Mike Brown: The Joys of Cooking
I spent a brief period of my work career in the trenches of a restaurant kitchen—not cooking, of course, as you will learn that I suck tremendously at morphing ingredients into edible contents. It was mostly running dirty dishes past the chefs, all while candidly noticing their idiosyncrasies and routines, hoping that their skills would somehow rub off on me and my own home kitchen.
Alas, I basically only learned one thing from these experiences—that there are only two kinds of cooks in the kitchen: the happy chef and the angry chef. There’s really no in-between in the culinary world as far as I can tell. Although I’ve only worked in a handful of restaurants in my life, each one was properly staffed with at least one happy chef and one angry chef, balancing out the universe in a karma-appropriate, fucked-up way.
Angry chef has recently been epitomized in pop culture by that red-faced British guy from Hell’s Kitchen. Although the show airs on Fox, it is quite an accurate depiction of a head chef who doesn’t get enough head or toss enough salads—a chef who takes out every frustration he has on his staff and his food, all the while chugging cooking wine behind the manager’s back just to deal with his own stress mess. He makes all the other employees concerned that he has access to so many large knives.
I relate more to the happy chef—always stoned, blowing hits up the stove vent, never mixing up the oregano with his personal stash. He relishes the fact that his munchies can always be instantly cured on the clock. He never stresses beneath the heat radiating from the ovens or the endless amounts of ticket orders buzzing out between his cutting board and brain-dead food runner.
I’ve tried to transfer this positive mentality into my own kitchen. Unfortunately, though, there are many reasons why, quite frankly, I just can’t cook for myself. I’ve somehow sustained my immune system with nutrients fully found at any 7-Eleven. It’s amazing how you can live as long as I have and keep such a girlish figure mostly off of nachos, cigarettes and stale, burnt coffee.
I mostly attribute these eating habits to my Mormon upbringing. Men weren’t really allowed past the microwave in the kitchen in my house, except to occasionally climb Mount Dishmore when the women who had just baked our funeral potatoes were too baked on prescription drugs and Diet Cokes to finish the task of feeding us.
Somehow, this has led me to my current cooking habits, which basically involve not cooking at all. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I suck at cooking, that I’ll never be able to woo a princess with a home-cooked meal I made and a fancy bottle of wine. I’m OK with this because I suck at a lot of things. The only way I’m warming a woman’s heart in the kitchen is going to be with an accidental kitchen fire.
Instead, I’ve become quite adept to having other people cook for me. Learning how to stroke the ego of the roommate who likes to cook will get you a free meal more often than not—a simple yet effective life hack. The only real drawback from this tactic is not always choosing what you get to eat, but it’s better than dressing up as a homeless guy just so you can stand in a food line.
Another free-meal tactic I’ve relied upon as of late has to do with taking advantage of my married friends. I’ve lost many a good hangout sesh and bro night due to the awful curse of marriage, but I have gained one positive from the terrible tragedy of holy matrimony. Married people love to cook dinner together for some reason, and it’s pretty easy to invite yourself over and prey upon their desire to feed their weird, lonely, single friend—aka me. Stroking the ego of the cooker is still important if you want dessert.
Since we live in a digital age with computers in our pockets and the Interwebs available at all time, I should let you all know about my newfound affinity for 2Lazy4Food. Too hungover to leave the couch? Too stupid to read a recipe? Or as the title aptly states it, just too fucking lazy? These guys are your go-to for feeding yourself.
Basically, you pay them extra to bring you food to wherever you are from wherever you want. God, like six years ago, this whole concept was still science fiction. And if you are really nice to the drivers and tip well, they’ll stop by the liquor store for you. Hell, I’ve even had them go the extra mile and stop by the 7-Eleven for tampons and cigarettes—although not edible, still some of life’s little necessities.
After writing this, I’ve realized something about myself. I’ve most likely put more energy in my lifetime into figuring out ways to not cook for myself than into actually learning how to cook, which sounds kind of pathetic, but oh well. As the old saying goes, a man’s gotta eat.