I have an appreciation for great food. I also have an appreciation for healthy food. I really do.
But appreciation isn't love. I love gross food.
I remember being about four years old and trying a microwavable cannelloni that my mom was reluctantly eating. The runny ricotta and overcooked pasta melded into a texture I had never experienced in her cooking -- my mom was actually a good cook. But, somehow, it blew my mind in the best possible way. From then on, I was hooked on almost anything processed or otherwise garbage-like.
I also had no regard for meal-time appropriateness. I would beg to have Chef Boyardee Spiderman noodles and meatballs for breakfast. My parents and brother would be disgusted at the thought of it, but I could never quite understand why.
To me, it tasted great. Why should it matter what time of day it is? It tastes the same at 7 AM as it does at 1 PM. And, to tell you the truth, I still don't really get why that kind of a thing is an issue. I think leftover Chinese food for breakfast is about as good as it gets.
As I got older, my gross food horizons began to expand. I went to a public elementary school in a very nice Sugar Land, Texas neighborhood. For the most part, the students came from middle to upper-middle class homes. Very few people ever bought lunch from the cafeteria because it was... you know... gross.
But one day I tried what I believe the school labeled as a "taco roll." It was some sort of tortilla concoction filled with an unidentifiable homogenous brown meat paste. I was very impressed with it.
After that, any time I saw it was on the menu, I would ask my mom to forgo making me a sandwich and give me $1.85 so I could get in the lunch line with the other 15 kids who actually purchased the cafeteria food.
By middle school, I had figured out how to make some gross foods on my own. This is the most horrifying thing I will write about here, and if you're squeamish, I suggest you move on to another article. I can't even believe I'm going to type this out to be read by the general public. It's wildly embarrassing.
But, here we go: I thought saltine crackers were great, but I never liked how dry they were. So, what I would do is chew one saltine very thoroughly, spit it back out onto another saltine, and eat the whole thing like an hors d'oeuvre.
I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I did that, and I'm sorry you had to read about it. But it just wouldn't be honest if I omitted it. I wish I could ask you to withhold judgement until you try it yourself, but you should absolutely NOT try it yourself. It is not possible to judge me too harshly for this.
When I got to college, I began grocery shopping for myself. As you can imagine, I made very unsettling choices. It probably didn't help that I lived significantly closer to a 7-Eleven than I did to a real grocery store.
Immediately, I got hooked on The Bomb burrito.
"Cheese sauce." Not cheese. Cheese sauce. It's like I was playing chicken with my own circulatory system. Oh, also... I didn't microwave it. I preferred it cold.
That wasn't my favorite 7-Eleven food, though. My favorite were the taquitos that rotated metal bars as if they were perpetually engaged in a logrolling competition with each other.
My ability to purchase groceries myself, however, did not hinder my creativity in developing other homemade culinary abominations. I invented a dessert-type dish, that my friend, Joe, called a "Blandcake."
To make a Blandcake, I dumped water and maple syrup into a shallow bowl with pancake mix. I then put it in the microwave for about a minute or so until it had synthesized itself into an amorphous, wet, sponge-cake consistency.
"How stoned were you in college?" You might ask. Very. I was very stoned in college.
After I graduated, the very first job I got was working as a stock boy in the bookstore for the Museum of Modern Art. The job required a great deal of manual labor. I was constantly lifting boxes full of heavy books and carrying them across a cavernous stock room. My metabolism was at an all time high, and I fully took advantage of it.
Once or twice a week, I would go to the sandwich counter at the deli across the street and get a Philly cheese steak which I would then stuff with mayonnaise and Cheetos.
As I've grown older, I've begun to make much better food choices. I largely stay away from prepackaged, processed foods, and I mostly cook at home. I sauté brussels sprouts, steam broccoli, and even have salad for lunch sometimes. I've never been overweight or had any serious health issues, but I've been happy to find that, generally, I feel a lot better when I'm not eating complete crap.
Sometimes, though, if I'm drunk, I'll still stop by a 7-Eleven and grab a taquito. I stand by the taquitos. They are amazing.