Cooking & Eating, Reading & Writing

He Calls it FOOD: A LOVE STORY. We Call it HOT DOG! DADDY!

Every time I read a chapter, my kids demanded hot dogs for dinner.

By his own admission, Jim Gaffigan has an unhealthy relationship with food. I don’t just mean that his eating habits are unhealthy. Well–look at the cover of his book. Food is less a vital element of Jim’s survival. It’s more of a lover. This isn’t all that uncommon, especially among Americans–there are some statistics somewhere in the book about how many Americans consider their relationship with food unhealthy, though since it’s a book by a comedian I automatically assume they’re made up. Some people’s relationship with food is on-again, off-again. Some are ashamed of their partner and keep the relationship behind closed doors. Jim has a less typical problem with his paramour. He’s clearly completely in love, head over heels, even willing to forgive glaring character faults (e.g. vegetables) but he just can’t admit it. Not fully, anyway.

There are times when he’s unabashed in his enthusiasm about food–when discussing the Reuben sandwich, for instance, or hot dogs. It’s like when I talk about my husband’s computer prowess or his cute but strange obsession with the sport of curling. I know other people will agree with me on these topics as being positive, or at least interesting, so I feel free to gush. Then there are other things. I mean, not with me and my husband–with Jim Gaffigan and food. Dirty things. Guilty things. Things he’ll admit to liking but can’t fully defend. Like McDonalds. Things he openly berates though it’s clear he finds them thrilling. Like Cinnabon.

Why can’t the man admit it? He’s probably eating a Cinnabon right now. He admits to buying them. He admits to eating them. He’s more familiar with the flavor of Cinnabon than I am with, say, Ho Hos, which I will openly admit to enjoying. And yet all he has to say about Cinnabon is insulting. If he truly hated them it would stand to reason he wouldn’t purchase them. He’d go one storefront over and purchase an Auntie Anne’s pretzel, which he also berates but perhaps less emphatically. He’d go to a vending machine and buy a pack of Ho Hos.

There are also times when he’s clearly disgusted and his love story turns a little mean spirited. When discussing Subway, for example. It’s like a lover’s bad habit that you can’t get rid of. My husband won’t stop biting his nails. The world won’t stop eating Subway. Reading Jim’s thoughts on the ubiquitous sub chain is like listening to someone make really good jokes about their lover’s tendency to fart in bed. It’s hilarious, obviously, but god forbid the farter in question should walk in. That would just be embarrassing. If the people at Subway ever read Jim’s opinion of them, there’s going to be some very heavy relationship talk.

Of course, the food world is bound to cut him some slack–comedy is his job–and Jim’s career in comedy originally flourished because of his love/hate relationship with food. Remember, if you will, the Hot Pocket. While decrying his disgust for these pockets of “nasty meat” and the digestive issues they engender, he admits to eating possibly hundreds of them, all when allegedly drunk. Presumably, this Hot Pocket eating started as research–when he first saw a commercial for Hot Pockets, he thought it was a Saturday Night Live sketch–but what do you want to bet he has Hot Pockets in his fridge right now? And not because his stand-up on the subject (people apparently yell “Hot Pockets!” at him wherever he goes) is probably more memorable than the company’s signature three-note jingle and they’ve given him a lifetime supply or something, but because he’s gone to the store and purchased them. While “drunk,” I’m sure.

It’s okay, Jim. We all have our things. Our foibles. You can say it: you love Hot Pockets and Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s. You are saying it, really, by going on and on about them. You barely mention vegetables, and mostly in relation to your kids. Arby’s–I believe you don’t love Arby’s, except for the beef and cheddar, which is hardly worth mentioning. You clearly only include it in an attempt to reach a word count. You could make a similar argument about Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s, but there’s a level of vitriol there that tells the reader that in some way, you really do care. So just own it. You love food. Unconditionally. So love it unabashedly. There’s no shame in love.

But maybe learn a little bit more about it, ‘kay? Because there is a difference between stuffing and dressing. And America was eating hand pies long before the Hot Pocket. But I understand, you’re “an eater, not a cooker.” And you’re a really funny guy. But you could do better by food, is all I’m saying. It’s certainly done right by you.



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