Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In Which I Think Deborah Madison Is A Bit Pretentious

So last night I finished Deborah Madison's What We Eat When We Eat Alone and I'm not sure quite how I feel about it. I like the premise. The first time I read about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, I was quite taken with the idea that things behave one way under observation and quite another when left to their own devices. And what is true of particles should necessarily be true of us, right? We're macroscopic clusters of particles.

In any case, the premise of this book was to (informally) collect data on what people eat when there's no spouse/child/friend/parent/boss/etc. watching. And I have come to the conclusion that Deborah Madison encounters people very different from myself and the people I know. Here's the thing: I love food. I love cooking. I love fussy, pain-in-the-ass recipes that specify points of origin for vanilla beans. I own a ravioli press. I have strong opinions on bottled lemon juice. I am an unapologetic food snob whose children have never consumed a single solitary Chicken McNugget.


The people in Deborah's book seem to unfailingly eat elaborate, grown-up things when they are alone. Not one of the replies in the 250-ish pages was anything like "I make some toast which I slather with Nutella and bananas and I eat that while roasting marshmallows over the stove. Then I wash all that down with an inch of terrible wine left in the back of the fridge from a chicken recipe. I have three Andes candies to cleanse my palate, then I eat some bison jerky, four saltines, and the last half-cup of eggnog ice cream in the container."

Am I really the only person who does this on occasion? I felt like such an ass reading about some med student making himself "cinnamon-scented quinoa with almonds and pine nuts, chili-and-garlic sauteed chard, all topped with eggs cooked over easy." And you guys! His accompanying rotisserie chicken came from a progressive grocer. I don't even know what the hell that is. I mean, it all sounds awesome. It really does. And I do things like that for myself at times. I guess I was just expecting a little more...I don't know. A PostSecret type confessional for foodies from this, maybe.

When no one is watching, I eat cheese made from the milk of a regular old cow.

I drink wine coolers.

I like that gross pudding from industrial sized cans.

Sometimes I have fantasies about cellophane-wrapped food products that can withstand a nuclear holocaust.

But what can I expect from a woman who is horrified by frozen vegetables?


  1. I've had cheetos for breakfast, but I waited until my husband left for work.

  2. I almost never cook when I am alone, and I LOVE to cook. When I am alone I eat my stash of candy, or toast and jelly, or my kids fruit snacks. But the cinnamon-scented quinoa sounds good!

  3. Let's see: I started this evening's dining experience with a Crunchwrap Supreme (nothing "supreme" about it, I assure you) from Le Taco Belle. I washed it down with a Diet Pepsi. I will probably wait an hour or two to fully savor the joy of that meal, then eat my leftover Dan Dan noodles from 4 days ago. And 2 bites of fudge that I have sequestered in a place that only I know.

    Signed, CornflakeGirl, who thinks cinnamon-scented quinoa sounds lovely but thinks no real med student has time to make it

  4. The nutella banana marshmallow thing is making my mouth water.

  5. Since the spousal unit is traveling, I can tell you that last night I had a quesadilla, made with store bought "Carb balance" Mission tortillas, Kraft sharp cheddar cheese from a pre-shredded package and 2 small pieces of jalapeno. My appetizer previous to said quesadilla was cheddar Goldfish crackers. Dessert was about 10 pecan nuts and a small handful of Toll House chocolate chips. All washed down by 3/4 bottle of Lindemans Chardonnay.

    I agree with Cornflakegirl that previously mentioned medical student is a lying liar who lies, as there is NO WAY a med student would prepare and eat that when he/she was alone.

    I can tell you the rest of my meals while Mr. Blondie is out of town will be something from a box, aka Lean Cuisine, etc.

  6. Oh, bless you all. I am feeling so much more validated.

    And yeah. I say that med student's full of it. When I was a broke-ass student I was not buying progressive chickens. I ate generic ramen and canned soup mixed with frozen peas. Because I was poor and busy.

  7. Last Friday night, the wife and daughter went out to a friend's house. My bachelor night meal of choice? A Trader Joe's fiesta: turkey hot dog on a whole wheat bun with a side of cheddar cheese puffs. Dessert was a few handfuls of tamari-flavored almonds and a Maker's Mark on the rocks.

    When I was in school, dinner was usually mac & cheese or ramen or something awful from the roach coach. I call BS on the med student as well.

  8. What's wrong with frozen vegetables?