Adventures in Cooking Alone, Part II

Today I obtained 100% of my necessary daily Calories from cookies.

I ate other things, too. Much of what I ate was pretty healthy and well-balanced. But, had I not eaten anything else at all, I still would probably have gotten 2,000 Calories from just the cookies.

Let me just make my point here, so there will be no doubt as we continue: NEVER DO THIS. THIS IS A BAD, BAD THING. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS AT HOME OR ANYWHERE ELSE.

Why did I eat so many cookies? Well, for starters, they were delicious. I mean look at them. Can’t you just hear their siren call? How was I to resist? We in the class all know that what I was actually consuming was positive reinforcement from my brain’s dopamine receptors, but hey, who am I to argue with my basic neurobiological imperatives?

Part of it was also the sheer decadent wrongness of the act. Logan has posted before about the pleasurable guilt (not to be confused with guilty pleasure) that accompanies sheer indulgence in rich, bad for you food, and he’s right.

But really, the main reason I ate over a dozen butter- and sugar-laden cookies in a single sitting was, like Everest, because they were there. I baked cookies, someone had to eat them, and it certainly wasn’t going to be my cats.

This highlights one of the fundamental challenges of our food culture, and one that is never talked about. It is really hard in America to shop and cook in small, single-person quantities. Granted, I can’t think of any culture where it is normal to always cook and eat as an individual; such a culture of introverted bachelors would not really perpetuate itself very well at all. At the same time, it is easier in some places than others. We know from What the World Eats that, in China for example, it is normal to make a trip to the market every day to buy just that day’s groceries. By contrast, here it is more of a once-every-week-or-two kind of a deal. I have to drive about half an hour to find a decent array of produce, so daily shopping trips are just not an option; I have to buy in bulk, and unfortunately I end up throwing a lot of it away. I just can’t eat half a pound of spinach by myself, but that’s the smallest size it comes in.

Some recipes are fairly easy to cut down: I can make french toast or stir fry for one with no problem. Things like chili or cookies, though? Not as easy. Inevitably, I wind up with leftovers, and then I am caught in a choice between eating more than I should of one particular thing, or wasting time, food, and money by cooking something else that I also won’t entirely finish.

I am going grocery shopping tomorrow. I will be buying another half pound of spinach, not all of which I expect to eat. While there, I also plan to note the minimum available quantities for everything I purchase, just to see what I could buy in installments were I lucky enough to hit the market every day.

On Friday, I will attempt to cook a full meal, complete with salad, appetizer, entree, side dishes, and dessert, without leaving any leftovers at all (i.e. only making one serving of each thing). I expect to be profoundly frustrated by the end of it, but I will blog the whole thing.

In the meanwhile, I have some cookies to eat.

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