Within every meal can lie a story. Surely you’ve told quite a few edible yarns yourself—
last night was disgusting, shameful, and everything I wanted, you deserve some French Toast
I might love or hate myself; I’m interested to find out
I hate every high-fiving motherfucker in this room, but I really need us to reach a consensus on this proposal
This chicken salad, made from leftover hot wings and odds and ends from a “the films of Neil Breen and Chill” with my boyfriend, tells the story of a partner who orders more takeout than is needed for the both of us because they recognize that years of working as a freelance writer and having to hound employers for payment all the time hasn’t actually made me better at asking for what I need in concrete means.
Working in feminist publishing has made me reclusive, aloof. The most successful people in our business knew when to throw their friends under the bus and when to publicly drag them before the town hall to be hexed and banished for being problematic. You can’t run or hide from this economy of social capital. I’d rather stay inside. The room gets bigger, I get smaller, and one day I hope to be so small that I can’t be touched or smelled and then the rotten politics of female competition marketed as “sisters doing it for themselves” won’t even notice me.
Some of this is being burned by politics and some of this is having done shrooms and having a vision of my dead body being laid to rest in a cave right next to the bodies of all the other queer and trans feminists I spent my life feuding with. It was actually very tasteful. Our bodies were covered with lilies and floated down a stream in a macabre procession. Like, I feel like what I was meant to get from that is that we’re all going to be swept under the same rug, no matter how infinite the gaps between us seem to be, and so we should prioritize forgiveness over political purity?
I don’t know anymore, man. I just make the food.
A buffalo chicken salad is just one of those platonic meals for me, like pho and pizza. It’s cool, it’s hot. It’s spicy, it’s sweet. It usually makes me full fast because of stomach bloating, but I’m still very ladylike for ordering the salad. When someone leaves leftovers at my house that they paid for, I try to make the most of that gesture. Rather than eating the 4 remaining wings in a listless flurry, I wanted to construct a more well-rounded comfort experience. Not just emotionally, but in terms of fiber. We ate a lot of pizza.
Chop the lettuce. Or you can shred it if you wanna pretend you’re eating a salad from Subway.
My manager at Subway told me I was the worst employee he ever had to train. My parents took my paychecks to help offset the cost of college, so I wasn’t entirely motivated to do well, because I was 18 and didn’t understand the sacrifices my parents were making. My Subway was literally across the street from another Subway, and we’d sometimes swap staffs or pretend to have turf disputes because that’s the shit you do when you work at a fucking racket that sells soggy cold cuts and flavorless veggies to people for twice the price of a McDonald’s combo but with just as much fat or sugar and nothing you can really do will ever be as good of a fucking joke as that entire business model.
Slice your red onions into rounds. I prefer a variety of sizes and textures, but I’m cooking for myself, and I enjoy imperfection.
Chop the celery.
Debone your chicken wings. Even if your wings are cold, they should come apart quickly. It’ll be very messy, which is really the fun part. Well, that and taking things apart and breaking them down to their core primordial chunks and looking at a pulpy, bloody mess before you and having that oneness of being able to accomplish something that looks like how you feel. Broken up. Irreparable. Leaking all over a sterile and pristine background, contaminating everything you touch, but succumbing to the comfort that at the very least, in some way, your fumbling sustains those around you—it gives joy to the people who hurt you, who put you where you are, and affirmation for those who have to take care of you who know they’re good and patient and graceful even if you can’t acknowledge this.
Throw your cartilage, bones, and gristle in the compost or, if you go where eagles dare, in a pot to make chicken stock. I’d do the latter if you’re working with more than four wings.
Dice your chicken meat to the desired consistency.
Throw everything in the bowl. Scrape off excess hot wing sauce into the bowl; I had a little reservoir formed in the original packaging the wings came in, and it was pretty satisfying to wring out that tin foil to get a nice blood orange waterfall.
The buffalo wing was invented by a woman and throwing it into food considered “chick food” for women to eat on dates to not offend their male dining companions and making it A VESSEL OF CULINARY MASOCHISM makes a very subtle threat to the men in your life who will talk down or underestimate you.
It might not be restaurant quality, but from four leftover hot wings we got a lush, refreshing lunch option, with fiber, B vitamins, potassium, folates, biotin, and whatever the hell is in 99 cent iceberg lettuce. Water and suburban despair, I imagine. It could use some darker greens, and maybe carrot shavings if we were trying to impress someone, and if you’re able to venture to the grocery store and not have that problem where you are excited and also devastated by women who make eye contact with you and so you just abandon your basket and leave entirely, then I wholly encourage you to treat yourself .
I might grill the red onions next time, if I want to add different temperatures but also want the chicken to stay cold.
So, I guess there’s no way around this—
those little tubs of bleu cheese you get with wings aren’t enough. They definitely wouldn’t be left over.
What did I use for dressing?
DON’T TRUST ANYONE. I KEEP TELLIN’ YA.
(Not a whole lot, not even two tablespoons. Just enough to add that tartness and creamy texture you’d normally get with bleu cheese. AND there’s no clumps, if that’s a thing you find off-putting by blue cheese. I promise this is not as bad as you are making it out to be in your head. It’s just a teeny bit. You wouldn’t even call it a “dab”, unless you’re under 25 in which case take up birdwatching or collecting Garbage Pail Kids because if you’re dabbing that amount on the reg you might be developing a problem.)
Eating this salad reminds me of spring. It reminds me of the 50 cent wing nights at Buffalo Wild Wings when I was in college. It reminds me of going out on frivolous dates with people that might not go anywhere but it didn’t matter because life was grand and it was just good to share with someone else how grand your separate lives were. It reminds me to not constantly remind myself of the bridges I’ve burned or had collapse on top of me. People leave. It’s what they do. It’s not some magnificent peculiarity that requires endless harping. I have leftover hot wings and ghost pepper hot sauce. There are ways to hurt ourselves more conducive to creating engaging content.
Speaking of which! I got a box of Soylent from a freecycle board! It’s 16 days worth of not-food. I’ll be drinking it for the next two weeks and blogging my experiences and attempts to make it palatable. If I can convince at least one reader of the unsunstainable mediocrity of productivity for productivity’s sake, it will be worth it. I guess a Soylent sponsorship would be okay, too.