SWelcome to the Feedbag, where all the dumb questions about food, drink, cooking, eating, and accidental finger removal you've been embarrassed to ask can finally receive the berating they goddamn deserve. Also: answers. Send all your even-vaguely-food-related questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Feedbag." All of them.
My wife is an okay cook,
And by "okay" you mean "OK," of course.
and by "okay" I mean "her food is edible."
Are you listening to me at all, Brad?
However, given the choice, I would almost always rather go out or make dinner myself than have her make something for me, but it's awfully hard to turn down "would you like me to make dinner?" without sounding like a complete asshole.
I dunno, "Oh, that's OK honey, you can take a break; I'll throw something together," sounds pretty sweet to me. Tried that one?
We've tried the whole "make something together" idea, but we just end up getting in each other's way and it doesn't mesh well.
I suppose it's possible that you have a really tiny kitchen, or that one or the other of you is deaf, or blind, or that you are both giants. I also suppose it's possible that this is a bullshit excuse and what you really want is permission to complain about the free meals your wife is making for you.
Do you have any suggestions?
Sure! This one's for everybody else reading this: Bite down on something before you read the next sentence. Leather strap, sturdy wooden spoon, something. Ready?
I don't want to offend her, but I also dislike eating subpar meals.
[flings laptop into Mariana Trench]
No no, Brad: thank you.
Look, buddy, I understand that it can be disappointing to eat boring food (incidentally, this is why literally no one has ever eaten a meal at an Olive Garden, ever, and the Olive Garden employees just shuffle around the dusty dining rooms of their billion locations, sobbing and replacing the water in the water glasses as it evaporates into the atmosphere). On the other hand, you're also an adult, or anyway you're married which means that you are supposed to act like an adult, which means that you were supposed to have figured out long before now that you and you alone are responsible for your own happiness. That's a roundabout way of telling you to pull your head out of your ass and make dinner.
Brad, there's a reason why your wife asks you whether you'd like her to make dinner. She's giving you an opportunity to either
- (A) be a cruel asshole and say "No, I'm sorry, but I don't really like your cooking," (this is a terrible idea), or
- (B) take responsibility for ensuring that the food you will be inserting into your face isn't "subpar" by cooking it yourself or helping her prepare it, or
- (C) make the conscious choice to prioritize having your meal cooked for you by someone else for free over eating exactly the quality of food you'd most enjoy, and shaddap about it.
To your credit, it seems that you've chosen (C) and not griped to her about her cooking. That's certainly better than (A), but then you're also silently nursing resentment and making excuses for not taking responsibility for your own happiness, which, I mean, that wasn't even an option on the list, Brad, for chrissakes it's like I'm talking to a pile of wood chips, here.
In a second you're going to get some reasonably practical advice for dealing with your "subpar"-meal problem, but first, I want you to go on an Imagination Quest. Imagine that your wife is humming along with her life, doing her best to make a tasty dinner every night, totally unaware that her husband thinks her food is no better than "edible" and quietly resents her for serving it to him. Imagine how sad she might feel, if she learned that the person she trusts most in the world (you) would rather passively allow her to continue unwittingly disappointing and annoying him night after night, rather than protect her from his own resentment and disappointment by simply helping her make better meals, or stepping up and cooking some friggin' dinners of his own. Imagine what a lonely and embarrassed feeling that would be, for her. Imagine what a hero you could be if you could protect her from ever feeling that feeling, and imagine what a nice luxury it would be if you could do that for her via something as easy as saying, "Honey, would you mind if I cooked dinner tonight? I actually really like cooking dinner for us."
Bummed? Feeling like maybe, of the two of you, she's the one who's getting a raw deal, here? Thinking that maybe you've kinda been thinking like an entitled, excuse-making heel? Here's how to fix that. This afternoon, swing by the supermarket and pick out some fun ingredients for a tasty, simple, easy-to-prepare dinner. A big slab of salmon, some rice, and the ingredients for a tasty salad, for example. When you get home, announce with some excitement that you had a craving for whatever you're making—salmon, in our example—and you're gonna cook it for dinner. Cook dinner. And then, while you're eating, when your wife compliments you on the dinner you prepared, say, "Thanks! It was actually really fun."
Do that a few times a week, and you will cut the number of "subpar" meals in your life in half, at least. The rest of the time, if she really wants to cook dinner, maybe you could try thinking about what a wonderful stroke of good fortune you've received, to share a home with a nice pretty lady who loves you enough to cook you the best food she can make.
I bet you can do that. I think you're gonna. Because you're a good guy and you love your wonderful wife, right? Of course. Go get 'em, tiger.
In Goodfellas, while they're in prison, Paulie uses a razor to cut the garlic "so thin it would liquefy in the pan with a little oil." Is this really possible?
Yeah, more or less.
Besides being badass, would liquefied garlic make my food taste better?
No. But if you're the kind of weenie who is afraid of sand-granule-sized flecks of minced garlic in his food (or, alternatively, if you are in prison for a host of organized-crime-related charges, and bored out of your mind), slicing your garlic tissue-paper-thin with a razor blade may have its merits.
Do you have any similar cooking tips that seem simultaneously badass and high class?
About the most authentically badass cooking technique I can think of is cooking a steak directly on the hot coals (rather than on a grill suspended above them). Blow the ash off the coals first, then slap the steak directly on 'em. That's pretty cool. For extra badass-ness, make a campfire in the wilderness, and, like, just fuckin' frisbee the steak onto the embers like it's the badge of the U.S. marshal you just gunned down in El Paso, and you are sending it to meet (meat?) him in hell. Fuck you, steak! Here's what I think of you!
Then again, the part where you tenderly extract the steak from the fire and then eat it on a plate with a fork and knife kinda detracts from the badassery. Maybe grip it with your bare, burning hands, and just bite into it like a goddamn wolf? Or just eat it raw? Oh man, that's the most badass shit of all; just, like, fuckin' stalk through the prairie butt-naked and (for some reason) slathered with deer urine, and, like, leap shrieking onto a wild bison's back and chow down while it bucks and runs and moos, or whatever. It's possible we're going too far with this. No, I would not like any fries with that.
(On a slightly parsimonious dipshit note, don't you think mincing your garlic with a huge, sharp, terrifying kitchen knife is a lot more badass than spending a half-hour slicing it tissue-thin with a tiny little razor blade like some kind of obsessive-compulsive weirdo? I sure as hell do. People who slice their garlic with razor blades are the same people who flounce around in skin-suits when the moon is full. That's not badass at all.)
PBR has become such a punchline that I wonder if it's even acceptable to purchase, much less consume. It's a decent, if completely forgettable beer. It's cheap as hell, and I've used it in chili because, to me, it's the definition of "generic beer," and I wasted some really excellent beer in chili once and I will never do that again. Still, I question the decision to buy a beer that is still marketing itself on a ribbon it won 120 years ago.
This is not a question.
Albert Burneko is an eating enthusiast and father of two. His work can be found destroying everything of value in his crumbling home, or in shorter form on Twitter @albertburneko. You can find lots more Foodspin at foodspin.deadspin.com.
Image by Jim Cooke.