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Delicious ham water and other delights.
January 29, 2014 7:44 AM   Subscribe


 
thank you I never want to eat again
posted by The Whelk at 7:49 AM on January 29 [4 favorites]


"World’s saddest fajita" cracked my shit up.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:55 AM on January 29 [3 favorites]


I'm usually a pretty hard critic of my own cooking, partly because that's how I am and partly because I am deeply convinced that being hyper-self-critical leads to better food in the future. (You overcooked the broccoli! Wait longer next time, until the rest of the curry is fully cooked!!!)

But today I will go easy on myself.
posted by kaibutsu at 7:57 AM on January 29


British cooking's greatest hits
posted by indubitable at 8:00 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


See also: /r/shittyfoodporn
posted by dobi at 8:03 AM on January 29




an emergent sausage. I lost it.
posted by GrapeApiary at 8:11 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


I think those might be the world's saddest quesadillas, actually.

This reminds me of one particularly low point where dinner was sauerkraut, eaten with a fork straight from the can, because anything else would have been too much effort. Those weren't good days.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:12 AM on January 29


I laughed, but I recognized myself as well.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:15 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


"knowing that tonight just like any other night he’ll been dining alone in front of repeats of Doctor Who."

Holy cow, that sounds awesome to me these days.

♪ You don't know what you've got till it's gone. ♪
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:25 AM on January 29


"World’s saddest fajita" cracked my shit up.

It's the half-hearted sprinkle of what appears to be oregano? freeze-dried chives? green construction paper bits? and the contents of one (1) Panda Express duck-sauce packet that really makes that one for me.

On preview: Also, the tiny, tiny plate.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:27 AM on January 29


"Well done David, that’s a terrible burger."
posted by pineappleheart at 8:30 AM on January 29 [6 favorites]


I was trying to read this while eating lunch and I...just...couldn't.
posted by slogger at 8:34 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


Is it just the one guy sending in a lot of pictures, or are those blue and white plates part of the lifestyle?
posted by Scattercat at 8:37 AM on January 29


Is it just the one guy sending in a lot of pictures, or are those blue and white plates part of the lifestyle?


Yes and yes.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:45 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


When I saw the half an onion I said, out loud, "Aw, they used half an onion!" and felt sad but bemused for that person. Assuming it was an honest pic and not something staged. In which case boo on you, artist, for engaging my sympathies!
posted by curious nu at 8:45 AM on January 29


This is why local restaurant menus should never, ever feature pictures of their own food. It's so very easy to make even decent meals look appetizing in photos.

Not that any of these meals are even remotely appetizing.
posted by xingcat at 8:52 AM on January 29


The two microburgers on top of plain bread with not even ketchup added are a truly depressing sight, I admit.
posted by Iosephus at 8:53 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


There are only a handful of these that don't look like reasonably tasty real food.
posted by Zalzidrax at 8:54 AM on January 29






Yes, this should provide adequate sustenance for the Doctor Who marathon.

The thing is, I sure COULD go for a hundred tacos right about now.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:00 AM on January 29


Metafilter: thickly sliced carrots, uncut sprouts, penne and afterbirth.

Or alternatively:

Metafilter: chicken abyss
posted by killdevil at 9:01 AM on January 29


When I saw the half an onion I said, out loud, "Aw, they used half an onion!" and felt sad but bemused for that person

Actually, I take issue with that. Eating "half an onion" like that is the best thing about making pot roast (and sometimes soup). Although, to be fair, that one looks somewhat less than tender.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:02 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


"You can eat around the burnt bits."

I had to spend the last month of my second pregnancy on bed rest to avoid giving birth early, which meant that my husband was suddenly and unpreparedly on deck for feeding the three of us (extant). My husband is a fine man with many sterling qualities, but he cannot cook. He coped as admirably with the situation as one could expect, though, gamely coming home from a brand-new full-time job and facing a kitchen that had not even been cleared from lunch. His specialty, therefore, was prepared chicken cutlets from the local grocery store, seasoned and breaded by the butcher and shrinkwrapped into a package with a little cup of sauce, and instructions on the package like "Pan-fry over medium heat, 4 minutes per side, until internal temperature reaches 175 degrees."

I should mention that our stove was, conservatively, forty years old, and the gas regulation valve was pretty dicey. So setting the dial on "medium" had about equal chances of producing either a slow, sulky flicker of flame that licked around the burner like a woman trying to get lipstick off her teeth, or a mighty conflagration that made it almost hard to approach the stove. I'd been using the beast for twelve years, so I had a pretty good idea of how to temper my approaches, but my poor husband didn't stand a chance. And that is how he came to serve me a beautiful dinner of chicken dijon, with steamed broccoli and new potatoes, saying "Here's your dinner, my love! I would recommend eating the chicken, ah, from the top down. And don't turn it over until you aren't hungry any more." It was absolutely carbonized on the bottom. I ate it anyway, because I couldn't stand up to make something else without risking premature delivery and I was ravenous, but wow, it was memorable.
posted by KathrynT at 9:07 AM on January 29 [9 favorites]


so watery. and yet there's a smack of ham to it!
posted by ninjew at 9:09 AM on January 29


This hits way, way too close to home.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:20 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


This reminds me of the time I dumped a can of chili on top of a bowl of spaghetti. (I was surprised years later to learn that Cincinnati Chili is actually a thing.)
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:24 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


These people should just stick to making sandwiches. It's quick, easy, and delicious. Seriously, I could eat a sandwich for every meal and be perfectly happy in life.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:24 AM on January 29


Can we subtitle this notcookingforbae?
posted by Lemmy Caution at 9:29 AM on January 29


I should send him a picture of the seafood tacos I eat when my wife isn't home and I'm not giving a shit - fake crab sticks and Monterrey jack cheese wrapped in a tortilla on a paper plate and microwaved.
posted by charred husk at 9:35 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


I just made my own lunch and thanks to this blog I made sure it was bright, colorful, and appealingly plated. I even put a little garnish on.
posted by The Whelk at 9:46 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


That's timely—I've been working on a blog that's sort of the opposition view to this, and which is about how to be a husky, dateless, surly, and presently unemployed guy on the verge of descending into poverty and madness while somehow managing to live with some grace and luxury. The entry I'm working on at the moment is about my imaginary restaurant, La Poubelle Bleue, and how I avoid weepy meals over the stove in droopy underpants by forcing myself to compose a menu of delicious meals I can make with what I have on hand and a short grocery list, and then treating mealtimes as something more than just cramming carbs and sadness into my food hole.

In this scenario, my dog stands in for a waitress.

"I believe I'll have the mushroom crêpes," I say to the dog. Her ears do a radar sweep, and she tips her head. "And I think I'll haaaave," I continue, looking at the neatly hand-lettered menu on nice deckled paper, "ummm…the bijou florentine soufflé and a tall glass of sweet mint tea."

Her toenails click on the old linoleum as she paces around the chef, then dinner is served.

"Relay my appreciation to the chef," I say, and offer the dog a tiny bit of crêpe.

Everything is sad when you haven't mastered the deflectionary arts.
posted by sonascope at 9:46 AM on January 29 [28 favorites]


Metafilter: just cramming carbs and sadness into my food hole.
posted by The Whelk at 9:50 AM on January 29 [3 favorites]


This hits way, way too close to home.

Fuck me this is hilarious. It's like somebody realized the subtext of death in not cutting vegetables properly. Why bother, life is meaningless.

I hate to say this but I recently discovered that Gruyere microwaved for about 8 seconds on top of crackers is just about the most amazing thing I've ever tasted, and because I'm single, I totally started building little cracker castles because it's more efficient that way and I lean down to see my creations rotate in the microwave tray.

*puts gun in mouth*
posted by phaedon at 9:52 AM on January 29 [12 favorites]


Is it just the one guy sending in a lot of pictures, or are those blue and white plates part of the lifestyle?

I had this student in Japan. A lot of the other students thought he was kind of weird and looked uncomfortable around him. He was a bachelor, apparently lived in some kind of trailer in the mountains, and was an artist of some kind. Hard to establish much because he was very much a beginner at English and we weren't supposed to talk in Japanese in class.

Anyways, one day we are doing a lesson about the sorts of words and expressions you use for household chores. "I do the laundry". "I sweep the floor". "I do the dishes". Everybody takes a turn trying various expressions out.

Weird bachelor artist guy tries, and says "I do the laundry. I sweep the floor. I do the dish".

I say "the dishes. The expression is 'doing the dishes'".

He looks at me with a big grin and says "no. I have one dish."
posted by Hoopo at 9:54 AM on January 29 [24 favorites]


This makes me feel ill. And also takes me back.
posted by Night_owl at 9:54 AM on January 29


This reminds me of one particularly low point where dinner was sauerkraut, eaten with a fork straight from the can, because anything else would have been too much effort.

Okay: y'all know I was a stage manager at one point. I had to have a day job that whole time, though, so I was regularly putting in 9-5 at an office and then getting straight to either a rehearsal or a performance, where I'd be at a theater from 6-11 pm. The one hour between locales was barely enough time to get to the theater, so my choices for dinner were

a) get something at the questionable delis on the same block as the theater, but it had to be something hand-held because as soon as I got to the theater I had to start work; or

b) wait until I got home.

What I'm getting at is - I have actually had instances where I've eaten an entire bag of Cheetos or five fruit roll-ups and a Twinkie and called it "dinner".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:55 AM on January 29 [4 favorites]


Started scrolling down, but had to stop. All those pictures of food made me hungry. Yes, I have very low standards as far as food goes.
posted by YAMWAK at 10:14 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


I should send him a picture of the seafood tacos I eat when my wife isn't home and I'm not giving a shit - fake crab sticks and Monterrey jack cheese wrapped in a tortilla on a paper plate and microwaved.

My aforementioned-husband's specialty dish is refried beans from a can, dolloped onto tortillas, topped with shredded cheese, and microwaved. He calls them Burritos of Loneliness because he only eats them when I'm not here to cook for us.

He uses a real plate, though. I mean, we're not savages.
posted by KathrynT at 10:17 AM on January 29 [9 favorites]


I weep for you guys. I seriously do.
posted by The Whelk at 10:20 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


Can you try to cry more directly over this plate, The Whelk? My lonely burritos need salt.
posted by KathrynT at 10:24 AM on January 29 [7 favorites]


refried beans from a can, dolloped onto tortillas, topped with shredded cheese, and microwaved

This is definitely dinner of last resort in our house. Sometimes not even last resort. Although usually it's between a pair of corn tortillas, in a pan instead of the microwave. Sometimes with salsa.

I really like to cook. Just ... sometimes I don't.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:24 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


"Dinner of last resort" for me is usually either tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, or pasta with marinara sauce.

But I use good cheddar for the grilled cheese and I make the tomato soup and marinara sauce myself from scratch, which classes up the joint.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:27 AM on January 29


I think there's something to be said for having a wide breadth in your standards, rather than having them cluster in any one part of the spectrum: one should cultivate a healthy appreciation for every culinary species, from the lowly gas station taquito to the most exquisite truffle, rather than consistently favoring one class over the other.

That being said, these photos have plunged me into a deep abyss of despair that I fear I shall never climb out of.
posted by invitapriore at 10:28 AM on January 29 [3 favorites]


I just can't handle the spaghetti-o's on toast with cheese. Nope.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 10:32 AM on January 29


My boss just asked me to do some research on what other subway systems/transit agencies are doing for suicide prevention. So I have spent some time this morning reading about suicides, thinking about suicides and, of course, reading examples of how to prevent suicides. Then I thought, "I'll just check into Metafilter and find something funny to cheer myself up..."

This was the wrong thread for that. I'm off to look at Cuteoverload.
posted by agatha_magatha at 10:34 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


Dinner of last resort for me these days is usually hardboiled eggs, thick-sliced salami, black olives, carrot sticks, mini bell peppers, sourdough rolls, and a drained can of fruit, all set out on the table on a platter where everyone can help themselves. Or else potstickers, rice, and steamed broccoli. I have 4 people to feed, all of whom have different and contradictory dietary requirements, and it's enough to drive a woman around the bend. I once put a dinner on the table consisting of steamed rice, frozen Korean fish cakes which had been steamed in the rice cooker, and sweet corn. I'm not proud, just desperate!
posted by KathrynT at 10:35 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


If The Seventh Seal were made today the last scene would be Death feeding Spaghetti-Os to the knight and assembled company, instead of the Totentanz.
posted by invitapriore at 10:37 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


Is this where we can share our weird sad meals that we secretly enjoy? Ok here I go.

Canned tuna on King's Hawaiian Rolls with hot sauce.

Sorry not sorry.
posted by mcmile at 10:40 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


I am starving right now, as I wait for the painfully, obnoxiously slow restaurant around the corner to arrive with the only decent deliverable low-carb meal available in my area; and I am vaguely ashamed at how looking at some of these sad, disgusting little dinners is making my stomach growl.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:43 AM on January 29


Dinner of last resort for me these days is usually hardboiled eggs, thick-sliced salami, black olives, carrot sticks, mini bell peppers, sourdough rolls, and a drained can of fruit, all set out on the table on a platter where everyone can help themselves.

That's basically a Ploughman's. Nothing wrong with that at all.
posted by Hoopo at 10:43 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


Personal favorite disgusting dinner: instant mashed potatoes, prepared; with tuna, salsa and canned parmesan cheese mixed in.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:45 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


But I use good cheddar for the grilled cheese

I like to do that too, but since we have a 1-year-old now, "Kraft Singles" processed cheese slices are back in the house. In order for her to actually eat it I have to make a grilled cheese out of a Kraft Single and 2 pieces of French Toast, with crusts cut off. And I have to take a bite first so she will follow suit. It is the richest food in the universe, I feel like every bite takes a week off my life.
posted by Hoopo at 10:47 AM on January 29


British cooking's greatest hits

With an extra helping of sickly, yellow-brownish, 1970s fluorescent lighting.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:50 AM on January 29


But I use good cheddar for the grilled cheese and I make the tomato soup and marinara sauce myself from scratch, which classes up the joint.

Oh come on. You make the soup and sauce from scratch? It's like you're not even trying to not try.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:51 AM on January 29 [6 favorites]


After my daughter was diagnosed "failure to thrive" (sidebar: is there a more terribly-named diagnosis in the world?) we were trying with immense desperation to get more weight on her, doing things like scrambling eggs with so much butter that they didn't set so much as they congealed. Those eggs, left virtually untouched on the plate, are my official Saddest Food in the World.

(we figured out the issue and now she is fine and happy and healthy! She just can't eat any fruits or vegetables or legumes or whole grains. As long as she lives on a diet of chicken nuggets, fries, and diet 7-up, she's peachy keen. but oh, those buttery eggs.)
posted by KathrynT at 10:53 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


...when I don't want to cook I just eat bread and cheese, maybe with some of the fruit or smoked meat I try to keep in. Some of that and a square of dark chocolate hits the spot.

I mean if I really don't want to cook I take a handful of fiber pills and a few fingers of bourbon.
posted by The Whelk at 10:54 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


Oh come on. You make the soup and sauce from scratch? It's like you're not even trying to not try.

Yeah, but I make it by scratch by the assload and keep it in the fridge, so on the days I don't want to try I can just glop it over pasta.

Okay, yeah, it's still kinda foodie, you're right.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:02 AM on January 29


Loved this bit of shittyfoodporn.
posted by plinth at 11:02 AM on January 29


A buddy of mine works at a local upscale restaurant and I've had dinner with him and what he made was absolutely incredible. I said, "wow - you must have the most incredible meals at home." He replied, "weelllll...I'm just as likely to have a can of Spaghettios." Then we really bonded, because I have an occasional thing for the artistry of Chef Boyardee - and like my Spaghettios cold, eaten right out of the can because, dude, it comes in it's own bowl. You only have to wash a spoon!
posted by plinth at 11:11 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


My own personal failuredinner is the "tater-tot sandwich."

Heat tater-tots until crispy, place on kaiser or similar roll, place slice of velveeta cheese on top of tater tots, flip sandwich and squirt ketchup on other side of tater-tots. Press, and consume in semi-darkness while watching Bering Sea Gold. Pairs well with several cans of Old Style, or similar regional American lager.


It's basically a chip butty, but with extra hopelessness.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:21 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


If living alone, think twice before cooking pork shoulder.

Day 1: Did I really just cook a hunk of meat the size of my own head? Hey, it's pretty good!

Day 2: Also good served cold! I love leftovers.

Day 3: That marinade worked out well, though it's a bit salty. Unfortunately it means I can't really dress the pork up in alternate ways. I guess I'll just throw it on a slab of pumpernickel and microwave it.

Day 4: So...salty...

Day 5: Man I've got to finish this up. It's not going to keep in the fridge forever. Maybe I'll start having some with breakfast too...

Day 6: There is only pork. Pork is all there has ever been. Dancing at the edges of my peripheral vision, pork. Strange geometries of pork. Ia! Ia! Shalub swinurath!

Day 7: Bone! Inedible bone! I seize it in my hands, scrape the last remnants of meat off with my teeth and hoist it high above my head like an ape from 2001.

So yeah, it cuts your food budget for the week to about $20 but at a terrible price. Bachelors: for variety's sake cook things that freeze well.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:28 AM on January 29 [20 favorites]


No way, man, a pork shoulder is the best thing. Get the skin-on picnic shoulder and make pernil, no need for a complicated (or salty) marinade.

Also it totally freezes well. Split it into single-serving-sized packets first.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:37 AM on January 29 [3 favorites]


add more Doritos and this is pretty much "The Stoner Gourmet"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:43 AM on January 29


I will not have my stoner brothers slandered good sir. Some of the most complicated, time-consuming, delicately layered, spun-silk dishes have been made by people more freshly baked than the french bread.
posted by The Whelk at 11:45 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


The pork shoulder problem, challenge mode: I live alone, but have no freezer.
posted by pemberkins at 12:12 PM on January 29


The pork shoulder problem, challenge mode: I live alone, but have no freezer.

I'm reminded of a recipe for Loon Soup someone swears they saw in an Inuit cookbook, or a cookbook that was claiming to be Inuit:
Loon Soup: Do not try to make loon soup.
He replied, "weelllll...I'm just as likely to have a can of Spaghettios." Then we really bonded, because I have an occasional thing for the artistry of Chef Boyardee....

I once picked up a random issue of the foodie magazine Lucky Peach because it had the apocalypse as a theme, and was actually really awesome as a result - the first half was a mix of serious articles about the potential dangers to the food supply and the ways people have tried to stock up for emergencies, mixed in with some recipes that used canned and shelf-stable foods that actually were pretty decent; the second half was a tongue-in-cheek series of articles about "how to cook after the apocalypse", including a plausible-sounding recipe for pork chops using seawater and a whole mess of recipes for jellyfish, plus tips for foraging.

At some point they had a couple of guys do a taste-test of the various brands of canned pasta-with-sauce out on the market. I think the conclusion they came to was that Chef Boy-ar-dee was pretty bad - but the others were even worse, so fuck it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:21 PM on January 29


how to be a husky, dateless, surly, and presently unemployed guy on the verge of descending into poverty and madness while somehow managing to live with some grace and luxury.

Hi! I am virtually all of these things and can I read your manual please?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:26 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]


The pork shoulder problem, challenge mode: I live alone, but have no freezer.

Serve by torchlight with a large knife and The Doors' "The End" playing on the stereo.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:28 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]


The pork shoulder problem, challenge mode: I live alone, but have no freezer.

Have friends over for a potluck. You provide the pork, they provide buns/coleslaw/beer/beer/beer/beer/bourbon/beer.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:30 PM on January 29


When I was a student and couldn't cook I used to make "pizza" out of pita bread, bits of sliced ham, canned mushrooms and processed cheese. One of the problems with it was that the cheese didn't stick to the bread, so when I took them out of the oven I had to hold them in a cup shape or everything would slide off into my lap. My other culinary masterpiece consisted of grilled chicken legs and rice or mashed potatoes with a can of mushroom soup (just what was in the can, no milk or water added) poured overtop. My housemates dubbed it "mushroom glop."
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:32 PM on January 29


Serve by torchlight with a large knife and The Doors' "The End" playing on the stereo

I just had a brief yet agonizingly terrible flashback to what an annoying 13 year old I was.
posted by elizardbits at 12:39 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]


Have friends over for a potluck. You provide the pork, they provide buns/coleslaw/beer/beer/beer/beer/bourbon/beer.

In all seriousness, people should totally do something like this. I once worked at a job that gave all its employees a ten-pound ham each Christmas, in lieu of a bonus; that kind of thing is a lovely gesture for a family, but not so much for a single woman in her 20's who was going back to the family homestead for Christmas, and then coming home to the apartment she shared with a roommate. (A Jewish roommate, he would have hastened to add.)

So I had this ten-pound ham I didn't know what to do with, and at Christmas my aunt said I should just pick a random day and throw an open-house casual house party, where I cooked up the ham and had a lot of sandwich fixings and any one of my friends was welcome to drop by any time and fix themselves a sandwich and just hang out. So I gave that a shot.

It was so much fun that I kept "HamFest" as a regular social thing on my calendar for the next ten years, even after I'd stopped working for that company and I had to buy it myself.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:48 PM on January 29 [6 favorites]


Martha Stewart can play too (the comments really make it)
posted by exogenous at 2:20 PM on January 29 [3 favorites]


Martha Stewart can play too

Pasta hankerchiefs?

What do you serve over that, neti pot roast?
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:29 PM on January 29


AKA Sabor de Soledad
posted by Ratio at 3:02 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


Just thinking about what a make when I don't want to be bothered ...roast garlic spread on toast? Dried figs? Gritty mustard in a cracker? Hummus and whatever? Packaged soup? ( Chicken and stars tastes DIFFERENT than chicken noodle because it tastes like CHILDHOOD) Grilled cheese?

I mean one of my comfort foods was literally just fried bread and bacon ( one helped the other) but then I got seriously depressed for a year and ate it all the time and blew up like a balloon.
posted by The Whelk at 3:03 PM on January 29


Oh man a Ham Sandwich Party would be the best party.
posted by Sara C. at 4:37 PM on January 29


Also just to get in on this shit I will say that last night for dinner I had bread and cheese.

I was "workin on my night cheese".
posted by Sara C. at 4:38 PM on January 29 [3 favorites]


My "can't be bothered" is definitely a sort of Ina Garten style prepared finger foods graze.
posted by Sara C. at 4:44 PM on January 29


Only if you use Only The Good Fingers.

Taken from All The Best People.
posted by The Whelk at 4:46 PM on January 29 [3 favorites]


Sometimes I make something that I am convinced is going to be terrific but it just turns out to be food. Because it is edible, as in it won't kill you and you have nothing else, it can be labeled food, but enjoying it is not really part of the ingestion process.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 5:13 PM on January 29


Our road to flawless kitchen ease is paved with many tipped into the garbage good intentions.
posted by The Whelk at 5:16 PM on January 29


I'll tell you one thing—I wish I'd learned about the mother sauces two decades ago, because once you develop a moderate facility with those, learn a bit about things that always work together and thing that never do, and work out a set of root dishes that can be built into wonderful little culinary treasures made of whatever stale, gone-to-seed, oddball stuff you can find in the fridge.

My core vocabulary, for instance, includes a lot of crêpes, because they're an example of a dish that requires hardly any ingredients, but which can be dressed up sweet, savory, and/or exotic depending on what you have on hand. Those starting-to-go mushroooms? Sauté them with butter and some onions and some dried herbs, then make a béchamel, fold 'em into a savory crepe with the last scrap of that nice cheddar you found at the back of the fridge, and you can end a day of angrily browsing USAJOBS.gov with a little grace.

I'm a fan of thai curries, so I keep a few tubs of various curry pastes in the fridge and when I'm flush or have a little free time, I buy the cheap-shelf dented cans of coconut milk, empty them into an ice cube tray, and freeze them into a nice set of 2 tbsp blocks for solo cooking. What's in the fridge? A couple carrots, half an onion, zucchini frozen in the freezer—just cut it nicely, simmer with a few cubes of coconut milk and curry paste, and serve it over a half block of ramen, cooked al dente with the bouillon packet set aside for future uses.

Soups can be an amazing core, too. A basic Irish potato soup cooked on a weekend, divided into two cup portions and frozen, can be the root of all sorts of things, depending on what you have on hand or can afford. Add a bit of milk, the dregs of a bottle of stout, and some nice cheddar, or cut up a leek and a half tilapia filet, or add sausage and kale—you can get so many variations out of one session of weekend soup-making.

Of course, all of this requires a bit of forethought, planning, and self-discipline, but in the end, the world does not care about you, so you have to. You have to believe, on some level, that no matter how low your station or how long it's going to take you to dig your way out of yet another hole, you are worth the effort required to make a moment of satisfaction out of almost nothing.

I think, sometimes, that I'm expressing an ironic futility, setting my well-arranged plate on the table in a dimly-lit room with the dog watching, in saying "Bon appétit!" in my best impersonation of Julia Child, but I'm not.

NIHIL HABENTES, ET OMNIA POSSIDENTES

posted by sonascope at 6:52 AM on January 30 [5 favorites]


sonascope, if you live anywhere near an Asian grocery or a restaurant supply store, check there for prices on coconut milk. What costs me $3.89 or more at my regular grocery store is $1.19 at the Asian market or $0.77 at the restaurant supply store.
posted by KathrynT at 8:11 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]


I'm lucky, in that, even in a smallish town, I'm within bicycling distance of two Indian grocery stores and one giant Super Best Market Asian/Latin ultrastore.
posted by sonascope at 8:25 AM on January 30


Oh man a Ham Sandwich Party would be the best party.

I kicked up a notch one year when I was working in an office where I also scored a whole smoked turkey from someone who'd gotten it as a gift from one of our clients - and she didn't want it. I added the smoked turkey to the ham on the table, and at about 4 in the afternoon I took big hunks off the ham and the turkey and made up a batch of jambalaya people could help themselves to along with the sandwiches.

...This may have been a bad idea in retrospect, as my friends started coming to expect jambalaya each time and would start timing their arrival to coincide with it; so I'd have maybe two people in the early part of the day and then a crowd suddenly descending in the late afternoon at all HamFests thereafter.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:30 AM on January 30


Oh, and sonascope - we should totally compare notes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:32 AM on January 30


sonascope, if you live anywhere near an Asian grocery or a restaurant supply store, check there for prices on coconut milk. What costs me $3.89 or more at my regular grocery store is $1.19 at the Asian market or $0.77 at the restaurant supply store.

Asian markets around Seattle are great sources of cheap Asian, Caribbean and Latino ingredients. A little can of coconut milk runs $0.89 there, while the same can at Whole Foods or Safeway is twice the cost.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:11 PM on January 30


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