Monday, 25 June 2018

Queer Eye For the Snarky Food Lover...

The Fab Five - Kamaro, Antoni, 
Tan, Bobby and Jonathan
Queer Eye is back! Wooohoo! Netflix's rebooted makeover show has returned for a second series. You've either seen it or you haven't, but worry not. This blog is not about Queer Eye in its own right. If it's all a mystery to you, don't panic. There's a couple of paragraphs to get through before we move on and I get to my point. But seriously, if you haven't seen it and you have a Netflix account, do yourself a favour and give it a go. 

On a superficial level, Queer Eye is a classic makeover show. Five men who happen to be gay, invade someone's life for a week, to improve areas of their existence. From their clothes and hair, to their home and organisation, to their emotional literacy and ability to feed their loved ones - each area is titivated and elevated. (Elevated is a very Queer Eye phrase.) That's the superficial level. But on a much more profound and deeper basis, Queer Eye opens up conversations around mental health, toxic masculinity, self-esteem, pride, body image and fear. The individuals concerned have been nominated by their friends and family because they are worried about them. They've lost their spark, let themselves go, or are struggling to reach their potential. The Fab Five rock up, focus on the external image of the person which then kickstarts some seismic internal changes from within. I've said it before, but this programme should be shown in Primary Schools. It debunks so much shit that society casually piles on kids as they grow. Anyhoo, that's what Queer Eye is and it's totes marvs.
The lovely Antoni.
There's a reason I bring this up now. Basically, one of the Fab Five makes me laugh a lot. Let me give you a bit of context. In the week someone's life is being transformed, we see Bobby working his ass off, refurbing multiple rooms in their home. Tan revamps the person's wardrobe, throwing out clothes that don't fit, suit or show off the wearer's assets well enough. Jonathan is the groomer. He cuts hair, shaves beards, provides skin care advice and boosts confidence. Kamaro is in charge of culture. This takes the shape of counselling-esque chats about what has gone wrong so far and how the person can take back control of their life and be a better person. So far, so good. All team members pull their weight and take their share of the responsibility of the makeover. But then there's Antoni. It could be said that Antoni coasts a bit. His role is to improve the culinary skills of the makeover-ee, so they can feed their families, confidently invite friends round, or just ditch the takeaways and become heathier. This is great on paper, but in reality Antoni's contributions are basic. In the first episode of Series One, he teaches Tom how to make guacamole. (It's mashed avocado with a bit of flavour. What's to teach?) In later episodes he branches out into grilled cheese, a salad, and hotdogs. His tips are laughable and every time he's on screen I find myself amused at how little cooking expertise he demonstrates. Series Two is the same, perhaps with less effort. In Episode One, Tammye is already accomplished in the kitchen. So Antoni asks her to show him how she makes macaroni salad. So she does. His contribution for the whole show is asking how much mayo she puts in. The fact he is a full part of the Fab Five camaraderie and has very beautiful brown eyes, means no one really cares too much, and his basic skills are treated as nuggets of genius. Indeed, as I was watching Series Two this week, I found myself writing down and adapting one of his 'recipes'. I had to have a word with myself, but I still scribbled it down.

And when I think about it, maybe there is a place in the world for Antoni and his 'bestest food tips.' Most days, I spend about two hours prepping and cooking my tea. I know this is ridiculous, but I like it. I like standing up after sitting for most of the day, and stretching as I chop, soak, peel and boil. I like the drawn-out ritual of making interesting meals from scratch. I like the process as much as the consumption. And this is fine most of the time. But sometimes, time is tight. Sometimes I really want a quick, snacky tea. Sometimes an hour and a half is an absolute faff. And sometimes Antoni's words of wisdom come floating into my head, even though I know fancier, more time consuming ways of creating sustenance.

And so, in homage to the hidden genius of Antoni Porowski and his hands-off kitchen talents, I offer you five basic, piece-of-piss meals that I've made in the past week. Time is tight at the moment. There are football matches to watch in addition to book-editing and publishing prep to complete. My usual kitchen-heavy routine feels stressful. So the meals are getting simplified. It's my only concession to the lack of time. That, and the fact my roots are shocking. See what you think (about the meals, not my roots), mix them up, and make them your own. Or don't. It's just a bit of fun. (For those who care about such things, the Weight Watcher's Smart Points are in brackets after the 'recipe'.)

Big Mac Salad
(This is in no way endorsed by
 McDonalds, and I should probably
call it Large Burger Salad instead.)
Big Mac Salad
Take any burger. Cook and chop it up. Place on a bed of iceberg lettuce, chopped gherkins, diced onion, and grated cheese. Top with a drizzle of burger relish, American mustard and tomato ketchup. Mmmmmmm. (5sp for an average sized burger, 1sp for 50g protein cheese. Everything else is 0sp as long as it's just a drizzle.)

Antoni's Nuts
Antoni's Nuts
In Season Two, Episode Four, Antoni made this with peanuts. I've swapped them for chickpeas just to be healthier. Drain a can of chickpeas and bake in the oven for at least 30 mins. In a bowl add diced red onion, chopped coriander, chopped garlic, chilli, and lime juice. Add the roasted chickpeas to the bowl and stir together. Excellent snacky football food, to be eaten with fingers. Babywipes essential. (0sp)

Loaded Nachos
Loaded Nachos
Nigella has a cracking salsa recipe that I use here. It's red onion, garlic, cumin, tinned tomatoes, jalapenos and salt. Chop everything and dry fry until the onion and garlic soften and it's all mixed together. That's the salsa done. Then, take a large bag of lightly salted tortilla chips and layer an oven dish with a quarter of them. Sprinkle over grated cheese, add a layer of salsa, and some kidney beans. Repeat until, all the Doritos, and salsa are used up. Bake in the oven until the cheese is melted. Football-friendly, snacky-but-healthy, fit-as-frig food to titilate your taste buds. (12sp for 86g Doritos, 2sp for 100g protein cheese. Everything else is 0sp.

Egg and Beans on Toast
(For clarity, these beans
are the real deal, not
home made healthy ones.)
Egg and Beans on Toast
The best hangover meal ever! First off, make your own baked beans if you're arsed about sugar. A can of haricot beans with some passata and seasoning does the job. Or just buy the Heinz version. Then, toast a slice of bread, spread with Vegemite (obvs) and add a slice of low fat cheese. Dollop on some scrambled eggs, and pour the heated-up beans over the top. Properly stodgy, filling-but-not-too-unhealthy loveliness. And it's ready in minutes. (If beans are homemade, it's just 4sp for the toast and cheese. If using the Heinz version, the meal will be 15sp.)

Dippy Crisps. Naturally.
Dippy Crisps
I WILL NOT APOLOGISE FOR CRISPS. Especially when the accompanying dip contains two of my Five-a-Day. (Fat free Greek yoghurt, whizzed up with chargrilled peppers, chillis, some lime juice, salt and pepper.) I think my inner-Scandinavian has been acting up for Midsummer, and I've been influenced by their Friday night, crisp tradition. (Click the link - it's a thing. A perfect, Friday-night-crisp-eating thing.) (14sp for 90g of Walkers Ready Salted. 0sp for everything else.)

So happy eating! Whatever you make, however long it takes, and however much of an absolute blag it is, enjoy every mouthful. Fair play to Antoni. I'd have never thought about the nuts thing, even though I ditched his peanuts for chickpeas without a second thought. Inspiration can come from anywhere. It's all about keeping your eyes and mind open to new ideas, wherever they come from. Life tends to get a bit samey when we forget that. 

Have a lovely week, folks.


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