My snack drawer at work stocks imported chocolates instead of Hershey's bars, stinky cheese makes my heart swoon with lust and desire, and if my wine doesn't have legs, I want nothing to do with it.
My name is Diana H. and I am a foodie.
Unfortunately, while my palate craves the best, my debit card (her name is Debbie and I hate her) has recently staged a protest. She's a boring little Mastercard -- never wants my taste buds to have any excess fun or truffle butter. I would cut her up if I could, but I think that's what she wants, and I'm not really the violent sort. Unless I'm really hungry. Or provoked.
Foodies like moi are not programmed to budget. Ever since I graduated to solids, my Newpie parents socialized me to splurge on the contents that grace my flat stomach. I don't do cheap. I splurge! I savor! I stalk the gourmet food markets like I did my crush during sophomore year of college! Or at least I did until I got stuck paying full rent on my 2-bedroom West Hollywood-adjacent apartment for two months. Faced with the reality of paychecks that stay in my bank account for approximately the amount of time it takes me to write my landlord the monthly rent check, I, Diana H., foodie extraordinaire from the OC, have been forced to... gulp (don't worry, that was just tap water) ... budget.
While a foodie on a budget seems like an oxymoron, I've discovered a little trick that marries the two contradictory entities together like organic peanut butter and imported jelly. It's a little thing that smarties like me call "improvisation." No, that does not mean I'm buying the generic Ralph's brand instead of the label (oh the horror!). And no, I am not pulling a Winona -- I'm a good Christian girl -- I don't steal!
Rather than making Debbie take hit after hit of expensive meals out, in these desperate times, I've begun turning to the stove. My stove. You know, the one with the gas grills and the bright yellow teapot? Yep, that's the one! And so far it's been good. Grand even! I know my way around a chicken marsala. I can "Bam!" like the best of them! Except when I get a craving for a tuna salad sandwich from my favorite local purveyor of lunch time fare: Joan's on Third. Then things start to go a little dark.
Joan's and Debbie aren't the best of friends. Some might call them frenemies. I call them evil (Debbie) and good (Joan's). Fortunately, I have come up with a way to defeat the evil for the sake of the good: I buy the tuna salad innards sans sandwich ($2.38 for a 1/4 pound - see below), and use my own bread, lettuce and accompaniments from home!
I'll give you a little hint... it's ME.
And the best part? I don't have to wait for a table. Or that rehab-worthy A-lister to place her order for a chinese chicken salad, hold the everything. (I never liked her anyway.)