Whenever conversation turned to food during those early days when we were working together and getting to know each other, I’d usually eaten one of the following for supper the night before: spaghetti with jarred marinara sauce, rice with veggies, or peanut butter and jelly toast. My diet all through college and the years immediately following graduation consisted of meals that could be made in 15 minutes or less and generated as few dishes as possible.
While I’m still no gourmet, I was a decent cook and baker by the time I embarked for college. But given the choice of whipping up a pan of spinach lasagna or ordering Chinese takeout and heading out to the movies, I’d always choose the latter. There was just too much going on in those days of experimental adulthood to crank out culinary achievements more advanced than chocolate chip cookies on semi-regular basis.
I got to thinking about the phenomena of “bachelor food” yesterday, as I cranked out an old bachelor food standby for lunch: an egg sandwich with bacon and ketchup on toast. While I love me a good egg sandwich, when I sit down each week to figure out a tentative weekly dinner menu so I know what to buy at the grocery store, I have never once written “egg sandwiches” down as a menu item. No one ever plans to make an egg sandwich. It’s one of those things you eat when no one else is around.
I once read a newspaper column in which the author professed meals he ate while his wife was out of town consisted of unheated Pop-Tarts and a glass of tepid water. And remember in Sex and the City when Miranda managed to eat almost an entire 9x13” chocolate cake in a single evening? Left to our own devices, there’s no knowing what we might consider a “decent meal.” No wonder we’ve all been trained to be afraid of singlehood!
Does a relationship really prompt us to eat better? Everyone seems to expect newly married men to gain a few pounds in that first year of marriage. And nothing quite wilts the egg sandwich’s appeal than eating it as a meal in company.
When someone else is around, it seems we clean up our act. We add meatballs to the marinara sauce. The rice and steamed veggies turn into a Thai-inspired stir fry. We don’t mind how the dishes stack up because there’s always someone to
But as soon as I’m left alone for a night? Heck yes, I’m having a big bowl of pasta tossed with parmesan cheese and butter for supper. That’s right. Not even an accompanying salad or vegetable.
Maybe none of us are as far removed from our cavemen ancestors as we might like to think.