The Austin Chronicle

I Eat Alone

Millennial Munching

By Greg Beets, December 31, 1999, Features

Dining at home alone for the big millennial celebration on New Year's Eve? Fret you not, big boy. Regardless of the "whys" surrounding your incognito status this year, give yourself a hearty pat on the back for not succumbing to the irrational pressure to socialize. There's absolutely nothing wrong with reveling in the glory of your own personality while everyone else is busy lowering their standards for a good time. You deserve fun on your own terms, and that's something you can give to yourself as well as anybody, maybe even better. That said, let's eat!

Begin your meal preparation by making sure the TV is in good working order. Television is the perfect companion for eating alone because you can yell at it without being yelled back at. I love to read as much as the next guy, but let's face it, you're going to feel pretty stupid yelling at a Tom Clancy paperback. Instead, take out your latent misanthropic urges on TV's nonstop parade of millennial hubbub. Quote from Guy DeBord's Society of the Spectacle with your mouth full. Make sure your straight-laced neighbors hear you screaming support for anarchism, euthanasia, and full-frontal nudity in prime time. For an even fuller sense of catharsis, consider throwing your dinner at the TV set.

As for the food itself, make sure you know what level of cooking you're comfortable with before you bother hitting the Y2K-frenzied supermarkets. Cooking can be a lot of work, and nothing ruins a good meal faster than too much work. Perhaps you'd be better off forgoing meal preparation altogether by getting takeaway at a fast-food outlet (or at many fast food outlets, see "Second Helpings," p.57).

If you're going to be preparing any kind of meat, I highly recommend a George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine. A single serving model can be had on sale for about $20. This trouser press for beef grills both sides of the meat at once, reducing cooking time by half. There's no messy oil splatter, and excess fat drains off the inclined cooking surface. Even better, clean-up time is reduced to a few quick passes with a soft sponge. If I sound like I'm getting paid to say this, I wish I were.

You could spend a lot of time peeling garlic cloves, dicing up parsley, and getting pepper juice in your eye, but seasonings that come in a container are much more user-friendly. It's not like you're cooking to impress anyone, so just shake some Zatarain's Creole Seasoning on whatever you're cooking, and be done with it. If you want to make your food hotter, try some Sriracha hot Chili Sauce. Although its most common use is with Vietnamese noodle soups, Sriracha blends well with just about anything.

If you're going the TV dinner route, stay the hell away from Healthy Choice. Although some of Healthy Choice's products are quite good (most notably their Chicken & Sausage Gumbo), New Year's Eve is not the time to get healthy. Go ahead and treat yourself by purchasing frozen entrees with at least 55% of the recommended daily saturated fat allowance. Make sure there's lots of flavorful sodium added, too. The good folks at Marie Callender's make a tasty Yankee Pot Pie that contains 60% of the RDA for sodium and an astounding 105% of the RDA for saturated fat. This is the kind of foodstuff I want to end a century with.

For your last dessert of the millennium, give yourself permission to lick the sugary sweet beaters of childhood one more time. Buy a can of Betty Crocker Creamy Deluxe Frosting and eat it with a spoon. Devour an entire 24-count box of Blue Bell Pop & Fudge Bars. Suck a tube of Pillsbury Cookie Dough. Finish off that tin of caramel corn you bought the day after Christmas for 99 cents. Do whatever the child inside you demands so long as it doesn't involve hostages. Then wash your dessert down with a four-pack of Bartles & Jaymes Original Flavor wine coolers.

Once the Times Square ball has dropped and the sound of illegal firecrackers subsides, pull out the big box of photos, love letters, and assorted mementos you've been saving since junior high school. Allow your mind to wander freely, pursuing old wounds, embarrassing memories, and agonizing "what-ifs." Gradually work your way forward until you arrive at the first picture taken of you and your most recent ex, the one where you were both impossibly giddy in love. As you ponder the implications of being at home alone for the beginning of a new millennium, let yourself weep profusely in honor of your many bad choices. And be sure there's a toilet nearby.

As noted 20th-century bard Howard Jones once sang, "Things can only get better." end story

Copyright © 2022 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.