We all know her.
She shotguns slices of pizza with an unmatched fearlessness. She isn’t afraid to ask the cashier what time the old doughnuts get thrown away. She uses her oven for one thing: warming up her jeans. She is driven by her love of sugar, fat, and efficiency. She is the food-loving anti-foodie.
She is 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon.
She is also, unfortunately, me.
Look, I know this sounds like a humblebrag. Underneath all that self-deprecation is an undeniably cool lady. Lemon writes a TV show, dates men who look like Jon Hamm, and is creative, hardworking, and side-achingly funny. Her, er, crumbier (high-fiving a million angels) shortcomings—the kind that cause her night terrors about giving birth to the knock-off Hot Pocket mascot—are what really inspire my begrudgingly felt camaraderie.
And I’m not messing around. I consider two-step microwavable dinners to be labor-intensive. My oven gets most of its exercise reheating frozen DiGiorno. My breakfast of choice is a cookie. (Health points if there’s oatmeal in it.) If I had to guess, I would say that julienning is an old-timey dance move.
But with a birthday just around the corner, my college graduation nearly a year past, and my impending mortality looming over me like a shadowy cloud of Fluffy Stuff, it’s time to start doing adult things like using silverware, cooking things in pots, and putting a little more thought into what goes into my mortal bod.
But before I completely write off Lemon as my sister in saccharine solidarity, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on some key lessons she’s taught me that I will be taking with me on my food journey. In the words of 30 Rock’s Dr. Spaceman, science is whatever we want it to be, so there’s no reason to take all this health stuff too seriously.
Your ideal lunch makes for perfectly acceptable wall art.
- Working on your night cheese isn’t really work.
- Sandwich turtles are an integral part of every fantasy vacation.
- Ham is the food of superstars.
- Cupcake + cupcake = cupcake sandwich
- Use your intuition to determine in which recipes you can replace water with cheese.
- If you’re at the bar and already have a drink, you might want to ask your suitor for some complimentary mozzarella sticks. Don’t.
- Cure for the common day: a nooner
- Romance schmomance. “Lover” belongs between the words “meat” and “pizza.”
- All anyone really wants in this life is to sit in peace and eat a sandwich.
If you also cringe in recognition at Liz Lemon’s eating habits, these cookbooks will inspire you to get in the kitchen:
The I Hate To Cook Book: 50th Anniversary Edition (Grand Central) by Peg Bracken
The Holy Grail of cooking advice for people who want to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible. Bracken wrote this book 50 years ago when women were expected to crank out home-cooked meals like their lives depended on it, and although the cooking landscape has changed dramatically since the book’s first release, the allure of cutting corners in the kitchen is timeless.
How to Cook Everything (Completely Revised Tenth Anniversary Edition) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Mark Bittman
Despite its status as a staple among big-name chefs like Mario Batali and Bobby Flay, this cookbook is perfect for the lazy beginner chef. It’s packed with 2,000 recipes that require no fancy techniques, ingredients, or equipment.
Starting with Ingredients (Running Press) by Aliza Green
Knowing you need to eat your fruits and vegetables is the first step. Knowing how to eat them is the second step, third step, fourth step, and so on. Green makes it easy for you by telling you how to select, store, and cook with just about every produce item you can find at the grocery store.
So pop in a 30 Rock DVD (or five) tonight and make something real to eat. It’s OK if a key ingredient is cheese.