Recently, New York Magazine’s Grub Street reached out and asked if I’d be a weekly subject in their New York Diet series, where someone who lives in New York keeps a diary of every single thing they eat over an ordinary particular six-day period. I accepted the challenge and kept a diary from Thursday 6/9 through Tuesday 6/14. Here’s how things went:
Thursday, June 9
Every day I have my house manager, Hershey, wake me up with a hot washcloth for my face, a leg rub, and a plate of toast soldiers. Then someone always gets chicken potpie and potato salad from D.D., you know, Dean & Deluca. If I can’t afford D.D., I just don’t eat. One thing from living next to Paris Hilton in L.A. … she always had a fresh cake in her house. So I make sure someone gets a full, fresh new one every day, like marzipan. My house manager tries to put it in the fridge, but I don’t like refrigeration. I know, so Portlandia of me. But I’m sorry, I’m from Portland!
Oh wait shit that’s Courtney Love’s life not mine.
I started my day with a banana and a granola bar from Starbucks.
That Starbucks is in Ipswich, Massachusetts, where I woke up on the last day of an exhausting six-day, three-state trip with a 2:30pm talk looming ahead of me. This talk required a bunch more prep than usual, because it was on a topic I had never done before, so I prepped in bed until 1:30 and headed out. I realized that I hadn’t eaten anything yet that day, and I knew that I’d be a super weird-acting person during the talk if I were on an empty stomach at 3pm, so I zipped into Starbucks for a coffee and the above items and pushed them into my face as I shuffled my way to the talk.
The next eating event took place in South Station in Boston while I waited to catch my train back to New York. I was starving because I had eaten almost nothing all day, and I had some time, so I sat down in a Mexican restaurant called Tavitas. I was craving hard tacos, and of course, they didn’t have any, because Mexican restaurants hate happiness and never have hard tacos. Just when I was about to settle for soft tacos, I noticed an entrée called “Walking Tacos” with the following description:
West Coast-style served in a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, topped with spicy slaw, tres quesos, crema, and your choice from our house flavors and salsas
Huh? I ordered it.
Then it came and turned out to actually be a meal inside a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. Given the menu description, I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was.
I got back to my apartment at 11pm, re-hungry, and I had been eating non-satisfying quick things all week, so it was time for an old-fashioned Dark Late-Night Unhealthy Seamless Order. I try to limit myself to one DLNUSO a week, and since I hadn’t even been home in the last week, it was a fair time for it.
I rarely go two weeks without Chinese food, but it had been even longer in this case, so that was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, at that time of night, the only available Chinese options on Seamless were super dark—too dark, even, for a DLNUSO. So I went a notch less delicious and a notch less dark and ordered a straightforward vegetable udon noodle soup from Ageha Sushi. Udon noodles are how I imagine cartoon noodles would taste.
Friday, June 10
Quick warning: I’m about to spend three days in my apartment. Reasons:
1) Being in my apartment is easy and fun.
2) I just returned from traveling for a week, and starting Monday I had a busy out-and-about week coming up.
3) My girlfriend’s traveling for work all month, so there’s no one to see me live my life up close and be sad about it.
4) Except it’s fucking Grub Street week so actually there are a lot of people I’ll be making sad.
Also, a general note: My usual eating rule is “Keep things reasonably healthy until dinner and then whatever happens happens.” Usually a week of dinners is a mix of pretty healthy cooked meals, moderately unhealthy Seamless orders or restaurant meals, and the occasional DLNUSO. This week, the girlfriend out of town eliminates the cooked-meals component, which isn’t ideal. It’s not that only she cooks—I do too sometimes—it’s that what’s the point of me cooking just for me. Just a really inefficient thing to do. Ya know?
Anyway, back to the diary:
Friday started with breakfast not being a thing (other than a cup of Keurig Peet’s French roast)—something that proved to be a theme during this three-day hermit period.
For lunch, following my “try not to be a dick about food until dinner” rule, I ordered a spinach salad from Gigi Cafe and doused it with a few of my 17 hot sauces to dull the disappointment.
For dinner, I finally did a real DLNUSO and got that Chinese meal in: a hot-and-sour soup (the best food item in existence in my opinion), an order of General Tso’s chicken with white rice, and six steamed pork dumplings from Lili’s 57, one of those upsetting places that serves both Chinese and Japanese food (I’ll order Chinese from one of those places if need be, since Chinese is already a gross situation so who cares, but not Japanese and definitely not sushi). I ordered the dumplings because I had a friend over to watch the NBA Finals game who claimed he wasn’t hungry, and I knew that when the food arrived he’d suddenly find the inspiration to share my meal (he ate four of the six dumplings and a third of the chicken). While waiting for the food, I had a bottle of my favorite beer, Stone IPA.
Saturday, June 11
Nonexistent breakfast, Keurig Peet’s, and a light delivered sushi lunch like a good boy. A spicy tuna roll, salmon avocado roll, and miso soup lunch special from Ageha. Delivered sushi is the only meal I know of in the fully overlapping center of the “legitimately delicious / legitimately healthy / completely effortless / not expensive” Venn diagram, so it happens for lunch at least three days a week.
Dinner was a Seamless-delivered item called pappardelle al ragu di salsiccia from Ristorante Il Melograno. I had no idea what was gonna be in the bag when it arrived, because I don’t speak Italian and Ristorante Il Melograno doesn’t seem to care, but it was delightful and gluttonous. I topped it with some drops of the extraordinarily delicious Tabasco Family Reserve sauce, which is different and better than normal Tabasco.
I’m not a huge candy person, but that night I tried a blood-orange-and-honey-flavored “Chewie Fruity” made by a company called Torie & Howard. It had arrived to me as part of my latest installment of the Love With Food food box, which sends me an assortment of high-end junk food once a month. Imagine a Starburst, but a super fancy one, made from things like cane sugar and brown sugar and maple syrup. It was literally the best thing I have ever eaten. It hurt my soul it was so good. I immediately had the other two (there were three in the box total) and spent the time eating the third one deeply sad that the game was over. I went straight to their site and ordered two bags of assorted flavors and am still excruciatingly waiting for them to arrive. And now I’m telling you about it. Welcome to Love With Food’s business model.
Sunday, June 12
An important thing happened Sunday at noon—the FreshDirect order I placed on Friday night arrived.
We order FreshDirect about once a month, and the week after it arrives is always incredible. For those few days, the fridge is converted from a nothing-machine into a cornucopia of fresh, undepressing produce. Like an adult.
So Sunday lunch (breakfast was not a thing again) was a heavenly snack meal — Blue Chips, fresh salsa, a ripe avocado, baby carrots, hummus, black olives, grapes, lime seltzer. My fridge had burst into springtime.
For dinner, back to my old ways with a Seamless-enabled lamb shish kebab plate from Istanbul Kebab House. Good hot sauce meal.
Monday, June 13
The dream is over. Time to leave the apartment.
On the bright side, I had breakfast for the first time since this diary began: an avocado, some mango slices, and a bottle of coconut water. God bless post-FreshDirect week.
Note: When I eat an avocado, I do it by cutting it in half, taking out the pit, and filling the two pit indents with a delicious thing like apple cider vinegar, Italian dressing, olive oil, or sriracha. Then I eat both halves with a spoon in about 20 seconds. It’s messy and hectic but very enjoyable.
Stumptown black coffee from a coffee shop that truly doesn’t give a shit, Boule & Cherie. Lunch was with Wait But Why’s one employee and three of our four summer interns. We were at Friedman’s, where I found myself staring at these two adjacent items. Keeping to my predinner-non-self-loathing rule, I ordered the horribly disappointing-tasting one. Upsetting. Worse, some other dick at the table ordered the good one.
Later that afternoon, I walked by a Baked by Melissa shop, which is not something I can do without eating six cupcakes. I bought two mint-cookie, two cookies-and-cream, and two red-velvet tiny cupcakes, and ate them all in 12 luscious seconds on the sidewalk. By far the best moment of this diary.
That night for dinner, I ate the second half of my joyless vegetable sandwich from lunch that day, but I brought the experience up from a 4/10 to an 8/10 by blanketing the whole thing with an assortment of hot sauces.
Tuesday, June 14
Things started with some FreshDirect cherries out of the fridge. You’re supposed to wash things like (non-organic) cherries, right? But what’s really happening? You’re not washing anything, you’re hastily rinsing the fruit with cold water. If you got something gross on your hand, you’d never just rinse it with cold water for a second because that wouldn’t solve the problem—you’d scrub it with warm water and soap. And since no one scrubs their fruit with warm water and soap, doesn’t that kind of mean that there’s nothing that bad on the fruit you buy? And if so, then can’t I just eat it without doing anything? That was my logic when I chose not to wash the cherries.
I went from fridge cherries to Stumptown Coffee from dickbag Boule & Cherie, and then off to some place called the Harold to meet a friend for lunch. I ordered an outrageously priced $20 tuna niçoise salad, which was subpar. Grabbed a cucumber seltzer from Pret after lunch to remind myself that some things were good.
I had plans to meet a friend for dinner, but first I went to a book-launch party, where I had two glasses of wine and starvingly ate 12 spring rolls and 14 pieces of cheese from the succulent hors d’oeuvres table. Not a good look.
Having made that life decision, I arrived at dinner at a delightful hole in the wall called Gazala’s Place. Unfortunately, I was now super not hungry, so I just split an appetizer sampler plate and skipped an entrée. I also ordered a beer, which I then didn’t want, because I never want alcohol when I’m full.
I finished the night at Pig ‘N’ Whistle for a drink with a friend. Having learned my lesson from dinner, I ordered an iced tea, which depressed my friend.
So there you have it. I give myself a B-minus for the week, which is pretty standard.
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More thoughts on daily life:
On email being an awkward medium
On social interaction being perilous