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Jenneth LeeD

United States

Dyslexic who wants to make a mark in the YA book market. Christian. Conservative. Licensed geek and nerd. too old to continue accessing this site. If you want to keep up with me:

Every Man for Himself Dinner

December 15, 2015

"Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, we are introducing a new genre of food. It's called 'Every Man for Himself' style. It's easy to make, too. Just pull it out of the fridge, rip open the box, or microwave until sizzling. Tonight's dish is called 'Microwaved Chuy's Burrito with Three Spoonfuls of Expired Sour Cream.' Mm Mm good." Such was my Facebook status this year, January 7th. As one may be able to guess, cooking is a skill our family severely lacks. Because of our pathetic abilities of creating up-to-par meals, our family has learned life-saving survival skills, mastered food life-hacks, and we thoroughly enjoy camp and cafeteria food.

Food snobs hate us. The mere idea of boxed potato spuds and canned tomatoes! "How do you eat?" they ask. For some reason, they can't comprehend the blissful taste of cold, day-old pizza, or the mouth-watering goodness of microwaved Ramen noodles. Instead, their delicate digestive system requires garden-grown vegetables, organic lemonade, and homemade lasagna. But let me say this: while these food fanatics and health nuts struggle through high school, summer camp, and eventually college food lines, their piously healthy little stomachs will shrivel and die as our family—with our abdomens of steel—rise victoriously to the glorious top. We will be the survivors. During my short time on this blessed earth, I and my family have learned true survival skills.

Imagine it is the year 1999. The month of December is quickly coming to a close. It is the eve of the dreaded Y2K—the day where the world sat with baited breath, clutching canned beans and spam to their chests, praying the coming year of 2000 wouldn't crash the world of electronics. Assuming the world's computers did spaz out over the double zeros of that year, what would the healthies be without their fresh grocery products? Nothing. However, our family would survive—thrive, even—on canned goods, cereal, Campbell's soup, tuna, and melted popsicles from the pantry.

But survival skills aren't the only upside to our irregular food habits. Through carefully-planned laziness and lack of creative energy dedicated solely to original meals, we've learned valuable life-hacks: some good, some bad. For example, this past year I learned how very important it is to distrust Google's food tips. The internet may say you can successfully make grilled cheese in a toaster, but...

You can't.

I had successfully tipped over the toaster on its side, accurately following the helpful internet's simple instructions. After all, it would be ridiculous to keep the toaster right-side-up, because then the cheese would fall inside and make a mess. Once I had it on its side, I carefully inserted the bread into the slots and pressed the toaster button. I couldn't believe my luck! This was so much easier than pulling out a skillet, turning on the stove, and watching the bread grill the bottoms didn’t burn—the toaster did it all for me!

It was only after the toaster began to smoke did I suspect something was wrong. Google said nothing about black clouds wafting from the bottom of the appliance and filling the kitchen. For fear that I might just burn down the house, I ejected the toast and righted the toaster. What fell out onto my plate was a very emotional sight: half the bread was coal black. The other half was untouched. However, I refused to be daunted. Instead I bravely took that plate to my seat and dug in.

The sandwich was so soggy it felt like I'd dropped it in our pond. Disappointed in the internet that had failed me, I grudgingly submitted to tradition. Out came the skillet, on went the stove. But within a matter of moments the kitchen reeked again because a stray piece of food was stuck on the bottom of the skillet.

However, not all my life hacks end in a possible Chicago Fire. Back in elementary, my mom introduced me to the greatest kitchen trick of the century: liquid brownies. Again tirelessly using my refined skills of laziness, I merely take the box of brownie mix, and instead of adding eggs, milk, flour...or whatever you put in brownie mix...I merely pour hot water in and mix it, creating a chocolate sludge with a consistency resembling fresh-laid asphalt. Devine.

Above all, my siblings and I have learned to love camp and cafeteria food. A friend and I once got on the subject of the cafeteria food at my school—she hated it, challenging its claim to be "real food." I on the other hand told her my opinion of the delicious meal selections in the food line: that (although my mom tries) the food at the Four Winds dining hall was better than what I eat at home. After describing the culture of our kitchen (I've only made REAL mashed potatoes a total of twice in my remembered history), I was pretty sure she was going to fall over. "I'm so confused!" she moaned, completely flummoxed. "How do you even do dessert?" It probably was a good idea I didn't tell her I've happily been eating raw cookie dough for the past eight years of my life and honestly don't remember the last time I made cookies with it.

Yet somehow, with our unorthodox survival skills, life-hacks, and admiration of camp and cafeteria food, my family has managed to stay overall healthy and at average weight. We may live on processed meats and GM vegetables, but we aren't the ones checking in sick, and neither me nor my siblings have ever had food poisoning from home. For unknown reasons, our family has managed to survive—and thrive—in this unusual food habit, and I never plan to give up my refrigerated cookie dough or my day-old pizza.
Disclaimer: It's really not as bad as it sounds. Often for family dinners we WILL have a healthier meal with foods that haven't been sitting in the cubbord for two weeks. I'm not sure if that's still up to par with some health-nut standards, though.


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