Flavor? I love flavor!
If I could have access to only one of the zany inventions from Futurama, I know exactly which one I’d pick. I’d forego the spaceships and jetpacks and and Lucy Liu robots and go straight for the Bachelor Chow, which is basically just cheap, generic, no-preparation food for slobbish lazy guys who live alone. That shit would change my life.
Sure, we’ve got Top Ramen and microwave dinners and other stuff that serves the same general purpose, but it lacks the bluntness. Bachelor food today still tries to hide its real purpose behind careful labeling, which makes it infinitely more depressing to buy.
Like “family size” frozen dinners – seriously, Stouffer’s? You know from your marketing data and I know from experience that the people buying your “family sized” frozen mac and cheese aren’t busy parents on the go who need a quick meal to feed their family – they’re just lazy single guys who are particularly hungry that night.
Or how they’ve started putting twice as many M&Ms in one bag and calling it “sharing size,” which is just bullshit. Nobody shares sharing size M&Ms; they just scurry off alone and gobble down two servings of M&Ms like Gollum. Calling it “sharing size” doesn’t do anything but create an awkward situation with the cashier. “Yeah, I know that this is two peoples’ worth of M&Ms. My friend is waiting for me at my apartment, and we’re going to share them when I get there, I promise.”
If Bachelor Chow were a real thing, there wouldn’t be any of that embarrassment at checkout, because Bachelor Chow doesn’t try to hide what it really is. “Why yes, I am buying Bachelor Chow. Well, since you ask, I’m buying it because I’m a bachelor and I want something cheap and plentiful that I can use to stave off hunger a couple times a day without having to take time out of my busy schedule to turn on the stove.”
When I was growing up I never would have imagined that I would one day have this attitude. As a child, eating was a really exciting experience because my mother was and is the best cook in the world, which meant that every meal was some new and exotic culinary adventure – or it was just burritos, but that was okay with me too because burritos are awesome.
Now that I have to plan and prepare my own meals, eating is pretty much just a chore. I don’t have enough foresight and maturity to give any thought to what I might want to eat until I’m actually hungry, at which point I briefly survey my food supplies, choose the meal that I can prepare the fastest, and eat it in my room in front of my computer.
There are usually three things on the menu at my apartment:
Sometimes I cook up some Ralph’s brand macaroni* with Paul Newman red sauce (and a generous squirt of Sriracha). This is tasty, but it’s my least preferred option because, since I was raised by a pair of insurance professionals, I am physically incapable of leaving the kitchen while the stove is on. For that reason, cooking pasta means I have to spend 15 to 20 minutes of my long, rambling, unstructured day standing in the kitchen making sure the apartment doesn’t burn down, which is more responsibility than I want to have.
*When buying dry pasta I only buy either macaroni or penne, purely because bite sized pasta is less work to eat. The More You Know!
More often I make some white rice with steamed frozen vegetables, which I eat with soy sauce (and a generous squirt of Sriracha). The main advantage to this meal is that once I get everything set up in my rice cooker I just hit ‘cook’ and walk the hell away until dinner is ready half an hour later. The downside is that I eat this meal so often that I get pretty sick of it. Usually that doesn’t stop me from making it, because I’d rather eat the same meal for a fifth time in the row than spend 20 minutes making pasta.
Most of the time I wind up eating three pieces of whole wheat bread with peanut butter spread on them. I was writing a script on a deadline earlier this year, and for those three months I’d say this was pretty much the only meal I ate, because I could prepare it lightning quick and always count on it to keep me filled up.
To be fair, calling it a “meal” is a little bit of an overstatement – it’s really just a ritual I perform when I want to stop being hungry for a few hours. I’ve eaten so many pieces of Orowheat with Jif on them that I can’t even taste it anymore. Honestly, it doesn’t even count as “eating” – it’s just desperate, grudging, consumption to keep starvation at bay.
I really do love food, and believe it or not I also enjoy cooking. But when I was growing up, food and cooking were always social activities – for a long time I did my homework at the kitchen table while my Mom cooked, and we ate dinner together as a family every night. (Occasionally we’d watch TV during dinner, but only for special occasions, like when Ken Jennings was on Jeopardy!)
For me, the people you’re eating with are as important to the meal as the food itself. Right now, I’m at a place in my life where I eat most of my meals alone, so I don’t really see the point in pulling out all the stops to prepare an extravagant meal when I’m going to be the only one enjoying it. Why spend an hour making a casserole for one when I’d be just as happy stuffing my face with peanut butter or pasta or steamed broccoli in half the time?
If only Bachelor Chow existed, I wouldn't even have to choose between peanut butter, pasta, or steamed broccoli. A man can dream, can't he?
Truman Capps has already had several people tell him to get a crockpot.