Thursday, October 13, 2011

doom and burritos

I've been having writing issues as of late...and it's all due to my current crisis of faith. So naturally, the solution is frozen food.

First, to be completely accurate, I'm really having crises (plural) of faith, not just a single crisis. Although I know I haven't had a future as an academic for years, it is, for reasons I would really rather not discuss, hitting particularly hard as of late. This adds to my crisis in my scholarship (namely: why do any?), crisis in identity (if I'm not a scholar or an academic, what exactly am I?), crisis in hope, friends, life, television viewing, you name it. However, if you've been paying any attention to this blog whatsoever, then none of this should be a surprise.

I've started to write several blog posts about said crises, but I generally get three long paragraphs and four re-writes into them before realizing I don't really have anything new to add to what I've already written. It's a shame, really, because writing always helps me work out my issues, but if I can't say anything original about the issues, what, really, can I work out? How can I improve?

Compounded with all this is the fact that I really don't wanna be that guy who always complains about the same stuff. Complaining is, I admit, an essential part of my identity. I still remember when one of my old bosses, while smoking cigarettes with me before work, had a dawning look of comprehension and said "Mike, you sure do like to complain." I just looked at him with one of those "thanks for stating the obvious" glares. None of this means I like being the complaining guy, least not as a primary identity, that is. Moreover, I don't want to lose the friends I have who still actually wanna hang out with me. I also don't want any normal readers of this blog to feel like they're eavesdropping on a therapy session.

I know I have to expand my level of thinking. I gotta hit new subjects. I need to broaden my scope. What, you ask, might be the solution?

Strangely enough, it hit me when I was grocery shopping. There was a logjam of idiots in the aisle I wanted to travel, so I instead cut through the frozen food aisle. As someone who is proud of turning himself into a pretty good home cook, I was a little surprised at the variety of food-objects for sale. Many were of the "oh, holy hell, people actually pay for something that looks this bad on the actual box?" Others, though, were updates of things I ate occasionally growing up. Glitzier packaging, more "extreme" flavors maybe, but in the end, pizza rolls are still definitely recognizable.

My mission suddenly became clear: I would relive the frozen food of my youth, one meal a week (as to not die from chemical intake). It would make blog fodder!

Week one was frozen burritos. As a teen, I would occasionally grab one for lunch...pile on some cheddar, nuke until the burrito was hot and the cheese had plasticized on the plate, douse with salsa, and you're done! My brand was Patio. My flavor was beef and bean. Authentic? Of course not, but it was pretty tasty.

They don't sell Patio up here. In fact, I couldn't even find a beef and bean burrito in the freezer case. Everything had gotten all gourmet-looking, particularly in terms of flavors. Frozen burrito makers in the eighties had no clue what chorizo was, for instance...but now it shared a wrap with eggs. Funky.

I settled on a steak and cheese burrito. The next day, I nuked it. I tried to eat it. It was awful. I know memory plays tricks on us, and I definitely know my tastes have changed...but this had the consistency and taste (I presume) of dog food. The ends were spackle-like, the middle was gross and paste-like. There is no way my teen burritos were this bad.

Score one against nostalgia, one against current food trends, one for my frozen food memories over the reality. One would hope this week's attempt (the frozen pot pie, currently in the oven) fares better. If not, it might be a sign that the bitterness in my life is poisoning even the mass market frozen food conglomerates.

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