten peanut butter straight without shame. Why not add an ingredient? Double-checking to make sure my roommates were asleep, I rushed to grab the jar and a spoon and ran back to my room. For the next half hour, I enjoyed the most magical snack ever: Get a spoonful of peanut butter, drizzle it with chocolate syrup, eat, repeat. You’ll thank me later.


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