Have you ever been watching an NBA game or the Olympics and thought to yourself “I wonder what it would like if a normal person was shown competing next to these people? You know, like some regular dude (fine me) who just ate half a Domino's pizza and is about to start clipping their toenails and then suddenly they’re thrown into the game and expected to not even defend LeBron but just, like, keep up with him?” I think sometimes we don’t appreciate these long jumpers, tele skiers, Serena Williams-s of the world—what have you—because they make it all look too easy. We need some perspective. This is also how I feel about cooking.
Example: below is a photograph of the finished polenta I made for my boyfriend last week, while cooking a Real Simple recipe I found called “Pork Chops with Sauteed Apple and Polenta.
And here’s the magazine’s photo of the final meal, below. Our polenta looks somewhat different, right? Just a little? (I’m still unclear on what polenta actually is by the way, but I suppose that’s a different issue entirely.)
Basically, food styling is the death of me. I really think all our lives would be better if a) Donald Trump doesn’t become President and b) every cookbook/blog was forced to update their content to also contain a “real meal prepared by a real person who still isn’t that good at chopping shallots yet and whose boyfriend is better at making the bed then she is” photo. Just to, like, lower our expectations a little. We don’t all need to see the Simone Biles photo of the pork and sauteed apples Real Simple! (Though I suppose the argument that if they ran the photo of my hack-job polenta in the magazine people would probably gag and throw the Real Simple down and vow to never cook again...but still—maybe something halfway?)
Anyhow, I solved the problem of the ruined grain (I think I just bought the wrong kind? Like, it wasn’t instant? Seriously, what is polenta?) by taking a cue from my girl Ina G. and just straight up lying to my boyfriend. You know, that whole “never let them see you sweat!” thing, or whatever. Like, if you’re holding a dinner party and you burn the roast for six people you just say it was planned all along with a “throaty” laugh and then hand everyone a martini and a handful of stale nuts and tell them a pizza is on its way? I feel like I read that somewhere once...but yeah, I just lied to my boyfriend and said we were pulling a Tom and Gisele-like cleanse and eating only meat and vegetables for dinner. (Later, when he saw the left-for-dead polenta floating aimlessly on the stovetop he yelped and asked me “what was I going to do with that thing.”)
Known non-polenta eater
The truth is I do really want to get better at cooking and not ruining recipes. So I recently signed up for Home Chef, aka one of those meal delivery services that send you three meals a week in a box and everything is prepackaged into perfect portions and there are step-by-step guides as to how to prepare everything so you barely have to think about what to make for dinner and can focus solely on how terrified you are of Donald Trump Jr. becoming Secretary of the Treasury. (And no, this is not a #sponsored post for Home Chef, though, believe me, I would LOVE nothing more than to ever have the chance to write #sponsoredcontent for this blog. Like, all I want to do is pose in front of exposed brick somewhere in Beacon Hill while holding a latte and wearing a pair of Chico's chandelier earrings and be like “guys, you should totally shop at Chico's, look at these earrings, they’re such a good transition day-to-night item!” and then get paid seventy-five cents for it.) Alas, I’m just writing about Home Chef because I’m trying it.
And so far, so good! I’ve made two of the first three meals and they’ve both been quite tasty! And I will say it's sort of trippy to find yourself standing in your kitchen stirring a “cajun remoulade” and thinking like, “I would literally never have made a cajun remoulade in my entire life but some Stanford grad realized how lazy I am and just took my money and sent it to me in the mail and now I’m making air-mailed cajun tilapia? Like what?”
There is one major drawback to the service so far, which I will illustrate for you through a conversation I had with my mother on the day the first box of food arrived. She was over, helping me unpack some books. The following unfolded as I began to take the food out of the Home Chef box and put everything away in the fridge:
Mom: “Um….wow, this is a lot of packaging.”
Me: “No it’s not. It’s normal. Think about my carbon footprint of, like, going to the grocery store, and then you buy a huge jar of horseradish sauce you only use once and then you throw it out three years later? And like, who isn’t always finding moldy broccoli in their fridge?”
Silence. The mother continues to inspect the box.
Mom: “No no... this is not….there’s too much foam-look at this!
She proceeds to pull a foam pad the size of a husky toddler out of the cardboard box.
Mom: “This is so much foam!”
Me: “Well, chicken from the supermarket comes in a foam container!
Mom:“Not this MUCH foam!”
The concerned mother continues to reach into the box and pull plastic things out Mary Poppins-style.
Mom: “I mean, what are you going to do with all these ice packs!”
Environment-hater quickly googles “home chef ice packs” and sees that the goo in them is “safe” and that the packs can be cut open and the goo poured down the sink.
Me: “Um, duh I’ll just cut them open and pour the goo down the sink! And I’ll save one to use for when I burn myself cooking! The goo is good for the environment, Mom! Get with the times!”
The daughter cuts the packs open. Soon the bottom of her sink is covered in a sludgy, creepy goo. It feels like the beginning of a sci-movie where the villains are lazy millennials. The mother turns to her daughter.
Mom: “I just...I personally wouldn’t be comfortable getting this every week-”
Me: “MOM PLEASE STOP YOU’RE RUINING MY HOME CHEF HIGH!”
Mom: “Sorry, sorry.”
Then we turned on the tv and watched Sweet Home Alabama, which I haven’t seen in forever, and can I just say, how completely RIDICULOUS is that movie? Poor Reese having such a hard time choosing between two incredibly handsome, rich, nice men, just one is dark-haired and the other is blonde. Decisions, decisions! I did note, however, that this off-the-shoulder top trend that just won’t quit may have begun with this movie?
It's a mystery. Anyhow, I’m making pork medallions tonight. Maybe I’ll post a picture.
Hi! I'm Caroline.