Food Hacks Are for Assholes

Are we really such a feckless generation we can't get it together to use an oven? Have you ever actually tried to make a quiche in a mug? It's the kind of microwave abomination that wafts under your bedroom door and clings to your hair while you sleep.

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Jun 1 2015, 2:20pm

Photo via Flickr user Johhny Stiletto

At some point in the past few years, the internet burst breathlessly into our kitchens and began rummaging around in the cupboards. It started slamming grapes between lids and insisting they needed to be cut in half. It poked spaghetti into our coffee pots LIKE A BOSS and shouted "HACK" in our faces while we nodded along, confused. Quietly, we wonder to ourselves whether (LIFE CHANGING!) putting a fork in an Oreo solves any kind of problem, or if serving crudités in an old muffin tin (ZOMG!) is really making our mind equal blown.

Imagine this scenario: Over at Mi6, agents are busy decoding complex intelligence systems that pose a threat to international security. At lunchtime, Pete from accounts bounds into the office kitchen, carrying his avocado salad (the internet invented avocados) in a Mason jar. "Hey guys," he grins. "Check out my SICK SALAD HACK," he says, aggressively bashing his lunch through the neck of the jar. "Pretty keeeewl, huh?"

For every useful food hacking tip there are 25 more for the terminally unfuckable and alone.

The other code crackers grit their teeth, but one, Mike, can't take it anymore. He looks up from the reams of algorithms on the screen in front of him and clears his throat. "The thing is Pete," he says, "I mean, you seem pretty pleased with your salad and I don't mean to piss on your parade here, but it looks an awful lot like you've just crammed a bunch of salad ingredients into a jar." His colleagues look up from their screens. "And, I couldn't help but notice you had to bring your lunch in a big backpack this morning. In fact, last week you actually managed to smash it to smithereens on the way to the office. Would we... could we.... call what you've done there a hack?"

Meanwhile, graveyards of Swedish interpretations of Tupperware languish in the aisles of Ikea. Sixty years doing their portable food thang just fine, and just like that they're out of a job.

Barr a few vaguely useful kitchen tips, the ejaculatory enthusiasm of hack culture is exhausting. Cutting the corner off a ketchup sachet now qualifies as "life changing." And there is at least one human being who actually believes they've "hacked" their waffle iron by squashing tater-tots into it.

But why? Are we really such a feckless generation we can't get it together to use an oven? Who can we blame? Hang on, is this Netflix's fault?

While some "hacks" threaten our ability to think logically, others make vague sense—they're just bleak as fuck. The sort of thing that would be real handy if you had limitless time and restricted access to a kitchen, like say, in prison.

Serving time for robbery? Keep your hands free for whittling toothbrushes by eating food from your hoodie like a pig trough! Inviting your fave murderers over for a cell block party? Why not fashion your commissary Doritos into this handy serving dish? We don't want things to get stabby, like the last time you were trusted with a plastic bowl.

At its very best, a quiche is a touch-and-go picnic option. But this—this is the culinary equivalent of a fart in a mug photographed from above.

When viral sensation Stephen Reed of Weber Cooks got his big break cooking heart-rippingly depressing microwave meals, the internet was alive with mirth. Stephen! Oh, what an adorably sad Mr. Microwave!

This was the very same corner of the internet that suggested I make quiche in a coffee mug. In terms of high-concept disgusting meals, this is up there. Has a dish ever been more laden with pathos than the coffee cup quiche? At its very best, a quiche is a touch-and-go picnic option. But this—this is the culinary equivalent of a fart in a mug photographed from above, the kind of microwave abomination that wafts under your bedroom door and clings to your hair while you sleep.

HackTheMenu is another big player on food hacking "scene." Essentially, it's a singles website for people who are not seeking a partner that promises to hook you up with fast food that will #changeyourlife and (cue solitary tear) "be your best friend."

Can you imagine knowing the kind of person who drives you 20 miles to Burger King and winks back at you in the queue while he orders "frings"? (Picture the confused look on the faces of the staff who, for another 99 pence, would have just given him both fries and onion rings.) Is he really that skint? No, of course not, this is not a money thing. This is performative pennilessness. If you offered him £50 just to stay in, he'd probably turn you down.

Of course, some food hacks make veritable sense. Learning to put stones back in avocados hasn't changed the course of my life, but it has made my guac less brown, so I have the internet to thank for that. But for every useful food hacking tip there are 25 more for the terminally unfuckable and alone. There are actual humans who spend days collecting and hand-washing empty crisp packets for their "walking taco" post. Because who needs food to taste good when you've got all those upvotes to nourish you?

It seems that, in our pursuit of novelty amid the incessant hum of online living, we forgot to wonder if our minds might have been too easily blown. In devouring the internet, we forgot to ask ourselves some pretty basic questions. Will it taste nice? Is this actually quicker? What the fuck even is a hack? You could ask Pete from accounts, but he's busy picking up the shards of his salad jar.