Stop being a sad sack with that iceberg bullshit. Yes it’s cheap and crunchy but it’s also colorless and useless from a nutritional standpoint. At least upgrade to Romaine lettuce, but also explore the spring mixes, the Boston lettuces (gorgeous, and BOMB on burgers and perfect for lettuce wraps), the Bibb lettuces, and the sweet & crunchy blends. It’s a big wide lettuce world out there, my friend. And most of them now come pre-chopped and pre-washed in bags, making it truly convenient for even the laziest among us.
Speaking of greens, if you enjoy a standard spinach salad on the reg or often stir it into soups for an extra nutritional boost, give arugula a try instead. Also known as rucola or rocket, this peppery green has a visually interesting shape and a sharper flavor than most lettuces. One of the simplest and most sophisticated salads you can throw together is a pile of arugula leaves sprinkled with pine nuts and freshly grated Parmesan, tossed with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. SEXY. (Also incredibly delicious tossed with a bit of Parma ham, burrata cheese, olive oil, and S & P.)
And while we’re at it, PLEASE for the love of god stop using that powdered stuff in the green canister for serious food. It’s fine for the childhood dish of buttered noodles but when it comes to chic salads, pastas, or basically anything else, buy a wedge of the good fresh stuff (the best comes from Italy of course) and grate or shave it fresh. You’ll be amazed at the difference, and it keeps in the fridge forever when wrapped tightly in clingfilm.
Since I’m on a roll here, who likes mozzarella? Everyone. If you don’t like mozz it’s probably because you’ve been eating the wrong kind, and by that I mean: cow’s milk. Did you know that mozzarella was (and still is, in Italy) originally made from the milk of water buffaloes? HOLY SHIT what a difference it makes.
Buffalo mozzarella (or mozzarella di bufala) is definitely harder to find than the bovine variety but I’ve found it in some Publixes in the south, Trader Joe’s up north, Whole Foods sporadically, Wegman’s regularly, and at Dean & Deluca. Most local private cheese shops will also special order it for you if you ask nicely.
(Sidenote: All that said, I'm going to ruin your life with some utterly bizarre buffalo mozzarella news. Click here.)
First of all, why is Vlasic’s spokes-animal a stork? What do storks have to do with pickles? Anyway it doesn’t matter because Vlasic pickles in all their gray-green glory are the absolute worst, and you should be eating Claussen pickles instead. Look for them in the refrigerated section, usually by the cold cuts because they’re cold cured and never heated so the cukes retain their INCREDIBLE crunch. No, I’m not being paid by Claussen to say this, so, ey-yooooo, if they felt like hooking me up with a lifetime supply I would be totally down with that, you’re welcome Claussen.
Oh, and pickles are fucking cucumbers, by the way. I recently had to explain that fact to a grown man. They are pickled cucumbers. Bye.
And now to round out the list, two of the absolute basics:
Nothing says “I am still a freshman in college” louder than a bag of spongey soft white nothing bread. As a grown ass adult you should know by now that it holds absolutely no nutritional value for you, but if you still refuse to go the multi or whole grain route at least switch it up with some other, more interesting white breads: sourdough, Tuscan pane, French baguette, ciabatta, and boule come to mind. Oh, and don’t keep bread in the fridge. I’ve never understood why people do this, but it dries it out more quickly.
If you’re a die-hard butter lover (as opposed to the chemical shitstorm known as margarine, which NO ONE should be eating), try upgrading from your usual sticks or tub to Kerrygold Irish Butter. Oh baby. Oh YEAH BABY. This stuff is GOLD, so I get the name. I swear it’s unlike any other butter I’ve ever tried. Sweet and salty and rich and creamy with no lardy or oily aftertaste it is my Achilles heel, and spread onto warm crusty French bread it is absolute nirvana.
This article has to end now because I’ve drooled all over my keyboard so much it’s starting to make weird sparking noises, but go forth you sexy and sophisticated ladies and gents! First the fridge, then the world.
This has been reprinted with permission from an article I wrote for the rad folks over at The Magnifier, a division of VaynerMedia.
Update 2018: Regrettably, The Magnifier no longer exists.