A Lunch Fit For a Pathetic Shut-In

Today’s lunch: Three cut up hot dogs and two slices of American cheese, nuked in the microwave for two minutes.

I think it’s obvious that in some very fundamental ways I’m still twelve years old.

141 Comments on “A Lunch Fit For a Pathetic Shut-In”

  1. I am ashamed to say: that looks good. Beats my hot pocket and noodle bowl eaten at my desk.

  2. I think it’s safe to say that, in some very fundamental ways, your coronary arteries do not resemble those of a 12-year-old.

    That said… mmm… hot dogs…

  3. If that’s a pathetic shut-in lunch, I suppose I must be doubly pathetic for seeing that picture and thinking “Yum, I wish I was eating that.”

  4. Do you normally cook? If this is an abberation, then it’s acceptable. Even I make mac and cheese once in a while.

    However, if this is indicative of how you would eat all the time if your wife didn’t feed you, then you need help. What will you do when the apocalypse comes?

  5. That reminds me of childhood lunches that consisted of two hot dogs cut lengthwise half-way down the dog, stuffed with American cheese slices, wrapped in bacon, held together with a toothpick, and then nuked to glorious deliciousness.

    Now I’m wondering how it is I survived my childhood.

  6. Considering that my own lunch just consisted of half a chicken salad sandwich, 6 Triscuits smeared with brie, and a half dozen chocolate-chip cookies, the universe would smite me if I so much as made a peep about *your* eating habits.

  7. What will you do when the apocalypse comes?

    Well, after the apocalypse, those are likely two of the foods that will last longest. And you don’t even need a can opener!

  8. If it weren’t for the American “Cheese,” I think this might not be so horrifying.

    Really, why anyone even keeps that stuff in their house I don’t understand…

  9. I still respect you highly as a writer, but dear God man… Continue to thank your deity of choice for your wife.

  10. I certainly can’t criticize this lunch, seeing as I had a bowl of ice cream for breakfast today.

    Hey, it was “Mountain Huckleberry”, which is vanilla with swirls of huckleberry in it…so wouldn’t that count as “fruit”?

    Now I’m wondering what I have in the fridge for lunch…I need to go grocery shopping soon…

  11. Apparently, I have never been 12… because your lunch simply horrifies me. Or it could be that I’ve never really liked hot dogs. Or American cheese.

  12. I seem to recall you posting a link recently (a Whateverette?) about how to make entrails. This photo could easily accompany that article.

  13. It might sound counter-intuitive, but try a little A-1 on that. Seriously.

  14. Oh dear. The hot dogs, OK. But I prefer them grilled.

    The American “cheese” is right out.

    My lunch today is roast beef on 7 grain, with smoked gouda and horseradish. And a Bloody Mary, because I can.

  15. Yummy. Although I might suggest Velveeta as an alternative to the American cheese. Now all you need to do is slip this between two slices of your favorite bread.

  16. The closest thing I do to this for a regular meal is I’ll take some smoked sausage, slice it up, throw it in the rice cooker with a couple of cups of rice and some butter (possibly frying the sausage in the butter a bit first), and then top it with cheese in the bowl to eat. Mmm.

  17. Mwahaha. I used to do exactly that, then put it on a tortilla, nuke again for 20 seconds, add hot sauce, and eat. That got me through my last year of college and first few of grad school.

  18. You should heat up some corn tortillas, ersatz(sp?) corn dogs for the win!

  19. I am amazed at your energy- when I’m being a pathetic shut-in, I might eat the same ingredients, but probably wouldn’t stop to nuke them first.

  20. First glance I tought it was from a restuarant. But after reading the description it reminds me of the bologna and peanut butter sandwiches I used to make.

  21. Dude… you just made me hungry for those hotdogs with the fake cheese down the middle. I wonder if they even make those anymore…

  22. I had a remarkably similar dinner on Sunday night when I came home late and starving – chunks of polenta, diced ham, and grated Parmesan, nuked until hot and melty.

    Okay, maybe not all that similar.

    Still, there is something to be said for making something warm and cheesy and comforting in under five minutes.

  23. John, Don’t Do it!

    I’ll buy another copy of Old Man’s War, just keep that out of your stomach.

  24. Why American?

    Why not, y’know, cheddar?

    Or some other real cheese?

    skip @ 26: Being gluten intolerant, it’s stuff like this that gets me through the day when other people can make their fancy “sandwiches” with their “bread” made from “wheat” and other gluten-containing grains. I’m going to have to try this out now.

  25. You American Cheese — no, make that “FREEDOM Cheese” — haters are nuts. It is too real; there’s a cartoon of milk right there on the label. The stuff is delicious, as long as it’s not the individually-wrapped kind.

    (Also, note, the lunch in question is practically a recipe compared to the Kraft Single and Slim Jim on Wonder Bread sandwich he posted about a year or two ago.)

  26. Imagine this made with Spam and government cheese, and you have a significant portion of my childhood.

  27. This reminds me of a guy I went to university with. He was gluten intolerant, and had very little culinary skill, so every day his evening meal would consist of a layer of tortilla chips covered with melted cheese and bits of sliced up pepperoni. After a year of that, he developed a lactose intolerance to complement his gluten intolerance and allergies to citric acid, nuts, and caffeine. How this guy survived his B.Sc, I’ll never know…

  28. I think it’s obvious that in some very fundamental ways I’m still twelve years old.

    I think it’s obvious that in some very fundamental ways you don’t keep kosher.

    My lunch (eating it now): a gyrosburger from a local place: a hamburger patty topped with gyros meat, tzaziki sauce, onions, tomato, and feta cheese.

  29. Why do this when a real cheese sauce is so very simple? Microwave some heavy cream until it starts to thicken (don’t worry, cream won’t curdle just from boiling), then mix in the cheese of your choice until the desired consistency is achieved; pour over the cholesterol of your choice.

    Or you could just mainline cement. That would work too.

    (Btw, I make cream sauces all the time, so it’s not like I’m pure and good.)

  30. Reminds me of another fine guy cooking innovation, the dogarito. Just wrap a hot dog and some refried beans in a tortilla, nuke, and serve! Optional: cheese, salsa. If you use a whole wheat tortilla that makes it healthy.

  31. Re: #54. I hate to say it, Brad, but I don’t think a whole wheat tortilla makes a hot dog healthy. ;-)

    I have to say, my immediate thought upon viewing that photo was “Eeeewwwwww!”

  32. I never realised that writing was such tiring business that writers require The Meal of the Gods for sustenance.

    Being a heathen foreigner I have never had hot dogs or American Cheese but I presume they’re an outgrowth of the Manhattan project? I’m sure that ‘cheese’ is glowing.

  33. John, you are a great man and a personal hero of mine, and as a stay-at-home Dad/writer (though much less successful) I can see the attraction of such a meal.

    What I cannot see is what possessed you to take a photograph of it.


  34. As Calvin, of Calvin & Hobbes fame, once said of his lunch, to the irritating little girl sitting next to him, “It appears to be cigar butts in gallbladder sauce”.

  35. This reminded me of my boyfriend’s roommate…one night for dinner, he placed a block of cheese on a plate, topped it with several slices of bologna, and microwaved it. When the cheese was melted a little, he topped it with Taco Bell hot sauce packets.

    It was the most disturbing meal ever.

  36. I just struggled through a workout after eating a breakfast sandwich. I am already feeling very poorly as a result. I get back to my desk and see that hotdog and cheese picture. I swear it made my gut clench up.

  37. Well, as somebody said, “The Golden Age of Science Fiction is 12.” I can’t say who, because I have seen it attributed to several.

    Go for it.

  38. Now I know why you are married… It is because you would starve if there weren’t someone to cook for you!
    That’s the same reason I’m getting married too… :p

  39. Wow, that makes me look like Julia Child. And I mostly toss chicken breasts and/or thighs into a crockpot with random soups for the next five dinners.

  40. That plate is really begging for some canned chili. Not a whole serving or anything, the hot dogs are plenty substantial, just a little bit as dressing.

  41. When I come over for dinner, can I please have Krissy’s salsa instead?

  42. The entree depicted in the photograph is incomplete. You are supposed to take the dogs and cheese, place them in a bowl, and pour beer over them. I recommend a pilsner. Mix gently with spoon and serve. Then it is “beer dog soup.” Bon appetit!

  43. Looks delicious! Although I’d probably cut it down to only two hot dogs (trying to lose some weight); nonetheless, I’d eat at Restaurant Chez Scalzi anytime!

    Kind of reminds me of ‘quick and dirty’ grilled cheese… toast a couple of slices of bread, then toss one in the µwave with a slice of orange plastic, oops I mean Kraft cheese… then: smear peanut butter on the other slice of toast and bring the two together. No, you don’t need an antimatter containment field; this hardly ever results in any kind of energy burst. Exquisite!

    Next week: Kraft dinner à la cannelle!

  44. I see someone else has already beaten me to the “slap that between a couple slices of wonder bread” comment, so instead I’m going to share something I’d eat in college when the fridge was starting to get empty:

    Chop the hot dogs into a bent frying pan because you don’t own a functional microwave. Add a can of pineapple, any format, juice included, and up to a quarter bottle of barbecue sauce. Heat through.

    Serve over some sad lettuce you found in the back of the fridge.

    It’s not nearly as weird as it sounds.


  45. It seems that we find your diet facinating. (or is it fasinating? oh well..) And more accurately, we are concerned about your health with that sort of died. Not because we like/care about you as a person, but cause we would loose our pathetic substitute for a life as this blog would go down upon your death, due bad died.

    I wish you good health! (so I can keep my “life”)

  46. Patrick @74 That is not cheese. It is a vaguely cheese-like substance. And it is delicious!

  47. Mark Maranta @ 69
    I’m happy to see that some one else understands the wonderfulness of cheese and peanut butter on toast.
    My wife still looks at me funny when I make one and we’ve been together 30 years. (she still won’t try it either)

    On the other hand, I can’t eat hot dogs at all let alone look at this particular combination with out cringing. Probably has to do with having too many meals like this in college. I hate cheap box mac & cheese for the same reason.

    John @ 70
    You should know that we comment on everything from the trivial to the complex. I’m just not sure where this one falls on the scale… 8D

  48. If you ever want to fancy that meal up a little, all it takes is some mashed potatoes – instant, naturally.

    First, make your mashed potatoes. I find Hungry Jack ones taste the least like the cardboard box they came in. Then, make your hotdogs – boiled or nuked. When the dogs are done, slice them down the middle. This makes a lovely trough for the mashed potatoes. To facilitate melting, top immediately with a cheese single – be sure to remove the transparant membrane, as this is actually plastic, and is the least nutritious part of the cheese single.

    Et Voila – the Hot Dog Boat, beloved staple of my childhood.

    Under no circumstances should you use leftover homemade mashed potatoes or 5-year-old extra shap Wisconsin Cheddar. The fanciest you can get with this meal is using a Kraft brand single.

  49. My normal dish, when my soon-to-be-wife is not home making mee something actually edible, is rice/spaghetti, cheap meat slices and Uncle Ben’s Sweet ´n Sour sauce… Just boil the rice(avoid burning), fry the meat(use a pan, little oil, salt, pepper, avoid burning), after meat looks like its edible fry two more minutes and pour in the UB sauce. Eat for the next week. No need to enjoy.
    Remember, eating is transfaring energy from one mindles vessel to another.

  50. Throw it on some ramen noodles and it reminds me of my childhood. Yummy.

  51. Oh, one other good dish is, two rye breads, a cooked egg(not boiled) some onion. Slam between the breads and eat. That actually keeps you going for hours. (Its the rye, not the egg)

  52. Reminds me of a dish me & my roommates (geeks one and all) would make…..”Tuna Thang”. Microwave Mac & Cheese with a can of tuna stirred in, on toast.

    Hey, you should put your meal on toast…..everything’s better on toast….

  53. My family’s meal of last resort growing up was Ranch Stew: Brown a pound of ground beef (the cheapest variety is FINE). When the meat is good and cooked through, dump in a can of Franco-American spaghetti and a can of ranch-style beans (the ranch-style is very important, as the sauce they’re packed in makes this dish). Bring to a simmer. Serve with saltines and powdered Parmesan. Hot sauce optional.

  54. I would make stuff like that if terribly sick or depressed at home.

    However, I’m at work, just finished walking 900 meters to the store that does decent sandwiches, getting a small salad and a tuna on whole grain sandwich, and walking back. And now eating.

    I can be as lazy as the next guy, but the walking makes the food taste better, and the afternoon’s keyboards seem easier. And the combination is probably keeping my arteries a bit less crusty.

    Plus, there’s a good falafel shop up there as well, and a good Indian place, and…

  55. Reminds me of the idea of “Bachelor Chow” (now with flavour!) from Futurama…

    And a little too much of some of my own lunches.

  56. At least it looks like he chopped up the hot dogs with a knife.

    My partner and I once watched one of his roommates doing something similar, but his method was to bite the hot dogs into small pieces before nuking them.

    I survived many a radiation sandwich in my childhood though, so I don’t think I can judge.

  57. two words:
    sad :-D
    Ramen! ftw

    btw: yes I do have the cookbook “101 things to do with ramen”

  58. Looks like kibble for zombies: made from brain byproducts and bodily fluids from undead genemod herd animals.

  59. My husband will microwave melt cheese (any cheese he can get his hands on) on bread when I’m not around to fix dinner. If it’s too hot for that, he’ll eat cheese and crackers. Recently, he stopped at the store for his energy breakfast of choice, Pop-tarts, and got some canned ravioli with meat. When I got home late from work, I fixed myself chickpeas (I had cooked some a few days before) and cauliflower (steamed in the microwave) in a canned masala sauce that I had in the pantry with a whole wheat pita. We had plenty of husband friendly food in the house, too but he chose to purchase canned pasta. I’m chalking it up to a need for comfort food and/or shopping while hungry.

  60. I, too, was raised on top ramen with chopped hotdogs.

    And now I have an craving for Spam.

  61. Man, that looks even better than the English Muffin pizzas I had for lunch.

  62. Replace the American cheese with curry and I’d happily eat that. The takeaway store across the road from my workplace used to serve curried sausages – geez I missed having that for lunch. It’s the kind of stuff that’s bad for you but tastes so good.

  63. Uh, funny you should post that…when I got home tonight – and BEFORE I saw your post – I pulled hot dogs out of the freezed to thaw and have a box o’ Kraft Velveeta and shells boiling on the stove right now!

    And guess what my lunch will look like tomorrow??? Very similar to your photo, but with shells…ENJOY!!

  64. That makes my only-one-month-since-the-heart-attack heart hurt. Be nice to yourself…

  65. Wow. All right, I just have to say that I am from Ohio and I adore your books.




  66. Naw, I had hot dogs (heated w/hot water, bleah) and a PB&J sammich the other night when the power went out right before I was to start cooking dinner. It’s all electric here, so not much choice, even if there’d been enough daylight left. Melted cheese, even American “cheese”, would have been luxurious.

  67. Please tell me your significant other and your offspring fended for themselves?

  68. You know Scazi there’s some really awesome food groups you are totally neglecting here.

    Of course if you are working torwards a This is why you are fat.com type dish you need to increase the scale of it, and prehaps add (dum dum dum) bacon.

  69. You know, fine cuisine is all about saying it in French. Tell me that ‘Saucisses au fromage Américain à la Scalzi’ doesn’t sound like something you’d want to eat. Shit, the only thing John forgot was the sprig of parsley.

  70. I showed this to my husband when he got home because I just knew he’d be intrigued. Sure enough, he requested it for dinner, with the addition of two fried eggs on top. I made it with kosher hot dogs and thinly sliced cheddar instead of American, and it was an unqualified hit.

    Thanks, Scalzi. I’m going to be a heart attack widow before I’m 30. :P

  71. nerdycellist @78 Oh yes. Hotdog+smashed taters+Velveeta cheese is the nummy. I was going to suggest it if you hadn’t, in fact!

    You left off the final cooking instruction though–pop into toaster-oven and broil until cheese melts.

    But people who fry bologna in a skillet need their heads examined. All right thinking people know that it’s bologna+Miracle Whip+Wonder Bread!

    (My favorite comfort food: grilled Velveeta cheese sandwiches.)

  72. Please do not refer to Velveeta as cheese.

    My mom’s mac-and cheese recipe:
    Boil macaroni; drain and return to pot
    Pour milk in until you can just see the milk through the macaroni
    Cut a brick of Velveeta into chunks on top of mac and milk.
    Heat, stirring frequently, until gooey.

    Garnish with grated Cheddar and season with salt and pepper.

  73. Marko @ 95.

    My mom’s English muffin pizzas were the hit of almost every one of my or my sisters’ birthday parties from age four to ten. Other moms tried, but they were never as good. I don’t know what she did, but it was amazing.

  74. 100+ people talking about what sort of nasty they ate for lunch. Terrific.

    (Please note the third definition of “terrific” at this online dictionary. That is my intended use here.)

  75. Oh sure, 11:30 at night and now I’m hungry for a grilled cheese and salami sandwich.

  76. John@71,

    112 comments so far on your lunch versus 11 for the latest Big Idea. I’m not sure that you’re alone in your patheticness.

  77. Vile and disgusting. I actually shuddered. This is not a judgement upon you as a person, just your revolting eating patterns.

  78. georgmi @109 Ooo, gourmet mac&cheese!

    But, hey now, its full name is VELVEETA Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product. So, the word “cheese” is technically legal, being as how it’s a cheese-based product.

    It’s better than the cheapo knock-off products where the label reads “sandwich slices” without once even trying to claim it does anything more than visually resemble American Cheese Slices. Those things don’t even melt in the microwave, man. They just sort of…bend. *shudder*

  79. John @ 71. There may be an important writing lesson in this. (But you’ve already instinctively written to the rule.)

  80. “What drink are you having with this delicious meal?”

    A nice cup of hemlock comes to mind, but that would probably be redundant.

  81. Based on that photo, I’d wager you’d also enjoy poutine, a.k.a. Quebec’s gift to the world.

    1 Bag French fries (crispy)
    1 can BROWN Gravy
    1 lb (or so) Sqeaky Cheese Curds

    Life does not get any better.

  82. John, you need to go easy with that. Something that delectable certainly can get old quick. Here are a couple recipes I use when my wife lets me:

    1 box Mac & Cheese
    1/2 pound ground beef
    1/2 cup salsa

    Make the mac & cheese as normal and brown the ground beef. Toss the beef and salsa into the mac, stir and serve. My brother and I loved that as kids.

    2 packages Top Ramen
    1 can white meat chicken
    1 cup frozen peas or mixed veggies

    Pretty self explanatory, toss it all into a pot and cook until the noodles are done.

  83. Ewwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!

    I think you owe us a nice sunset picture now, preferably with a cat in it.

    Also: low-fat yoghurt. In case you wondered what I eat for lunch.

  84. Mmmm, ambrosia. Try mac & cheese with hot dog slices in it. The idea is revolting, but the result is appallingly palatable.

  85. Oh, and no homemade mac & cheese with real cheese or anything like that – gotta be a cheap box m&c. T’ain’t fittin’ otherwise.

  86. Don’t let James Lileks see this picture, or it’ll end up in his Gallery!

    Though I’m curious to know what he’d title it.

  87. This was considered a delicacy when I was a kid. We called them doggie treats. But the cheese is supposed to be neatly broken up into little squares and centered on each bite- the execution here, I’m afraid, lacks artistry.

  88. I am suddenly quite grateful for my lunch of chicken salad sandwich, baby bell mini cheese wheel ( love to play with the wax), black berries and apple.

    Also, don’t feed your hotdog/fake cheese monstrosity to your child (or the cats!). As the only adult home, you’ll have to clean up the results.

  89. Far cry from Kansas City, where minions went to get you junk food (M&Ms) and people gave you bacon & sausage together in one-heart-attack-waiting-to-happen platter…

  90. I’ve always thought that poutine was revolting, but as a Canadian married to an American guy who would likely think that this is comfort food, Canada’s bottom just acquired a new low.

    Of course, I like paunhawse, so I’m probably not one to talk.

  91. I’m with ya except for the American Cheese. That stuff tastes fake, and wrong.

  92. After your experience becoming the “king of all things bacon,” I’m a little surprised you’d risk posting such a provocative picture.

  93. Ahh yes – college food.

    In addition to the infamous chopped dog and noodles, here are two other recipes that take about 4 minutes to make:

    Egg & Hotdog Omelet:

    1, 2 or 3 eggs, 1 or 2 hotdogs – THINLY sliced
    (add veggies and seasonings to taste or availability)

    Bagle Dog
    One bagle cut in half – toaste if desired
    One hot dog
    Cut the hot dog lengthwise 3/4 of the way through
    Then score the hot dog width wise
    The hot dog will curl up and fit perfectly on the bagle

  94. You know what I found surprising about this entry? Out of all the comments, I think I only saw two that mentioned bacon (three, if you count this one).

  95. It is definitely missing one fundamental ingredient. Macaroni. Should be hot dogs and macaroni and cheese.

  96. @129 Wonder Bread (and its knockoffs) become foodlike when toasted, otherwise they’re just too squishy to be useful. At our house ‘bread’ is defined as ‘whatever kind is on sale at the bread thrift store this week, except that pasty white crap.”

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