I live in Boston, which is to say that over the course of the past month or so I, along with millions of disgruntled others, have on more than one occasion found myself snowbound without proper provisions. I went to my local grocer in anticipation of an impending storm—this sounds a lot nicer than it truthfully is, as if I were going to an actual market peddling fresh, not-flaccid produce that hasn't just been offloaded from the back of a tractor trailer by a driver whose sole objective while on the road is to see how many times he can jack off between Duluth and the nearest Springfield, and who definitely didn't wash his hands before unloading the kale I'll eventually pop into my mouth—and panicked. I forgot that I like apples, I forgot that I like oranges, I forgot that I like salad. I ignored pragmatic, healthful options, food stuff I'll actually have to think about a bit before preparing (THINKING ABOUT INTERESTING WAYS TO PREPARE FOOD IS FUN AND SHOULD BE CELEBRATED), and instead opted for heavily processed shit in plastic bags. I'm sorry, but bulk packages of instant ramen, while delicious, do not qualify as proper provisions.
Disappointed in myself, I barked about my lack of produce preparation to the several buddies with whom I planned to ride out the storm.
Me: "I'm a fucking idiot. Who forgets to buy garlic? I knew there was a blizzard about to shit two feet of snow down onto the greater Boston area, and so I also knew I'd want to eat a LOT of eggs. Garlic, therefore, should have been a no-brainer. Also, no peppers? What kind of frittata contains no peppers? A frittata cooked by an ageusiatic, perhaps, but not one cooked by me. The only vegetables I DID manage to get were a single white onion and a bag of potatoes. As if I'm actually going to cook those fucking potatoes. What am I going to do, make fucking French fries? All I have for fat is a pretty solid bottle of olive oil, and I'm certainly not wasting a ton of pretty solid olive oil on a batch of French fries. And like, what else is there? Home fries? Home fries are boring. No, I fucked up guys. I fucked up bad."
No one else seemed to give even one half of one percent of a fuck that I'd forgotten to stock up on nourishing, delicious fruits and vegetables. Instead they sipped on their Narragansetts and stalked Tinder in hopes of finding equally desperate/stir-crazy mates with whom to do sex badly.
Me: "What, you guys don't like fruits and vegetables?"
One of them: "I don't really eat them."
Another of them: "Yeah, me neither. Too difficult to peel."
Another of them: "Totally."
First of all, there are a LOT of fruits and vegetables which do not require peeling, so that answer is positively bullshit from the onset. Secondly, how fucking lazy can one person—nay, three people!—be? You don't eat the very things that make your body work in the manner it's meant to work because you DON'T LIKE PEELING THINGS? Do you not have hands? Are you for some reason not allowed to USE them? That I could understand. If you don't have hands or are forbidden from using them, it's okay for you not to like peeling fruits and vegetables. Outside of that, I find this to be extraordinarily, astoundingly lazy behavior.
This got me thinking, and I came to a realization: My buddies might be hopeless domestically, but they're all otherwise intelligent, self-sufficient men. If they felt this way, there must be whole millions of guys out there also suffering from fruit and vegetable lethargy. It's never too late though, guys. I'm here to help. Follow these simple rules (orders), and you'll be well on the way to enjoying fruits and vegetables (and to experiencing a normal human lifespan).
Buy a decent peeler
This is the easy part. Stop struggling with that dull, rusty steel thing I know you're currently passing off as a peeler. That thing is a piece of shit and should be discarded with the skins it so artlessly removes from your carrots. A serviceable peeler can be yours for, like, five bucks—roughly the price of one can of PBR from your favorite dive bar. Make the investment, peel some potatoes (or, if you're a fully grown, bearded 9-year-old, remove the skin from your apple), and start eating like an adult.
Discover the joy of halving an avocado
This is my all-time favorite thing to do in the kitchen (and I don't even really like avocados that much). If, like me, you're turned on by symmetry, this will be your new favorite thing to do in the kitchen, too. Grab your biggest, sharpest kitchen knife, place the edge against the avocado on the vertical, and press the blade until it pierces the skin. Keep pressing. Soon, the blade will come to rest against the avocado's pit. Once it has, rotate the fruit 360 degrees, using the pit as a guide.
At this point, you'll want to remove the knife from the avocado to a flat surface. Holding the avocado in both hands, twist gently till you're holding two halves. One half will be ready for consumption, while the other will still contain the fruit's gorgeous brown pit. Retrieve your knife, whack the sharp edge of the blade down into the pit (this is a bit tricky, and a miscalculation could lead to a rather serious flesh wound, so be careful), rotate, and voila! If you've done this correctly, the pit should come out clean and remain on the blade of your knife. It's an incredibly satisfying feeling. Now you've got two halves of an avocado ready for eating. Go make some guac.
Stop buying those tubs of pre-peeled garlic
Sure, they're convenient as fuck, but you can't find a tub of pre-peeled garlic containing fewer than 100 cloves. We've already established that you don't eat vegetables; clearly you have no need for bulk garlic. Odds are, you're only going to use two of the 100 cloves in the tub, letting the other 98 wither away. Many people like garlic, and use a lot of it, and could have made good use of those cloves.
Also, odds are you're pretty clueless (sorry, it's the safe bet) about the concept of shelf life. You'll decide in mid-February that this is the year you're going to cook a romantic dinner for your significant other on Valentine's Day, and that this dinner should in some way involve garlic, because you heard from some guy once that garlic is an aphrodisiac. You'll go to the store, and you'll opt for the pre-peeled tub because you're lazy. You'll cook your Valentine's Day dinner (probably chicken parm or some other vaguely Italian dish drenched in red sauce), you'll deposit the tub of garlic somewhere in the back of your fridge, and you'll forget about it. Then, in mid-November, you'll decide to surprise that significant other with a home-cooked birthday meal. Twice in the same calendar year! You'll go to the grocery store, but as you reach for another tub of pre-peeled garlic you'll remember that you've already got some at home. But your home fridge is too warm for the long-term storage of garlic, and so, unbeknownst to you, your tub of pre-peeled garlic now is a clostridium botulinum factory. Because you're not aware of this, you don't think twice before rubbing the cloves all over the crusty bread you got. Your significant other is ecstatic—homemade garlic bread!—but the ecstasy, and you, are short-lived, because you get botulism.
Trust me here: Buy the real thing. You're not going to use it all anyways.
Bananas are your best friends
I despise bananas. They are a textural nightmare. (I imagine biting into a banana is a lot like biting into a dog turd.) But, they're quite nutritious and hyper convenient. You don't even need to buy a tool to peel this fruit, guys! (Side note: If you use the self-checkout aisle at the grocery store, always put at least one banana in your cart. Bananas are among the cheapest items in any grocery store, and if you're judicious, you can end up saving a lot of money at the register by ringing up expensive cuts of meat as bananas. Simply place the meat on the scale, and then place the bananas on top of the meat. Weigh it all as bananas, and then quickly move each item to the conveyor belt. You've got to keep an eye out for store employees, but let's be honest here—they probably don't give a fuck. Meat is bananas, guys. Remember that.)
You don't have to julienne your onions
Cut the top off, cut the bottom off. Take your knife, place it against the skin (much like you did with your avocado), plunge the blade in just deeply enough to cut through the first layer, and remove the skin. Then, who cares? Just as there is more than one way to skin a cat, there is more than one way to chop an onion. The forms the pieces take won't matter once they're frying in leftover bacon fat. (Oh, right—save your bacon fat and fry your onions in it.)
Some fruits and vegetables require no peeling at all
Dudes, there are SO MANY fruits and vegetables that require no preparation outside of a quick wash under the tap. Berries, apples, zucchini, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, plums, pears, peaches—I mean, you get it.
You need these things, guys. You need them, because without them, you'll die a horrible colorectal-cancer-related death in your fifties, if scurvy doesn't get you first. I don't want you to die a horrible colorectal-cancer-related death in your fifties, and I don't want scurvy to get you first, and if you're a remotely decent human being, your family and friends probably don't want that, either. So stop being a lazy shithead and eat your fruits and vegetables. Your mother wasn't right about much, but she was right about this.
Illustration by Tara Jacoby
Adequate Man is Deadspin's new self-improvement blog, dedicated to making you just good enough at everything. Suggestions for future topics are welcome below.