Oh BFD! (Bad Food Decisions)

I had a great conversation last night with a few neighbors. (What a great hook for a blessay! That’s a blog essay, not to be confused with a bletaphor, blumor, or blotographs, which will come later. But wait, there’s more!)  And so now I’m going to tell you about this conversation whether you like it or not. (Always a good idea to berate your audience in the first paragraph.)  But I regress to some seriousness.

We spoke about how important it is, imperative really, to eat well, especially in the morning.  Not how a poor diet effects weight gain or loss, or about cholesterol, or anything else in the canon of dietary morals that we’ve all heard so many times and don’t hear anymore.   I’m gonna shove that bolus of saturated fat called a breakfast burrito into my face despite knowing it could precipitate heart failure.   I’m gonna smoke that pack of cigarettes despite the huge warning on the label.  Rather, it was about blood sugar.  But even that is perhaps too science-ish.  I’m talking about how eating makes you feel – physically, and even emotionally.

[By this point, you may have noticed a slight departure from Childishman’s normal banter.  Well, maybe that’s all part of being a childish man.  You want me to go this way, so I go that way.  Maybe out of spite or just to give y’all an early Christmas surprise.  You’re welcome!  But I won’t get into the details of blood sugar management nor the Hypoglycemic Index.  You probably know it or can it within seconds if you care to.  Back to my tale.]

I felt guilty about the three pieces of pizza I’d just eaten because I know better.  Both Thanksgiving and my 10 year anniversary tour have passed so I can’t use those as excuses any longer and hope to look at myself in the mirror without disgust, at least not without electroshock therapy or some serious plastic surgery.  I intended to get my shit together again.

When I awoke this morning, I got out a breakfast casserole we’d made over the weekend (ingredients: eggs, cheese, sausage and about a loaf of cheap white bread), popped a serving in the microwave and ate it before the kids came down and I rushed them off to school.  By the time I’d dropped them off, I was hungry again.  I needed a few basics from the store anyway, and as luck would have it (but it’s not luck at all is it!) there’s a refrigerator case right inside the entrance with prepared foods – old sandwiches, hot dogs wrapped in foil, and (dum dum dum) biscuits.  Chicken biscuits, a dollar each.

Chicken WrapperHmm.  I shouldn’t.  I’m pretty sure the reason I’m already hungry is because of all the bread in that—

But they’re only a dollar!

I dunno. I can’t even see what the biscuit looks like since it’s bundled in some kind of fishwrap.

Only a dollar. And hungry we are!

I can’t even read how to prepare it.  Is that font size legal?

It’ll be fine. It’s only a dollar!

You know I bought it.  When I got home, I had to take a picture of the back label and download it to my computer so I could blow it up in order to read how to heat up the damn thing.  And when I finally read it, it warned me not to take the biscuit out of the wrapper before microwaving.  One might think this is for uniform heating, but this is basic consumer psychology.

The makers of this processed food product know well that any of us would run batshit crazy out of our homes and move to Canada if we saw what one of these uncooked things looked like.  This response is practically hard-wired in humans.  And they also know that if they can get us to nuke the crap out of it – and I mean that not only to be crude but also literally – if they can get us to zap the well-developed civilizations of bacteria inside that disc of chicken mush, which also releases a smell reminiscent of actual food, then they’ve got us.

Well, at least they got me, for 320 calories and 44 grams of carbs.

The point(s) is/are:  I’ve done this before.  I’ll probably do it again.  I’m a professional (numb nut, that is).  Don’t try this at home.  And, finally, the best intentions, ideas, and knowledge don’t mean a damn thing if I don’t pay attention to what it feels like to do this.

Bathroom ReadingAt least I’ve got a well-stocked shelf of good bathroom reading material.  Because I just might be there awhile.

This Food’s Here to Represent!

Early in our relationship my wife and I went to a family cookout where coon was served.  This made both of us uncomfortable, but my god, why?  Finding and killing a critter that rummages through the garbage, cleaning it, and roasting the shit out of it – that, I thought, is quintessential southern cooking.  But apparently, there is more to southern cooking than contracting rabies. 

Since then we’ve added two children to our family so that I could experiment with my own dinner creations.  Occasionally, my kids will love a particular meal but, of course, when I make it again a bad moon begins to rise, FEMA trailers pull in the driveway, and specialists are dispatched from the Vatican with the tools needed to perform the Rite of Exorcism.  But now I know it’s not what’s in the meal that is important, rather its presentation.   

So when I stumbled upon a 1976 series of Southern Living cookbooks I knew I’d hit the jackpot.  Though we may chastise the music and dress of our former 70s selves, they were onto something when it came to food. 

Here are a few recipes that I have resurrected and updated.  Bon Appetit!

Iwo Jima Cornish Hens – It might take you a couple of shots to get this one just right – with each hen reaching the top of Mt. Pilaf and holding up weeds from your back yard while trying to shake off the life-preserver glued to its back.  But once you do you’ll have an iconic meal that will stay with you forever.  Seriously, it will stay lodged in your colon for the rest of your life.  But at least that won’t be very long. 

 

BDSM Wild Duck – When you show this recipe to the birds you stole from the local pond, you’ll have to give them the old “Gimp” treatment from Pulp Fiction so they can’t escape.  Just tie them down with the rainbow suspenders that you refused to donate to the yard sale and you’ll have yourself a grunting good time.

 

This one is aptly named, and I’m serious, Lord Jim’s Mincemeat Plum Pudding, referring to Joseph Conrad’s novel Lord Jim.  As in his better-known Heart of Darkness (later adapted into the movie Apocalypse Now), Conrad creates a complex psychological landscape.  Likewise, the domestic chef must manifest this meal as a metastasizing molten mountain, its true ingredients masked by a mesmerizing maze mold.  It should be served with a large jar of stale, crushed Utz pretzels, as pictured.

Roasted Ham with Doo-Doo of Rabbit – Roast the ham on a spit in the fireplace, and towards the end knock it over to give it a nice coating of ash.  After letting it sit there awhile and cool off, the kids’ fluffy pet will happily snuggle up and add its natural side-item to this family favorite.

 

Raw Egg Pie with Murdered Starfish

 

Emasculated Bulls on the Half-Shell

 

He Sleeps with Catfishes – As in the old country, loose lips will get you a mouth full of parsley and sunk to the bottom of a nearby body of water.  No need to cook here.  Just wrap up the raw catfish fillets, toss a shovel load of dirt on top while saying a few Hail Marys, and leave it on the doorstep of your loudmouthed neighbor who will surely get the message.

 

[p.s. the spawn of this idea came from a book named The Gallery of Regrettable Foods by James Lileks that I saw some years ago. You should check it out. ]

Sweater Meats and John Travolta

Here’s a little clue about what it’s been like to live my life.

Some years ago my wife dared me to put on a dark pink sweater of hers that even she wouldn’t wear and walk outside to get the mail.  Maybe I dared her to dare me, she said “whatever,” and then I felt obligated to follow through to avoid looking like a complete pussy. But whatever.

So I put it on and walked out to the mailbox, no problem, until I was a few steps on the way back when my neighbor roared around the corner and into his driveway in his Mac truck-inspired Dodge Ram pickup.  I hurried across my lawn.  Notice I didn’t say “I ran,” because I don’t.  Apparently, I learned to move from watching claymation films.  I flow-morph in an unbalanced and haphazard way to my final, and usually unfortunate, destination (Oh No, Mr. Bill!).  And standing inside the now-closed and bolted front door, at 6-foot-5 and wearing what looked like a vest made of salmon flesh, I wondered if he’d seen me.  Maybe he drives with his eyes closed, I thought.

“That was quick,” said my wife, briefly looking up from whatever she was doing.

“Ed just pulled in,” I said, trying to catch my breath.

“That’s a surprise,” she responded without emotion, having known that this precise thing would happen.

I sat down on the couch knowing that this big adventure into the world would be my last for a while.  I’d stay in my bubble until I got bored with its predictability and then I’d jump out with something else absurd, though maybe not quite so Ethel Mermanish next time.

So to hell with John Travolta.  He jumped out of his bubble in that movie and he died.  That, I think, is a metaphor.  And you don’t need to guess what would’ve happened if he’d stayed in the bubble.  Just look at the real John Travolta.  He gets famous, and then brainwashed, eventually dressing up like an alien shill for Dianetics.

And there you have it.