I wish I could tell you that the other night, after ordering what I thought was a vegetarian sushi roll combo with a house salad, when, instead of a salad a miso soup arrived with my order and yet a side of ginger dressing was still mysteriously included, I didn’t dunk a piece of my avocado roll into said dressing in lieu of my usual wasabi-laden soy. I wish I could tell you that I hesitated about this decision, fighting gravity’s effect as a great shame weighed my chopstick-gripping hand down into the pool of sweet, tangy orange, leaving me no choice but to save my poor, drowned avocado victim by popping it into my mouth. I wish I could tell you that I didn’t justify said actions with the logic that it was basically the same as eating the dressing on the salad, because both are made of raw vegetables, the only difference being that there was rice.
But I did, and I would do it again.
I'm not sure at what point teenagers are supposed to turn into adults, suddenly equipped with the knowledge of how to do taxes and realizing that Bed Bath & Beyond coupons secretly never actually expire. I cannot pinpoint when I first acquired a taste for drinking my coffee black (or coffee in general, for that matter), or when I realized that having a savings account was actually supposed to be used to save money, but I do know that, at the age of 26, I am still waiting.
There has always been a certain discrepancy in society between our age and how we imagine that age should be: children are expected to act more mature than they are (“Act your age!”) while elders are assumed to be fragile, helpless, and on the outs. This expectation seems most prevalent when it comes to defining the actions and knowledge of adults. As a newly minted member of this group, I have found there to be a sense of silent competition amongst my peers to see who is best at playing the part of a grown-up, especially when it comes to taste. While we luxuriate in picking up when a coworker incorrectly pairs their Happy Hour wine with their Happy Hour snack, and revel in the expensive taste of the latest trending alternative milk-matcha-latte concoction (which probably in reality still just takes like dirt), it is a dangerous game to pretend like we have completely jumped ship from our childhood palates, leaving the days of Machurchan Ramen lunches and Pop-Tarts for breakfast behind. The pretentious air that fills the space that this disparity creates leaves my new group very little room for error, forcing us to compartmentalize old habits into categories such as “secret confessions” and “guilty pleasures.”
But when is this evolution into sophistication meant to take place? At what age is it no longer tolerable to munch on Keebler cheese and peanut butter sandwich crackers for a snack, or are we forced to accept that Fruit Roll-Ups Tattoos are disgusting (actually, I learned this pretty early on--they are unsanitary and sticky and gross)?
I suppose for me this should have theoretically happened around the age of 20. If I wasn’t too preoccupied with getting really creative with meals living as an unpaid intern in New York City, perhaps there would have been room to expand my palate with champagne and caviar. Instead, I developed a routine that altered my appreciation for the finer things in other ways: buying frosted Animal Crackers from Duane Reade in bulk to eat for dinners; walking from Williamsburg to Chelsea daily to save money on a MetroCard; weaseling my way into gallery openings and fashion parties in hopes of a quick bite and a free drink (or two).
By starting Hungry Boy, I think there comes a certain expectation that my taste and knowledge of food sits above the rest. I am quizzed constantly by strangers and friends alike, seeing how my taste measures up to theirs, seeking to understand why I think my experience with food is so superior that I deserve my own platform to share it. But the truth is, I don’t: I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m cooking, or tasting, or feeling anymore than any other 26 year old with big eyes and a bigger stomach is. What I do know, however, is that we don’t give ourselves the flexibility to be able to have open, candid conversations and learn from each other enough.
It is important to me to be able to create a safe space for burgeoning food lovers to feel like they can share anything. Maintaining a blog through Hungry Boy will give me the opportunity to reflect on food experiences that I cannot achieve through visuals alone, and to allow me to develop a more direct, honest conversation with the community that forms around this project. Where else in the food world would I be able to share my shameless new ginger dressing, sushi dipping habit, or give insight to the fact that the only reason the aforementioned occurred was all thanks to my ability to perfectly sort Seamless sushi restaurant options through a rating system that I have finessed over the last few years which equally considers stars (at least three), delivery time (over 20 minutes but under 60), and roll combination options (the more variety the better)?
I hope you’re hungry.