The best meal I’ve ever had was cooked by my downstairs neighbor in the apartment complex I lived in. The guy knew one thing and that was how to cook meat. He took some out of the foil and put it on the small grill he had alight and squeezed half a lime over it, then poured a quarter of his beer on it. The beer sizzled on the coals and he started humming along to the Led Zeppelin tape he was playing.
He was a heavy set man with wide feral eyes and male pattern baldness that he’d shaved down into a stubble. His fingers were stubby and wide, but Lord knows they could cook meat. He ripped off a quarter loaf of french bread and handed it to me and handed me a cigarette, though I’d never told him I smoked – I imagine he just guessed it. He lit his then lit mine.
I’ve had extremely simple meals before, but not like this one. The difference was is that this guy worked in one of the high end restaurants downtown and this was restaurant quality meat he was using. But the way he was cooking it, on a grill not much wider than your average pizza box, and with Tecate beer and hand-squeezing limes onto it… it was the simplest way you could have done it. But what made it so good? It was because it was literally the most “bro” way to eat: it was two guys eating meat as messy as two pigs at the trough. It didn’t hurt this was probably steak that I’d pay $40 at a restaurant for. Needless to say, my girlfriend at the time refused to eat with us. Simply because, I think, it
A few years later I was on a date with another girl. I sat there with a pretty girl at Roscoes Chicken & Waffles, a restaurant next to a strip mall in a not so friendly part of Hollywood. It was a date, and it was something I’d never really thought about doing before – taking the girl to a restaurant that served, well, chicken and – you guessed it – waffles.
Why had I not thought of this before? I loved chicken and waffles, and taco trucks, and hot dogs. Honestly, I could live off of that sort of food. The chicken that they’re serving at The Ivy (a star-studded little restaurant here in LA) for $30 isn’t a whole lot different from the chicken that I’m getting in my burrito from the Mexican place down the street from me for $4. In fact, I’d garner a vote saying that they cook the food better at the little Mexican joint. But if you told that the girl, 9 times out of 10 she wouldn’t agree. She’d take The Ivy over El Cid Tacos & Burritos any day, regardless of the price, simply because… well, you can’t take a girl to a divey place. It’s a male / female thing. And I’m making a generalization. Of course, there are some girls that like nothing better than going to divey hole in the wall places to try new things. But I’m wondering why you can’t take a girl out to eat a hot dog or a sloppy joe, but you’re SUPPOSED to take a girl out to a fancy place.
For instance, there’s a restaurant not too far from where I live called Oinkster. It serves a lot of pork related products and is pretty well known for its messy pastrami sandwiches. It’s often been a deal breaker sort of place: if I take a girl there and she’s totally into making a mess, then she’s fine by me. If she isn’t, then you learn that she’s not down to have a good time and get her hands dirty. It speaks volumes about a girl when she can chow down with the rest of us. But the amount of girls that are squeamish about getting pork grease on their hands vastly outnumber the number of girls that would rather eat at Oinkster over, persay, the overpriced French restaurant down the street. The more ‘feminine’ foods are far more a work of presentation and atmosphere than the actual food itself.
‘Masculine’ food like pastrami sandwiches, hot dogs with all the ridiculous toppings, and spicy hot wings, all serve the purpose of an active food engagement with the consumer. It’s meant to be a spectacle that you partake in: nobody looks good shoving a Chicago hot dog in their mouths, yet if you don’t end up mustard on your face and the poppy seeds in your teeth you’ve effectively failed at eating one.
But why is this? What makes food for dudes exactly that? Is it the social aspect, the fact that you don’t care about how you look eating it?
More to come in Food For Dudes: Part 2.
(Photo By: Dos 82)