Secrets of the Amateur Gourmet

[Here’s a bonus guest post, written my friend and cat-sitter, Travis Sentell, who stayed in my apartment for the two weeks I was in Barcelona. Here’s what he uncovered.]

In the interest of time, honesty and full-disclosure, I’d like to publicly identify here at the outset as “food ignorant.” Not in the way that many of you may identify, and certainly not in the way that Adam himself might identify (after a hefty glass of Riunite D’oro), but rather, in a deep-seated “I only make eggs” way. And not even good eggs. Just, you know, eggs. Sometimes with toast.

But I AM qualified to post here for one extremely specific reason—I have spent the last 15 days living alone in the apartment of the Amateur Gourmet. Ladies (and gentlemen), wipe your chins, calm your jealousy, settle. During these exciting two weeks, I learned a great deal about cat hair, food, and myself, but I’d like to forgo all of that and cut right to the heart of the matter, the question we’ve all been asking ourselves—what exactly does the Amateur Gourmet have in his apartment? What twisted food products lurk ‘neath his salad crispers, what strange pots grace his range? I thought we could all learn from how a real chef stocks his fridge, cabinets and spice rack. So read on, Peeping Toms!

Now, there are certain things you expect to find in a self-proclaimed foodie’s kitchen, such as exotic vegetables, cartons labeled in foreign languages, and eight distinct types of unrecognizable marmalade. To be sure, Adam has all of these things:

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but let me begin with what he DOES NOT have. Like any red-blooded vegetarian American, I started my NYC trip with a supermarket run. At said supermarket, I purchased the following items: grapes, apples, cheese, fake ham, bread, orange juice, cereal, milk, peanuts, hummus, baby carrots and a S*&T-TON of microwaveable lunch options. I arrived back at the apartment (walking instead of driving, for all of you Los Angeles readers—it was horrifically strange) and pulled out the vegan version of a Hot Pocket… only to find that Adam apparently doesn’t believe in irradiated food, comfort, or the twentieth century. Maybe all three. Regular readers of the blog may have suspected this, but I can hereby confirm that the Amateur Gourmet DOES NOT HAVE A MICROWAVE. But he does have a week’s supply of frozen vegetarian lunch options.

Possibly even more shocking than his Luddite tendencies are the items that Adam deems necessary essentials for any true gourmet’s kitchen. Let’s start with the spice rack.

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What I learned here is that America grows crappy spices. Paprika should be purchased from Spain, Allspice (whatever that is… a deodorant?) should only be imported from Jamaica, and whole cloves MUST be shipped in from the distant island of Madagascar. Why? Never argue with a gourmet, my friends. If you absolutely HAVE to buy American spices, please make sure they’re from San Francisco.

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There are a number of other necessities for any aspiring chef’s kitchen. Before we get to the… “strange items” I discovered, let’s talk about the basics. Take notes.

At least two big-ass jars of mayonnaise…


at least two big-ass bottles of olive oil…

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some healthy drinking options…


a coffee mug full of garlic…


and a full jar of plastic babies.

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Once you’ve rounded up all of these various necessities, you can begin to become a bit more experimental. Take this for example:

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What the hell is this? I want to point out that Adam does NOT have normal butter in his fridge. He has “Black Truffle Foie Gras Butter” in what looks like a hummus container. To a non-foodie, this is simply horrifying. I did NOT put this butter on my toast, even though it was burnt. Maybe I’m a coward. And look at this thing:

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This is NOT MEAT. This is CHEESE. I repeat, this thing is CHEESE! I won’t even buy non-pre-sliced cheese because of the work involved. Real gourmets, however, only purchase their cheese products in log form. Incredible.

I also found these:




I know, I know… some of you are asking “Why would anyone want to puree sesame seeds?” or “Why would Ahmed pickle a mango, and why the heck would anyone buy it?” or simply “Raw Curry Sauerkraut??? REALLY??” Trust me. I had the same questions. That is, until I found THESE:




I don’t know what the first two things are, but I understand the expression on Lolita’s face. If I was cat and I was stuck in a fridge with a confusing Chilean fruit or Pork-Free Duck Pate du Perigord, I’d be pissed too. And what is the precise culinary benefit of chilling your feline? Oh, the mysteries of the Gourmet!!

Lastly, I found this:


No one knows what this is. No one WANTS to know what this is. Suffice it to say that it smelled of an earthy musk and doubtlessly represents culinary perfection of the highest degree. Some questions simply don’t have good answers, ladies and gentlemen.

And there you have it – an unfettered tour through the kitchen of a true gourmet. It was an enlightening, inspiring two weeks, and I hope you learned as much about REAL cooking as I did. I think it’s fair to say that we all have a LOT of work to do. So toss those microwaves, buy some truffle butter, and throw a cat in your freezer… you too can be an AMATEUR GOURMET!

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