Meal Kit Delivery Made Me A Worse Person

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Illustration: Sam Woolley (GMG)

Your letters:


What is the line between cooking vs. preparing food? When I make a dinner from a meal delivery service, I follow the recipe to the letter. My wife claims that I have “cooked” dinner, I argue that I merely prepared the meal.

You cooked if you had to boil, grill, roast, bake, sear, poach, sauté, simmer, or fry any basic ingredient. If you took it upon yourself to elicit a chemical change in a piece of meat or a starch that is NOT a ramen noodle, you have cooked. So yes, if you’ve cooked shit out of a Blue Apron box or whatever, you cooked it. So long as there’s heat involved, it’s all good. Frankly, if you had to chop a lot of shit, you should get credit for that, because chopping things is a pain in the ass and I don’t care for it. I know you merely “prep” the food when you chop it, but it takes longer to make a fucking salad than it does to cook a steak. So if you made a salad from scratch, you deserve praise as far as I’m concerned, because there was no way I was making one myself.

Always accept credit for cooking, even when you don’t think it’s deserved. Those are free brownie points you’re turning down, amigo. Don’t be like my mom and go, “Oh it was no trouble at all!” after setting out a three-course brunch. I got eyes, mom. I saw what you did. You will take your credit and you will LIKE it. Your false humility is fooling NO ONE.


Now, let’s talk about meal kits for a second. I am very fortunate in that I work from home, so I’m not as pressed for time as someone who has to schlep to a workplace every day. The prospect of having to make an extra grocery run on the way home, toiling in the aisles behind humpbacked old people, is enough to make anyone want to die. I get the appeal of a meal kit if you’re someone who enjoys cooking but you want to leave the shopping and planning to someone else. Dreaming up dinner is a remarkably draining, especially with endless recipes available online to consider and then discard. Also, BIG DELIVERY always offers you, like, $12 off your first kit, and that’s how they get you. It’s almost certainly cheaper to go to the store to get your food, but these delivery services aren’t necessarily exorbitant.

But man, those kits are fucking wasteful. I saw a meal kit once where they used three different layers of packaging just to box up a couple of scallions. It’s insane. It’s like when you have Amazon Prime, as I did for a year, and all the shipping is free so you end up ordering like, staples for a buck because you need them and then they come nestled in 19 different boxes and wrapped in 12 square yards of bubble wrap. That’s probably not good for the Earth, and these services lull you into using them more frequently because they’re so terribly easy. Hit the BUY NOW button and a bottle of shampoo materializes at your doorstep. It’s hideously addictive. I could feel it seducing me.


Fighting against this kind of convenience is almost certainly futile, but it almost feels like an obligation at this point. I stopped subscribing to Prime. And I still go to the grocery store to get my shit, mostly because I don’t want someone picking my steak for me. I want full steak control. I also reserve the right to make an impulse pork rinds purchase if I so desire. SUCK ON THAT, BLUE APRON.


What’s going to happen to all the grandfather clocks from my parents’ generation when those people die? I know nobody my age with a grandfather clock in their house. I’m looking at it right and it’s going straight to the landfill when it’s mine.


But they’re so classy! Don’t you love a good, classy grandfather clock? My in-laws have one and every time it chimes it sounds like someone is about to get executed. SO METAL. I respect grandfather clocks. Antiques are the most boring thing in the world but at least grandfather clocks are functional and look like they belong in the atrium of a haunted mansion.

Anyway, tastes evolve with generations, but I can assure that no one starts out as an antique person. That’s a habit people grow into as they grow old and fussy and boring. My mom used to drag me into antique stores when I was a kid and I fucking hated it. And I still do to this day! They’re so cramped and smelly. There’s usually a fucking cat wandering around. I feel like people who are into antiques may as well be dead anyway.


But those people still out there. As long as mankind exists, there will be at least one person out there who sees a dusty lamp in a creepy old shop and is like OOOOOH! THAT MIGHT LOOK FETCHING IN THE PARLOR! I know you think you’ll be a cooler old person than our current batch old people, playing xBox and drinking Buzz Cola and listening to KEWL podcasts when you’re 75. I know I thought I would be a cool older person when I was a kid. I am not. Now I sit in a fucking recliner at night and enjoy long walks during the day. My chief goal in life now is to have everyone leave me alone. I get surly at teens. Old people will always do old person shit. Grandfather clocks will survive.


Does Superman enjoy watching sports? Even the greatest human athletes are pathetic uncoordinated weaklings compared to a Kryptonian; for him watching MLB must be like watching your kid’s T-ball league. Is he a good enough person that he can appreciate the competition for its own sake?


No, because he’s a fucking nerd. Or, at least, he’s cosplaying as a nerd. Maybe Superman himself takes an anthropological interest in earthlings voluntarily concussing themselves on a football field. But as Clark Kent, he has to pretend to be a clumsy dork who only looks like MORE of a dork if he tries to talk about Earth sports to everyone else at the Daily Planet. “Hello, fellow editors! Anyone catch the Metropolis Meteors game last night? It certainly was a great time! They hit the ball very far indeed!” And then everyone at the office makes the wank-wank motion at him and walks away. THE PERFECT COVER. No one suspects four-eyed dipshit Clark can hit the ball to Saturn.


Is there anything more useless in the universe than fridge magnets that aren’t strong enough to hold a piece of paper against said fridge? Ridiculous.


Well, that’s because most fridge magnets are strictly ornamental and were never designed to keep entire book reports aloft. It’s not like the dude running the Chinese factory cranking the magnets out for five cents a pallet was like, “Guys, we HAVE to improve the paper retention on these HANG IN THERE magnets. Bring me your finest engineers.” They’re shit. If you really want to post stuff on your fridge, just spring for one of those fancy magnets that has a clip attached to it. Problem solved.

Or, and hear me out on this, you don’t bother with fridge magnets at all. Our fridge does not have a magnetic door, which has this freed us from festooning yet another surface in this house with garbage. When you have kids, their shit is EVERYWHERE. I do my best to contain it. I tell the kids certain rooms are not for toys or craft projects or report cards any of their other crap. And yet, their crap seeps in anyway. It’s like herpes made of construction paper. So if we gotta put the honey-do list on a desk instead of littering up the front of an appliance with it, that’s fine. I yearn for clean surfaces. If you showed me a two-hour movie that was just footage of an empty countertop, I would weep with joy.



What’s the best proprietary condiment available at major chains? It’s gotta be Taco Bell sauces, right?


As someone who subjected his large intestine to plenty of Taco Bell back in the ‘90s, I do cherish the hot sauce. I used to always get the same order—three chicken soft tacos—and then DRENCH each one in that sauce. One bite and it would come gushing out the other side. I didn’t care. I used to lick the wrapper clean because that was what the ladies found sexy at the time. Here now are five other proprietary fast food condiments I enjoy:

  • Arby’s sauce and horsey sauce. I have not eaten at Arby’s since eighth grade, but I remember the Arby’s sauce being delightfully tangy. Really adds dimensionality to a pile of Grade-D coyote meat.
  • Baja Fresh’s black salsa. Baja Fresh is dying, and that’s understandable given the rise of Chipotle and other, superior bastardized Mexican food. But the black salsa at the Baja Fresh condiment bar was GREAT and I would still gladly slurp it directly from the container if I could. I remember having Baja Fresh the first time when I was visiting a friend in L.A., and he took me there and I was like, “Now this is some REAL Mexican food!” Like a total fucking yokel. Anyway, I got so into the black salsa there that I would stand at the bar as they did my order and meticulously fill up 90 of those little shit plastic containers for the ride home. People stared.
  • McDonald’s BBQ sauce. It’s just corn syrup and food coloring, but it really is magic with those McNuggets. When I was a kid, I actually swirled together the BBQ sauce and the sweet and sour sauce to make a BBQ and sour sauce. True genius, or just a sloppy fat child? I’ll let YOU decide.
  • Popeyes hot sauce. I mean, it’s probably the same shit as Texas Pete, but it does the job.
  • Sbarro marinara sauce. As with Baja Fresh, I once thought Sbarro was the absolute apex of ethnic dining, and I would lose my shit any time I came across a Sbarro and got to ogle the oversized pepperoni slices. Each slice had five pints of hog grease, and it was DELICIOUS. Cap that off with breadstick and a little tub of marinara sauce, and that’s healthy eating.

That’s more or less it for me. I know Chick-fil-A has six different sauces they call their own but I almost always eat my spicy chicken sandwich unadorned. For me, it’s all about the PURITY of deranged bigots having their workers soak a lump of chicken in buttermilk and pickle juice and then serving it to me on a greasy bun. It needs no other accompaniments.



What if in the home run derby, the winner had to go against an old retired legend slugger like you would in a video game? Like if the games is in St. Louis, in order to get the dumb trophy, you had to beat old ass Mark McGwire coming in fresh off the bench. Tell me you wouldn’t watch Bonds trying to launch the balls one last time.


Does McGwire get to do all the roids he wants? Because I don’t want a thin, old, feeble McGwire walking up to stroke ground balls to toddlers. I want him re-muscled up, with a fucking second dick growing out of his forehead, bashing taters into the sun. That’s the only way your challenge would be compelling. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure Aaron Judge would be able to out-duel a 54-year-old man. Also, Sammy Sosa looks like a mime now, so I don’t know if he’d be physically up to the challenge no matter how many drugs you stuck in his ass.

If you really want to get all the old roidheads back into the festivities, just stage a separate Home Run Derby for them. They already have a limp exhibition game that mixes celebrities and old-timers, and it sucks (Mike Greenberg once got to manage one of these teams and called for an intentional walk, because he’s a complete fucking pud). I say ditch that and bring back all the disgraced HGH boys and let them pound balls out of the stadium for $5 a ticket. I’d bring my kids. I wouldn’t even think twice about it. I’d be like, “Son, these guys were awesome at hitting home runs, and then they took drugs to be even more awesome at it. But now they’re old and their balls are the size of shirt buttons because of it.” If they still want to try steroids after that little lesson, more power to them.



Do you wash raw meat before you cook it?

Nope. I sure don’t. Handling raw chicken is awful enough. I feel like I’m conducting a human autopsy. I really don’t want to belabor the process by giving that chicken thigh a bath in my sink. The FDA says you shouldn’t because it could result in cross contamination, so listen to their advice and just get right to cooking. The drier the meat is when you season it or marinate it, the better. I don’t want any pesky water washing off the eight pounds of salt, sugar, and smoked paprika I added. That would be tragic.


By the way, sometimes to dry off raw meat, you have to use paper towels. Ever look at a paper towel after you just groped a raw chicken with it? Looks like you contracted an eight-day flu virus. It’s a deeply unpleasant part of the cooking process. Remind me to get Blue Apron instead.


Has there ever been a movie/TV series made from a book that is as good or better than the book?


Oh there are plenty of them. I never read The Godfather book but that’s because the movie’s perfect and I don’t need its memory sullied with even more wedding details, you know? The Lord of the Rings movies are awesome and the books are turgid. The movie version of Bridget Jones’s Diary is much more charming than its source material. There are plenty more where that came from.

And here’s one slightly spicy nominee: The Revenant. The movie and the book are VERY different, and they’re both worth checking out. But at the end of the novel (SPOILER ALERT), Hugh Glass does NOT kill Fitzgerald, which is a real letdown because “A Novel of Revenge” is right there in the fucking subtitle! More like “A Novel Of Dissatisfaction,” AMIRITE?!



If you could guarantee that your favorite baseball team would win 100 games and the World Series, but they would never have a hit (they’d score on walks, errors, etc.), would you do it?


Oh, so they’d play Moneyball the whole way through? HEY-OOOOOOOOOO!!! Someone pull Joe Morgan out of his crypt so I can high-five him.

Anyway, as lapsed Twins fan, I would go ahead and take this deal and mooch off a small bit of bandwagoning glory. Would it suck to watch? It would. Would other fans be right to shit all over my team’s deathless, hit-free march to a championship? They would. But listen, have you ever cheered for a dull-but-successful team in your life? I bet you have, and I bet you were willing to adopt ANY stance necessary to justify their unsightly play. “A win’s a win!” “We’re not FLASHY like some other teams.” “I guess some people just don’t appreciate good defense!” As a fan, I can structure my takes any way I want to defend my shit team. I’m in the tank. I don’t care how my stupid team wins because I just want them to win, and because I have to delude myself into believing that watching them openly disgrace the game for an entire season was worth the viewing effort. Also, as a historic curiosity, I could see Americans riveted by a team that gets no-hit for 162 straight games and still wins a title.


This year’s tournament was excellent, but plenty of World Cup teams in the past have violated the spirit of things by hanging back on defense and playing for penalty kicks. And we got just through with an NBA season where the Rockets broke the NBA by constantly trying to get fouled behind the three-point line. Did their fans bail? Of course they didn’t. In fact, they sent us hate mail when we dared to complain about their flopping horseshit. You can bend reality to suit your beliefs. Good thing ONLY sports is like that these days!


What’s your approach on a groom’s wedding speech? Should it be serious/“romantic”? Should it be a poor attempt at a comedy set? Or is it ideally some combination of the two?


I did not give a speech at my wedding. I remember giving a very quick toast at the rehearsal dinner, mostly just thanking everyone for coming and telling everyone how much I loved them. I did attempt one joke, though. A contingent of my wife’s relatives came from Canada, and I thanked them for coming all the way from “America Junior” to attend the wedding.

Now, that joke was met with few laughs, because it’s fucking TERRIBLE. Who makes that joke? Sometimes I look back on it and wonder why one of the Canadians didn’t get up and slug me in my stupid face, because I deserved it! Imagine using your days off and travel money to go a wedding and some idiot groom cracks the dumbest, worst possible joke about your home country. I’d be livid. I would fume about it for years! “Oh, the husband? The husband is a real sack of shit.” America 2018 is my karmic payback for making that goddamn joke. Serves my ass right. I feel awful about it to this day.


So don’t be like me. There will already be 9,000 toasts at your wedding, and they’ll all be too long and peppered with jokes made by unfunny people. Thank everyone from the bottom of your heart, thank your family, thank the wife’s family, thank your wife, and then go get loaded. Don’t stand up there and give yourself enough rope to hang yourself with. America Junior. God, what a prick.

Email of the week!

Langdon Aulger:

Back in university I took semester off to go tour some “budget traveller” shithole countries, including a 2-week trek up a popular mountain range circuit in Nepal.

There’s not much vegetation up in the mountains, so the local diet consists almost exclusively of a rice and potato dish called dhal bat, which roughly translates as “food”.

After 9 days of eating this stuff I was ready for something different. Of course I come to this conclusion in a rinky-dink shack of a guesthouse 2 hours from the summit, where anything not-potato has to be carried at least 3 days up the mountain.

Against the advice of my fellow travelers, I order some cream-based pasta dish even though it costs twice as much as the dhal bat. It wasn’t worth the price, and I felt guilty for contributing to making sherpas drag fancy ingredients uphill for a week so whitey can have some variety.

But it was the next morning where I really stared to regret my decision. An hour from the pass, I could tell something wasn’t sitting right in my stomach. At the summit, I was too preoccupied with rumblegut to appreciate the view. Coming down the mountain, I can’t tell if my legs are shaking because my muscles are shot or because I’m fighting so hard to avoid blowing ass.

There is no cover for what I need to do, only desolate barren mountain range in clear view of other trekkers. In a full sweat panic, I start coming to terms with the inevitable and build up the courage to squat by the side of the path in full view of my trekmates; when all of a sudden I see down the hill some small hut that might offer a modicum of privacy.

Asscheeks clenched, I get to the hut and realize there is something off about it. There are no windows. It’s short, like I’m 5'3 and would hit my head getting through the doorway. No time to worry about that, I knock on the door trying to not shit myself while figuring out how I’ll convince whoever lives here to show me to their bathroom. There’s no way this thing has a bathroom, and I start to wonder if it’s even inhabited.

No answer. Fuck it, my bowls are clearing in 30 seconds or less, I might as well try to open the door. It’s not locked! I duck in to see 4 sectioned off rooms, one of then with hay in the corner.

“Is someone here?” Silence. So I shuffle into a dark corner and drop my pants, praying a goat or something doesn’t jump out of nowhere and bite my balls off, and unleash a torrent stream of liquid ass all over this mud hut floor.

The second I’m done I bound the fuck out of there before the mountain man whose hut I defiled shows up and rejoin my party. To this day I have no idea what purpose that hut served.

20 minutes later, a Nepali army patrol comes marching up the mountain. Fearing they somehow know what I just did and are coming to arrest me, I muster a super-nonchalant “namaste” toward the leader.

No time to talk, he says in broken English. Big happenings in America: JFK airport was bombed overnight and 2 million people are dead. Two days later I finally found myself near a television and saw what they were referring to.

Needless to say, I’ll never forget where I was on 9/11.

Okay but you should have just shat on the path.