Fifteen or so years ago when I was unhappy about everything from the way the world worked to the way my stomach didn’t, I went on a vegetarian kick. I kept it up for a year or more, and while I didn’t go so far as eliminating tuna fish (one of my five basic food groups), I stayed away from meat and prepared foods. It’s the only period in my life that I bought any nutrition or cook books. I was actually forced to cook some when I was a vegetarian, and I worked as a cook a few places in my college days, but I do very little of it now. In fact, I haven’t had a stove for around ten years, and I’m currently staying in a temporary apartment in Jerusalem without a refrigerator for three months, but that’s another story.
Back in those aforementioned college days, my basic bachelor’s diet was dark tuna fish every other day (88 cents for two cans at Star on sale) and macaroni on the days that fell in between for dinner. I used to melt American cheese on the macaroni, not realizing at the time that it wasn’t so much cheese as solidified vegetable oil with cheese flavor. Sometimes I’d get creative and boil some rice and fry an onion instead. My roommate used to accuse me of being ascetic, but I saved my pennies for lunch, which was either a meatball sub from the roach coach on the quad or a slice of Sicilian pizza from the Greek place on Huntington Ave. Breakfast was coffee and a cigarette.
Twenty years later, I’m not really in a good position to write and publish a cook book, but I’d love to find one that met my needs. As a bachelor who really can’t be bothered to do much more than boil water on a hot plate, it would have to show some real imagination. Unlike the me of twenty years ago, I actually care about things like nutrition and dietary fiber these days. For example, I quit smoking cigarettes and started eating a little breakfast some years back, which eventually standardized on oatmeal. Then I got bored with plain oatmeal and wanted more fiber, so I ventured into bran cereal with yogurt, but the stuff requires refrigeration. About two years ago, I finally figured out how to combine the best feature of bran cereal (dietary fiber) with the best features of oatmeal (texture and hot) as follows:
Put one teaspoon of Taster’s Choice instant coffee in a ceramic mug. Fill to within a half-inch of the brim with bran cereal. Next add boiling water, noting that the level of the cereal will drop as the flakes become water logged, and stop adding water when the top flakes are just above the surface. Next, stir the mixture with a tablespoon, making sure to dissolve the instant coffee throughout the mixture, and let stand for 3 to 5 minutes to solidify. Eat bran-coffee cereal with a tablespoon and try not to get it on the laptop keyboard, because it hardens like cement.
Now why can’t somebody publish a cook book like that for me? Save me from the dinner I just had:
Open one can of tuna fish and drain oil. Use a fork to extract the tuna from the can onto a plate. Rinse one tomato and one small cucumber (pickling size). Dice the tomato and the cucumber onto the plate. Take an unsliced loaf of bread, slice off bread to taste, plate with the tuna, tomatoes and cucumber. Add salt. Sit in front of the TV, use the fork to get some of the tuna fish and vegetables onto a piece of bread, eat like a starving man.
A niche cook book for non-cooking bachelors might be a hit with a self publisher. I suppose it might even work for a trade publisher if it were humorous enough. The ideal for me would be a cookbook that features meals that can be prepared in seconds from ingredients that keep for years, and nutritional information. Focus on the fiber and the protein, please.:-)