Garlicky, Lemony, Brothy, Creamy
Easy Weeknight Food Orthodoxy
First, a quick acknowledgment that Nabeel gave me the idea for this one:
On a recent walk around my neighborhood, I was struck by the fact that my entire life now, as an upwardly-mobile yuppie living in Brooklyn, is a never-ending buffet of aesthetically pleasant experiences. My block (I am lucky to live on such a block) is full of fragrant flowering trees in the springtime. My yuppie neighbors, all of whom I assume are mid-level PMs at digital marketing data pipeline startups, whatever that means, have cute babies and fancy dogs. They will one day move to Montclair, New Jersey. They are all very attractive, or at least attractive-adjacent. Since college, I’ve slowly built up the collection of items I own so that my apartment looks a certain way. Everyone I know puts time and effort into dressing in nice colors and having a nice haircut. All of this happened sort of organically; it’s the natural manifestation of being a member of the educated middle class in a city that considers itself on the vanguard of taste. I live in a beauty bubble. I am, to say the least, an exceptionally fortunate person.
I hope I will never get used to it. I hope that my appreciation will only grow. I can see how being accustomed to this sort of thing absolutely breaks rich people’s brains when dealing with, say, an unhoused person on their block. If everything in one’s field of vision has to be a curated aesthetic experience, the messiness of the less fortunate can feel unbearably ugly. That’s a psychopathic way to think about other people, but it’s the foundation of every cruelty inflicted on those who have fallen through the margins of society.
But I digress; this post is not really about class or crisis, it’s about why every fucking recipe is “creamy” or whatever now. Look, I don’t have an editor, okay?
There is a signature New York Times cooking aesthetic. Things are messy and slightly strewn, but in a very pleasing way. It’s the most perfect version of being imperfect that you can conjure. It’s a well-realized exercise in branding, to the point where the app has become the go-to for urban millennials who want to prove their prowess in the kitchen. Everything about the NYT cooking / Bon Appetit Vibe gestures at the idea of abundance. There’s so much of this food, say the photos, that we left some on the counter.
There’s nothing really wrong about any of this, other than the fact that it introduces an almost exhausting sameness to the most sensually diverse part of many of our lives. There’s nothing wrong with pretty-looking food, just like there’s nothing wrong with anything looking pretty. I think I just wanted something to complain about.
I’ve been watching this guy’s channel for a while now, mainly because I’ve been trying to make more food like what I ate growing up. But also, I guess, because there’s only so many times one can make an Alison Roman-lemony-garlicky-schmaltzy-citrusy-crispy-brothy chicken.