“Paul Allen has mistaken me for this dickhead Marcus Halberstram. It seems logical because Marcus also works at P&P and in fact does the same exact thing I do and he also has a penchant for Valentino suits and Oliver Peoples glasses. Marcus and I even go to the same barber, although I have a slightly better haircut.”
– Patrick Bateman
We really don’t know what the significance of this quote is with regard to our topic, but the value of the title metaphor and, in turn, of quoting Patrick Bateman, were simply too good to pass up. We are writing, of course, about what we think is the proper way to approach your brand-new, mouse-ridden, and oddly becrumbed off-campus kitchen. Cooking on a student’s schedule can be hectic and require a lot of forethought; purchasing opportunities — like situations in which it is inappropriate to wear American flag-laden clothing — come few and far between. So it is of the utmost importance that you buy as much fresh produce as possible without necessitating frequent trips to the farmers’ market and without eating the same meal every day. With that in mind, we have cobbled together a humble list of suggestions not unlike the ragtag team of over-the-hill misfits, specialists and Ben Affleck that save the Earth in Michael Bay’s classic Armageddon.
Things you can buy without any planned uses in the near future: Onions, garlic and shallots top this illustrious list, as they can sit on a countertop (for God’s sake keep them out of the fridge unless you’ve cut them open) for weeks without any noticeable decay, and chances are you’ll need at least one of these three houses of our tricameral flavor parliament in any serious recipe you pursue. Potatoes (especially sweet potatoes, which are infinitely more nutritious than white, gold or red) also last forever, which goes nicely with their ridiculous cheapness and innumerable uses — such as baking, frying, thickening soups, savory tarts and foreplay. In fact, we don’t see any reason to buy any potato that isn’t orange or gold, as most other varieties pale in comparison. Citrus fruits, which always have a creepy-long shelf life, can serve any purpose from highlighting cakes to fixing drinks to fending off scurvy. Carrots, celery, leeks, fennel, and corn also fit into this category, though to varying degrees. You can also create your own shelf-life by, for instance, buying unripe bananas or avocados and storing half of them in a paper bag to nurture the ripening process while leaving the other half so they — like those of us still counting chest hairs every morning when we wake up — bloom a little later.
Things you can buy that will go bad, but have a lot of uses: Bell peppers top this list, as they fit into just about every cuisine and are equally good raw and cooked. Try buying some yellows, oranges and reds to sprinkle like Technicolor fairy dust in salads, sauces, and rice dishes. Cabbage may be the Colmes in this duo of vegetable punditry, but it is nonetheless useful in many cuisines and in many forms. Asparagus, zucchini, eggplant and summer squash also work, and along with peppers are easily preserved via pan-roasting: place any of these, sliced, in a hot pan without oil and essentially char them; top with any sauce on hand or just oil and garlic and keep in a Tupperware container in the fridge for an added week or so.
Meats, dairy, cheeses: You should have a definite plan to cook any meat you buy within a week of purchase or be prepared, in the words of Mr Freeze, to “chill” it in the freezer. With yogurt, milk and cheese, you have a bros before hoes-like social responsibility to taste- or smell-test things before you dispose of them. Consider making a list of these items that are in your fridge so as not to waste them. Or, you may risk succumbing in Gulliver-like fashion to the unknown civilizations growing in the back of your fridge.
Doing our best to keep Brown atop GQ’s douchey list for 2010,
Alex and Ted