What I Eat

Meet the Author Whose Favorite Food Category Is Takeout

What is she gonna do, make her own General Tso’s?

Samantha Irby
Published in
5 min readJun 7, 2019

I’m sure this is the kind of essay where you expect to find a picture of me casually standing in my sun-dappled kitchen, a woven basket full of my farmer’s market bounty propped against my hip as I lean seductively on my impeccable farmhouse sink, fully hydrated and ready to pass a firm, fiber-enriched stool.

And then I’d write about how every morning I pluck a persimmon from the tree in my yard for breakfast. Then I’d tell you about my three-course organic lunch while listening to a podcast about the news, before finishing my day at a restaurant you’ve never heard of, drinking wine that could pay your kid’s preschool tuition.

Dude, that’s intimidating. The last thing I need to feel while sprinkling crushed Bugles over a room-temperature Lean Cuisine and reading a fancy-food article online is worse; the carcinogens in my gas station corn dog are making me feel bad enough. But I promise I’m not that kind of guy! I don’t know how to say “endive” and I have a Dorito-ranking spreadsheet! (For the record: Poppin’ Jalapeño, a flavor that is embarrassing to say and even moreso to write, is the reigning queen.)

So this won’t be that. There’s never going to be anything in my fridge that I would be embarrassed to pronounce in front of a smart person. You know what is in there? Tallboys of Diet Coke and various cartons of half-used, non-dairy milks I can’t help but buy because of the novelty of it all.

I want you to think I care about being healthy, so here’s where I admit to you that I love a bagged salad. I grew up poor, on box mixes and bagged cereal: Why we are supposed to make believe that convenience isn’t 99 percent of what we want in life? OK, fine. You want me to eat a wide variety of greens every single day and pretend that I enjoy it? I can do that, but I need you to sort the leaves and wash the dirt off them, please. I can’t tell lettuces apart! Just have a machine cut it up for me and rinse the E. coli off — a task for which I will gladly pay the extra dollar or whatever it costs.

Sometimes I can tell a lettuce from a cabbage, but you know what? Other times I absolutely cannot…