Fumbling Through the Kitchen with Jonathan Ames

The guilt, grocery items and gastronomic habits of the author and comedian.

ames 1Edible Brooklyn paid a visit to Jonathan Ames, the brilliant, funny, oft-biting author of novels and comic memoirs, and found a man who is too hard on himself. Ames is the author of the novels I Pass Like Night, The Extra Man, and Wake Up, Sir!

, and the essay collections What’s Not to Love? and My Less Than Secret Life. He is the editor of Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs. His new book of essays, I Love You More Than You Know, was published in January. Ames is the winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a former columnist for the New York Press, a recurring guest on David Letterman, and seems to be working through some complex feelings of shame towards his refrigerator.

Try, Try Again
I eat to survive, not for pleasure. It’s good to have food around when I’m writing because I’ll drink a lot of coffee and get an empty pit in my stomach. That’s when I have bread and cheese.

I wish I would cook. I don’t order in, I’d rather go sit somewhere and read. I eat out unfortunately. Unfortunate because restaurants aren’t good for you. There’s bacteria and a lot of salt and fat. I don’t have a consistent place I go to. One place I go is Bar Tabac. I usually have a late breakfast and that’ll probably be all I eat for the whole day. Scrambled eggs. I think it’s better to cook for yourself. But I know not to make it a New Year’s resolution because I’d just fail.

Last night I had a late dinner after I performed. We went to Long Tan on 5th Avenue I had a flank steak with mashed potatoes and spinach. I didn’t even think about the E. coli thing. I didn’t feel good about eating steak because I think I should be vegetarian. It’s healthier for you and it’s better for the environment and the way they raise the animals is horrible. I ate it because I’m an idiot.

Today I had a late breakfast at NOHO Star. I had errands to run in Manhattan. I had organic eggs, home fries, fresh toast, and a glass of fresh OJ. It was a special.

I feel like the Italian foods of Carroll Gardens are very Brooklyn. The nice butcher places. There’s something still very rich and neighborly in certain parts of Brooklyn that’s maybe vanishing from Manhattan. These proprietors have a feel of individuality, it seems like Brooklyn will hold onto that a little longer. There’s something more human about it. Not all our interactions are corporate.

I moved here seven years ago as Smith Street restaurant madness was all beginning. I think there’s something sad about everything getting really slick. There’s a corner bodega being shut down I guess because the landlord could get more money. There was an old man who hung out there every day. I’ve noticed him for years, I’ve always admired his nice blue windbreaker. A tiny man, but elegant. That was his place, he just spent his days there drinking coffee. Recently I saw him in another bodega and asked him about the place that closed. He said it’s closed for good.

Coffee
The thing with me is that there’s no set pattern. The only thing I do consistently is drink coffee every day, two cups. This is a French press. I got it in June up at Yaddo, the artist colony in Saratoga Springs. A lot of days I just get coffees to go and survive on that. I put any leftover coffee in the fridge and heat it on the stove. Oh, look, here’s some in the bottom of a pot. It can’t be that old, it’s still liquid.

Throat Comfort Tea
I recently recorded several of my books for audiobooks. One book would take me three or four days of reading aloud for eight hours.
Vitamins
Looks like there’s some vitamins. Who knows when I bought them. I don’t know when I started or stopped taking them. Oh some are empty. I used to have a girlfriend living with me and things weren’t as bad. I don’t even know what’s in these cabinets. Looking in them is like looking at the relationship. I never threw this stuff out because I’m not a good cleaner. This is depressing. Just write, “He’s a slob, he’s a pig.”

Table with stuff on it
This table is pathetic. Is this cereal expired? Here’s a tin of cookies given to me in March. I’m not a sugar person. A partially-filled box of Emergen-C. I like this stuff. It gives me vitamin C. Sometimes I can feel it, you know, like a placebo. And all these sardines. I like to eat sardines on toast, I make that a few times a year. Somebody gave me this bottle of wine in France. I’m not gonna drink it. I’m on the wagon. I’ll give it away or wait until I’m off the wagon.

Holding bottle of vitamins
This is something that some guy at Perelandra convinced me to get. I like Perelandra. It appeals to the side of me that would like to shop in a more healthy way. My execution is poor but my belief in healthy eating is strong.

Almonds
I bought these almonds in California. Can almonds go bad?

Cookies in freezer
I ran into a celebrity on the street, I’m not gonna say who. This was in Manhattan. She was craving these cookies and I went with her to find them. They’re handmade, vegan, wheat-free, kosher, all-organic chocolate chip. She said to freeze them. I’m not that crazy about them. I put them in here in 2005.

Sea Vegetable Salad
I like seaweed. I probably thought, “I should get some seaweed.” It says, “ready in 10 minutes.” I probably had to put water on it and that overwhelmed me so I never made it.

Baseball thing on fridge
I’m a baseball fan. Yankees and Mets. I’m a bi fan. If there’s a Subway Series, I guess I’ll win either way.

Dave Letterman coffee mug
I got it when I was on the show. It was awesome. It was definitely a fun experience. I asked if I could take the mug. In fact I took two.

I usually like cream but naturally I don’t have any here because that would involve shopping. I occasionally have a spasm of shopping. When I do I go to Pacific Green on the corner of Pacific and Court. It’s probably overpriced. I hate waiting in line anywhere and there I don’t have to. I usually buy the following: Whole grain bread from a local baker. Camembert cheese. I really like that Greek yogurt. Blueberries, I really like blueberries. They make me feel so good, I’m like a bear. Sometimes carrots. I just eat them to try to help out my eyes which are weakened by staring at the computer. Sometimes olives. Sometimes bananas. Organic yogurt cheese. I put it on toast. I sometimes buy organic eggs but very rarely. I like eggs because they’re easy to cook. I fry them in butter. I like organic because in an ideal world I and other people would eat food not laced with chemicals. As I’ve gotten lazy I don’t even cook eggs anymore. We’re talking low prep here. Toast and frying eggs is about the extent of it.

Occasionally some pasta.

Whole Foods bag
Like most liberal retards I like Whole Foods. Who knows how much of that is real or not.

Cabinet over stove
I didn’t know any of that shit was up there. I might as well throw it out. I kind of feel a little bit depressed by this whole experience. It makes me look in the mirror. I see neglect and slovenliness and it’s embarrassing. You can write that down.

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