Monday, September 12, 2011

Mmmm...Good Cracker!

There are many advantages to being a guy that are overlooked.  The reason for this is because they are not earth-shattering, argument-starting things, like the Glass Ceiling, or being able to go to the bathroom, anywhere, anytime. There are a lot of simple pleasures that most men themselves take for granted. Things like the slapstick comedy gene that allows us to laugh riotously at
someone getting hit in the head with a wooden plank, no matter how many times we see it.  Or being able to get ready for work in ten minutes, from shower to clothes, and still have time to eat a pop-tart.  And the thing that is perhaps the most important advantage to men (I know it’s saved my life more than once), the concept of Man-Food.

Now, I have been explaining the joy that is Man-Food to many of you for years now, only to have you all stare at me blankly.  This is because I have not really given you the official definition of Man-Food.  So, for those of you out there who have lost some of your manliness (or never had any of it to begin with), or perhaps to refresh some of you out there who have forsaken Man-Food for the finer comforts, I will break it all down for you.

Man-Food is the ability to make food out of nothingness.  This rudimentary knowledge is passed down from father to son through the Y chromosome (sorry, ladies) and activates itself during puberty, along with the voice change and the dropping of the stones. This is the truth.  All men can do this bit of culinary prestidigitation, instinctively.  Think about it, guys.  Who among us hasn’t at one time or another opened up two cans of something, dumped them into a saucepan, added ketchup and mustard, toasted some bread, and made dinner?  This is a skill that can transcend itself and become an art.  Learn this well enough and you can impress a date with your culinary MacGuyvers.  

Now, I know what the women must be shouting right now, and you are wrong.  I have no doubt that as some point, you have done, did, or even still do, the same thing I just described.  But trust me on this: you aren’t born with this gene.  This is a skill that can be learned, certainly, and you probably picked it up from watching your father or big brother or roommate or boyfriend.  But you must have seen it from somewhere first.   Men are never shown this skill. It dawns upon us, like an awakening.  We just...suddenly do it. I have been communing in the kitchen for days now, to try an isolate some of the fundamental points that we as men process automatically.  I think I have covered most of them.  If I left any out, please let me know.  

1.  Any three things between two pieces of bread is a sandwich.  Doesn’t matter what the meat is, or if there is vegetables or not, if you can slap bread around it, it’s Man-Food.
2. Any three things inside a tortilla is a burrito. Again, those three things can be Chili, Cheese, and French fries. If it can be rolled up, it’s legal Man-Food. These two rules explain the Zen of Man-Food: put as many of the four food groups together in one neat package that you can hold in one hand. 

3. Anything over rice is a legitimate meal.  Anything. Green beans, peanut butter, straight picante sauce. It's all good.

4. Ketchup is a base, a seasoning, and a thickening agent.  It can, and probably should, go with anything.

5. Man-Food should not take more than fifteen minutes to make. If the directions on a box call for twenty minutes, then turn up the heat and stir frequently. 

6. All Man-Food should ostensibly be made in a single cooking dish. A separate cooking sheet (for biscuits) is acceptable. The corollary to this one is: no more than two utensils can be dirtied in the process of cooking. The fork you stir with should be the fork you eat with. A dirty knife is okay if you have to cut something.

7. Meat is meat, and can be subbed out indiscriminately. Fish can be bologna, turkey can be tuna, and beef can be hotdogs.

8. Ready-made dips, salsas,  sauces, and soups should be used whenever possible. They all contain chopped up vegetables and seasonings that made your job as a cooking man so much easier. For example, why chop up potatoes, carrots, and celery, when you can buy one can of Chunky’s soup and get it ready to go? Heat up, pour over biscuits, and eat. Meat, vegetables, bread. Three out of four food groups, right there. Time to make: 5 minutes.

9. Microwavable food is God’s gift to man. These delicious, nutritious foods like microwavable burritos, corny dogs, and one of my personal favorites, bagel dogs, are the perfect starting point to Man-Food Masterpieces. Nuke two corn dogs, cut into disc shapes with those shears used to de-bone a chicken, dump into heated chili, serve with melted cheese on top and a squirt of ketchup and mustard. Time to make: 7 ½ minutes.

10. There is nothing that you cannot add to Ramen noodles that will not turn it into a substantive meal. Anything is fair game: rice, egg, torn-up pieces of bagel, spaghetti sauce, crackers, you name it. I once lived for two weeks on Ramen, toast, cheese, a package of bologna, some ketchup, and a jar of dill relish.

If you all out there think I have omitted a rule or two, send it my way. Also, send me your best Man-Food recipes, as I am compiling a small cookbook. All contributors will get a copy of the book. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go make dinner. Let’s see, I’ve got two eggs, some pastrami, a smigeon of cheese, ketchup, leftover french fries, and barbecue sauce…hell, that sounds like an omelet…
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