Alibi V.28 No.14 • April 4-10, 2019 

Know Your Ingredients

The Internet Idiot’s Cooking Guide

Quit sharing your garbage meals on social media

In a way, doesn’t a dumpster loom over us all?
In a way, doesn’t a dumpster loom over us all?
Courtney Foster / cc

We’ve all seen someone share on Facebook a “cooking video they’re saving for later” and thought “well, that’s absolutely vile. They want to feed that to their loved ones?” What’s more, this video of trash in a pot has somehow accumulated millions of views, and people are going wild for it. Have we lost touch with adventures in taste, or is everyone else just wrong? (Don’t feel alone; it turns out you’re not crazy.) Gluttons for punishing food seem to be on the rise, and we’re giving you a guide to it all.

I’ll start with a fairly innocuous video, that was just someone throwing down a layer of cheese in a sauté pan, then making three sections covered in peas, ham and corn. That’s it, the whole recipe right there. Referred to as “The Easy Pizza” somehow they made this video last over two minutes long. I’ll skip the obvious list of reasons why that is neither easy nor a pizza. What I can say is that burnt cheese getting scraped off my good pan is not how I want to spend 10 minutes after eating that sin against God and jump into the meat of it. These are what I like to call “Eff it, why not?” recipes, where they had the means to try it and went for the gold. This video had amassed near three million views at the time, with tens of thousands of shares. In what world is this something anyone would feel the need to spread? It’s not so much a recipe as it is a crash course in ruining a loved one’s day, because if I was given this for dinner, I would abandon that person. The one saving grace to this story is that on this video, there was some dissent in the comments discussing the necessity of two minutes for something as brainless as “cheese and other stuff in a pan over medium heat for a while.”

Then we have what have become known as “Depression Meals.” Not necessarily named after depression as an illness, but for the styles of meals eaten during the Great Depression; the idea is to use what you have to make something. This shouldn’t be confused with “depressing meals” which are simple, thrown-together easy foods like oven pizza, ramen, peanut butter and jelly or all three on a night of heavy drinking and next morning regrets. One fine example of a depression meal is gnocchi in A.1. steak sauce, with salt and butter. Is it edible? By the legal definition of the word, yes. Is it worth it? That’s a discussion between you and your deity of choice. Essentially, you can create these meals with literally anything you can find around the house, throwing it together and hoping it’s enough to stave off the cold embrace of death, rather than rush it towards you faster than before.

Finally we have something that has yet to gain a proper English name, but is referred as “punibile dalla morte.” These are heinous reimaginings of time treasured recipes, given a modern spin in some capacity that not only destroys the integrity of the dish, but also of your entire family’s bloodline. The main reference I have for one of these culinary disasters is from Tasty, who presented the world with a One-Pot Creamy Chicken Bacon Pesto Pasta, which sounds amazing on the surface. Everything is going fine and normal, with the chicken and bacon getting cooked nicely, onions and spinach tossed in to cook down, and then these fools, biting their thumbs at the heavens, boil pasta in five cups of milk. I am the grandson of two Italian immigrants, and my grandmother still makes her pasta and sauce by hand for any large family gathering. I have no proof I am her favorite grandchild, but I know for a fact that if I ever made this kitchen disaster, I would be so thoroughly out of the running for the title that there would never be any chance of me salvaging it.

So we’re left wondering why? Has creativity run dry to the point that we toss any sense of tradition out the window? We live in an era where we no longer need to rely on old family recipes to get us through to the next interesting meal. We have a wealth of information on the internet to guide our hands in the kitchen to create something extraordinary and cool, yet we’re surrounded by things that barely pass for edible in our social media feeds. The good news is that, you can search out people carrying on the tradition of killer cooking with very little effort (Pinterest salad jars aside).

· Sam the Cooking Guy – Sam does some truly cool things with food, and most of them are easily done at home. His Youtube channel has over 600 thousand subscribers, is shot in glorious 4K, and tends to be inventive without throwing too much weirdness in. What’s best is that he’s relatable. Nothing he makes is an over-the-top masterpiece; it’s more an everyman’s meal that you can throw together with a little effort and love.

· Binging With Babish – If you’re in any kind of a nerd circle, you’ve heard of this guy. He takes famous foods from works of fiction, from literature to games, and makes an earnest effort to create something good out of it. We’ve all seen that one amazing food from a show and wanted to try it, and he creates complex but manageable ways to make them. On top of that, the food is gorgeous and an absolute pleasure to look at.

· Tasty – We know, we know, we ripped on them earlier but hear us out: Tasty usually has a good idea of what they’re doing. A few missteps are allowed when you have 13 million subscribers and release daily videos. From straightforward videos on how to make damn near anything you can think of in multiple different ways to some of Tasty’s more fact based videos on how to prepare certain foods based on their quality, or just learning the history behind your favorite foodstuff, there is a massive wealth of knowledge hidden within this channel just waiting to be tapped.

Much like a car accident, it’s hard to look away from food disasters on the internet. Many of us pride ourselves on our cooking and for good reason. Don’t let this article deter you from experimenting, as progress requires trying new things. But for the good of those around you, take the time to learn what you’re doing before jumping into something hog wild and crazy. Those sitting down to eat with you will definitely appreciate it.