I’m a dick when it comes to food. I’ve always been deeply opposed to the idea of cooking, simply because I’d much rather be doing something important like lying down. Lately I’ve taken to using “the time pressures of a full time job” as my go-to excuse for buying pizza or cooking/reheating nachos for the sixth night running, but in reality the entire history of my culinary endeavours has been a quest for the Ultimate Shortcut: that Holy Grail of a meal that’s cheap, tastes okay, isn’t overtly unhealthy, and requires very little time or effort to produce.
Living at a hall was great because I didn’t have to bother; all I had to do was drag myself over to the trough and stick my head down. Forget the Fresher Five—in my first year I put on almost ten kilos, vital padding for the long and miserly road ahead.
But once I started flatting, the quest for the Ultimate Shortcut began. Every few months I would stumble across a new meal that seemed to indulge my inherent laziness to implausible new degrees. Mac and cheese. $2 shoestring fries from the Flying Squid. When I combined the leftover cheese sauce from my mac and cheese with the $2 fries, I thought I had found the Ultimate Shortcut. “Are you the One?” I hoarsely whispered in the depths of my refrigerated hellhole, snot dripping from my nose and glistening streams of cheese marking salty trails down my fingers. But no: when the Flying Squid raised their prices I found myself overcome with malaise; and when I discovered that malaise was also a symptom of scurvy, I moved on.
Indian curry jars were a source of inspiration. Butter chicken. No. Too expensive. Butter mince. Mango mince with rice. Rogan Josh with deep-fried chips. I moved on. Pasta bake: that held the ascendancy for at least two years, once I stumbled upon the golden combination of tomato pasta bake sauce (out of a jar, naturally), spinach, and cream cheese. I gave it up for an expensive fling with some classy fish tacos. That didn’t last. Are nachos the Ultimate Shortcut? Is Soylent?
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Narrative convention dictates one of two paths for this editorial. I could deliver a wise lesson about how the Ultimate Shortcut doesn’t exist. To be a healthy, well-rounded adult, I must embrace the virtues of slow food and stop looking for the easy way out. It’s a metaphor for life, or something. Or, with a steely expression and a touching, vulnerable determination, I could express hope that the Ultimate Shortcut is still out there, waiting for me. I won’t give up hope, I could say, while I steadily walk off into the sunset, and the crowd cheers and maybe tears up a little at my brave decision to follow my heart right up until it gives out at the age of 31.
I won’t do either of those things, because the theme of this issue isn’t wellbeing, or romance, or narrative tidiness. The theme of this issue is How To Be A Dick About Your Food. Instead of sharing with you my Ultimate Shortcut, I share with you my Ultimate Pointless Middle Finger To All That Is Holy, my Fatal Attraction recipe, a meal I picked up along the road and haven’t been able to shake since. Here is the Bacon Explosion: a meal that takes hours to cook, is extremely expensive, will definitely kill you instantly if you try to eat it all in one go, and, to be honest, is more funny than it is tasty. Enjoy!
500gm streaky bacon
One 400gm roll of sausage meat
2 Tbsp barbeque seasoning
At least 1 tsp chilli powder
1. Heat the oven to around 110°C.
2. Weave the bacon into a square mat. There should be some left over, fry and chop this up.
3. Layer the sausage meat on top of the bacon mat, leaving a gap of around 4cm at one side.
4. Put the fried bacon on top of the sausage meat with a generous dousing of barbeque sauce. Mix the chilli and the barbeque seasoning together, and sprinkle around half on top of the fried bacon.
5. Roll the bacony sausagey nightmare into a log, rolling toward the sausage-free end. Rub the rest of the seasoning into the top.
6. Measure its approximate thickness and cook in the oven for half an hour per centimetre. Have fun cleaning the tray afterwards.
7. Tell all your vegetarian friends about it. Congratulations! They now think you’re a dick.