Well, it's around 11 on a Wednesday night and I've just pounded a huge cup of coffee. Let me explain. I recently quit drinking, and it seems I've replaced one addiction with a few others, namely coffee and sweets. I guess I should further explain that it wasn't just a cup of coffee — it was some concoction I'd normally never order. I have just downed a tall mocha caramel Frappuccino.
I guess it could be worse, but I'm often up late with this clarity thing going on in my head and ideas running rampant. What I can't get out of my mind right now is, well, couscous.
Couscous, couscous . . . stop! Dammit! I recently watched a crappy Seth Rogen movie in which he was stoned out of his mind and said, "Couscous, the food so nice they named it twice."
Maybe I should have swapped the booze for the bud, because Seth was right! Couscous is nice, but not necessarily because of its taste. Couscous is amazing because it's so goddamn easy to make, and it makes a healthful addition to a simple plate.
Really, you can transform any meal into an exotic-sounding dish by adding couscous. One thing I know is that women love both exotic things and healthful things — name one woman you know who doesn't obsess about her weight or who doesn't fawn over a guy with an accent.
Couscous is a godsend for anyone who frequents the kitchen. All you do is boil some water, remove it from the heat and add the couscous, a touch of butter, and cover. After five minutes, take the lid off and fluff with a fork and add to the plate. A monkey could make this stuff!
I once made a simple dish of grilled jerk chicken (don't read into this) and just placed it over a bed of garlic-flavored couscous (you can get many flavors at your local supermarket) and plated it with some sautéed spinach. The girl I had over thought I was amazing. I threw together a dish in, like, 15 minutes that looked exquisite, tasted good, and could be categorized as "healthful."
Between bites, she excitedly asked, "What's couscous?"
I froze for a second before answering. I froze because I had just realized I missed a cardinal rule of mine: Know what the hell you are serving!
I responded, "I think it's a grain, kinda like rice that when heated, expands. It's good for you." I then admitted I really wasn't sure exactly what the hell it was, so I grabbed an encyclopedia (yes, I still have one collecting dust) to find out more.
The honesty paid off in spades, and we got in close as she helped me look it up right there at the dinner table. She was eager to learn — a good sign. I came off looking like a guy who enjoys questioning things and who gets excited about life and learning.
In reality, she probably thought, "This poor sod is too old for me. Who the hell has a dusty encyclopedia? Maybe he's lying about his age. He probably still uses lambskin condoms."
It might have been a better move to just open up the laptop and Google it. What the hell, I'm old-fashioned. I think people like to hold books (or a free alt-weekly newspaper) in their hands. Whatever — she bought it. The wine was going down and the encyclopedia was splayed out when I leaned in for the kiss-kiss. I lucked out that she didn't know a damn thing about food.
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Since that knowledge near-catastrophe, I have made sure to know everything about what I'm cooking. Keep in mind you're taking this advice from a guy who once read a New York Times review of a movie before taking a date to see it. The reason I read the review was manipulative and creepy — my date loved movies and I was a little intimidated. Picture, if you can, me in the car on the way home talking prolifically about how the cinematography was reminiscent of Hitchcock, which really set the mood and created a sense of irony when juxtaposed with the filmmaker's earlier work.
Hey, take it easy on my creepy ass. You know you've told a date that a wine tasted "jammy with berry and coffee overtones" before, haven't you?
Ahhh, the couscous. Not only is it easy to make, it really ties a plate together. It's kind of like rice, in that it can be used as a base for chicken, fish, meat, or vegetables. In the immortal words of The Dude, "It really tied the room together, man." Maybe if you are lucky, your date will be tying you up later.
(By the way, it turns out that couscous is actually a finely ground parboiled semolina pasta found in most dishes in North African countries. It tastes a bit like nutty pasta, and is about the size of a large grain of sand.)