mercoledì 15 febbraio 2012

A dinner in america

Fact: the average time an american citizen uses to cook dinner is 5'12" (again, I'm making these facts up), a time the average italian needs just to simply decide what to eat.

Last Sunday while shopping for groceries I had a sudden realization, an epiphany I'd say: for one night I really didn't want to cook. Don't get me wrong, I'm what the americans call a total foodie and usually cook for so much time one of my exes once told me I would've been way more productive if I just ordered a few more pizzas every month instead of spending an hour and a half every time I had to sit down and eat. But I digress, let's go back to the story. Usually when I feel lazy I go eat a burger or order a pizza, but being in a grocery store inspired me and made me decide to have one of those authentic american experiences I came here in this wonderful country to have (well that and a couple things I have to do for my Phd). Since I usually nail these kinds of things, here's how to do it if you want to do the same.

step #1: pick two or more easy-to-cook foods at random

Safeway branded foods are actually not that bad, but they tend to look healthier than others so feel free to chose a different brand for a more genuine experience

It is extremely important that the combination of foods you decide to eat makes no sense at all, so for instance I couldn't choose french fries with the chicken wings, too good a match, or to make another example frozen vegetables would not have been a good choice with something like cordon bleu or any kind of beef or pork. The feeling you must have from what you're eating is of absolute freedom, if in America the elderly can go around wearing baseball hats with no one judging them well then I want to feel free to eat pea soup while drinking milkshake (don't laugh, it happened to me to have that combo offered and I was less embarrassed when they offered me cocaine in a strip club - long story I can't tell, anyway I didn't accepted it). As you can see in the picture I picked Honey BBQ glazed chicken wings and Mac&cheese, which I'm still fascinated to how they became a side dish here in the US (but more on that later).

step#2: maccaroni and cheese doesn't contain actual maccaroni

You can't see it in the picture but at this point I was waving my arms and saying "Oh come on, man!" (impressive how I took a non blurry photo)

This will be a pointless complaint on my side but one I have to make: why it is borderline impossible to find "fusilli" here in the US (a particular shape of pasta, I found something vaguely similar sometimes under the name of "torcini") and then when I buy MACCARONI I find small versions of them in the box? I thought you were just misspelling the maccheroni shape of pasta and instead you where hiding them from me, you punks. Anyway, I guess maccheroni can stand for generic "pasta", but you're messed up, americans, you're messed up. Ah and sometimes you simply get some names wrong, like "mustaccioli" for example: those are "penne" my dear friends. Enough with the rant now, so after complaining a little with my imaginary friend (my roommate was in Amsterdam for vacation) I just cooked half the pasta (the rest is in store for the first time I want to do a minestrone) and then added the magic mix, some butter and milk: the result is some kind of really reallly cheesy pasta, and my guess would be cheddar. Not bad for a 5 minutes work, even though the consistence of that cheese reminds a lot of candle wax.

step#3: you better grease it up

I know I know, six wings all for you? but I swear they were soooo little (and soooo tasty)

Those delicious little babies are chicken wings, weirdly little considering how big farm animals usually are here in the US (well judging from the ridiculous amount of fat on bacon strips anyway) and covered in BBQ sauce and honey, yes my italian friends, honey: it's a WONDERFUL idea and I really don't understand why we don't use it when we barbecue, but then again a friend of mine used to compare me to a bear because of my lust for honey (and honey is on my "do not buy" list with oreos and chocolate, foods it's useless for me to buy because they last approximately the time it takes for me to get back home with the groceries from the store) so maybe it's just me. A word of advice: don't just put the wings on that cooking paper that's supposed to be especially designed to put things in the oven, they will stick to it and you will lose a significant amount of chicken skin (true story). Use some butter, I've heard there's also some kind of crazy spray that's not butter but works like it if for some reasons I won't question you want to die of cancer, grease it up and the wings will probably taste even better. And trust me, even without butter they tasted delicious, and they were ready in ca 16' (but I basically didn't have to do any work).

step#4: eat, pray (not to have a stroke), love

Look at it,  just look at it for God's sake! it doesn't make sense (pasta and meat lol) but I promise you won't mind

That's the result, almost no effort and very little time for a dinner that will make you feel 100% american, it costs significantly more than cooking raw ingredients and it doesn't tastes nearly as good but hey, do we want the terrorists to win? I don't.

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