With the start of a new academic year, students are publicizing various resolutions. Third-year economics major Antony Brown shared a couple of his in a particularly long Instagram caption accompanying a photo of himself cradling a single leaf of lettuce: to learn to cook simple meals, save more money, and attend at least one class per week. When asked about his prospective recipes in-person, Brown immediately appeared to turn sullen.
“I can’t even afford most of the ingredients, let alone attempt following a recipe. However, I’m starting slow and finding ways to improvise. This morning I learned how to fry an egg, but since I can’t afford salt, I used the remains of last night’s Fritos bag instead,” he explained, indicating an overflowing variety box on the counter. “It’s far from ideal, but it works for me. Besides, I recently heard that MSG is the sophisticated millenial’s salt.”
Brown revealed that he became inspired to learn how to cook from watching the late Anthony Bourdain on television and, more recently, reading his novel “Kitchen Confidential.”
“I was so profoundly affected,” Brown said about Bourdain’s death, his voice breaking. “Can you imagine my pain? Just before finals, when things can’t get any worse, I’m sitting in Pines when my roommate Edward appears and breaks the news to me. I thought I was going to die, and not because of the chicken tenders.”
Brown, shaking, tried to elaborate, but instead simply said that he needed to leave for a moment, leaving his roommate Edward Lin to answer further questions.
“Poor Antony,” Edward sighed, shaking his head. “These past few months have been rough for him. I’m no good at consoling people,and I figured that he probably didn’t want to hear the same words coming from my mouth day after day anyways, so I bought him that book for his birthday at the start of July. It was still a touchy subject, but I knew I needed to do something.”
Brown cried himself to sleep most nights before receiving the book, but he was found sobbing into a soup from Ralph’s the day after Lin gave it to him that, according to Brown, was “crafted to honor Bourdain’s spirit of adventure.”
“Kitchen Confidential” pulled Brown out of the dumps, reported Lin. He read the book voraciously and then one day announced that his new life goal was to follow in Bourdain’s footsteps.
“I wasn’t sure if he was being serious, but at that point anything positive was progress,” Lin said. “So here we are.”
At that point, Brown emerged from his room along with the sounds of a “Parts Unknown” rerun, dabbing his eyes with a handkerchief, but insisting on resuming the interview.
“Yeah, so I guess you know my story now,” Brown said, settling into a chair. “I’m a bit stuck, since my budget doesn’t permit me to buy all of these ingredients cookbooks ceaselessly mention, but that doesn’t deter me.”
Brown listed several of his other surrogate ingredients: spicy sweet chili Doritos for chili powder, sour cream and onion Lays for garlic powder, and Parmesan Goldfish for Parmesan cheese.
“Actually, you should stay for dinner if you can. I was going to try making lasagna, but the recipe calls for basil and that stuff’s expensive. In the meantime, can I get you a drink?” Brown turned around, reaching over a cheese-covered toaster laid sideways toward a 12-pack of Yerba Mate.