meal twenty-seven: rojo onion rings, roasted acorn squash with turkey sausage, peppers, and goat cheese, holla 4 chicken marsala

[Allie: Please welcome another guest writer to the blog! Sarah is our friend from college, and we made her eat nonsense garbage food. We are bad friends.]

Sarah: I feel like I should start this with a confession: I think that I’m the person to blame for Chris and Allie’s initial meeting, and therefore their friendship, and therefore, this blog. If I would have known ten years ago in college that bringing groups of friends together would mean many hours of bad puns and probably raised cholesterol levels past the point of reversal, perhaps I would have done things differently. But we’ll never know. I am so sorry to everyone that I’ve hurt, and to all the cabbage in Chicago that has been martyred for this weird experiment.

Anyway, I was coming to Chicago for Thanksgiving to see my family and eat food that is good, and was planning on staying with Chris and Becca (the wife) for a few days. I remember I explicitly asked if this meant I would have to eat Guy Fieri food, but honestly I forgot the answer because I really needed a place to crash. So I wish I could say I was excited to be a guest on this blog, but that would be disingenuous. I knew this would be bad and unlike friend of the blog Heather, I came into this with a very closed mind. I had a brief moment of optimism after I chose these recipes -- how bad could Guy Fieri really mess up onion rings, a standard chicken marsala, and squash, which you literally just cut and roast? Reader, you are not going to believe this, but: a lot.

My overall experience can be described in the wise words of Chris, who said to me the morning after we ate this food, “Wow, that food really did not sit well with me last night. Anyway your turn to use the bathroom.”

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Sarah: I love squash and it is autumn so I had the highest expectations for the acorn squash recipe, and I chose it because it seemed like the only thing left that had some semblance of vegetables -- and as an Adult Person who also ate a lot of deep dish pizza while in Chicago, I thought this would be a healthy option. Obviously this was misguided, because within these seasonal, fresh acorn squash halves we were forced to include all this other shit that made it taste more like an Italian sausage sub that was trying to be low-carb. Maybe it was because Allie fondled the sausage in a way I'd like to forget or because Chris, for an inexplicable reason, bought goat cheese that was so infused with pepper that it’s all I could taste, but I didn’t finish this one.

I will also say that this is the only recipe I’ve ever read that had a confusing personal story WITHIN the instructions. After roasting the squash seeds, we were told to sprinkle them with sea salt and keep a close eye on them because his sons named Hunter and Ryder (????) like to steal and eat them. Uh, I’m sorry, in addition to being forced to make this food, I have to watch out for small children with frosted tips and sunglasses on the back of their necks running through this kitchen???? This experience is a personal nightmare. Sarah's rating: 2 out of 5 of Guy Fieri’s children... I don’t know how many he has but honestly any nonzero sum is horrifying to me.

Allie: Chris has been looking forward to making this recipe since we started the blog, which was a surefire guarantee that it wasn't going to be good, because being enthusiastic about one of these recipes is truly a kiss of death. Anyway, this was weird and peppery, but on the other hand, it also had a lot of flavors and textures jammed together in a way that I did not find appealing. The "best" part was when we tried to roast the squash seeds and they literally started exploding and whizzing around the oven. So I guess I don't recommend this recipe if you want something good to eat for dinner, but I definitely recommend this recipe if you're looking to re-enact the beginning of Saving Private Ryan with seasonal fresh produce. Allie's rating: 2 out of 5 squash seeds we found in Chris's broiler two weeks after cooking this

Chris: No one mentioned that this recipe called for homemade turkey sausage, which took 24-48 hours to make. We noped right out of that and just bought turkey sausage from the store. You might think that could be to blame for the overall shittiness of this dinner, but it was actually the best part. If I was a food network dot com commentator who wanted to be helpful and improve this dish, I would say "Instead of homemade sausage, I used store bought, and instead of everything else, I had nothing. It was delicious." Anyway this sausage was delicious. The squash nugget things were fine. Guy seriously hyped how good the seeds were gonna be but they were also just fine. Basically, this whole dish was less than the sum of its parts, which is pretty impressive, all things considered. Chris's rating: 2.5 out of 5 delicious store bought turkey sausages

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Sarah: Then we made rojo onion rings. I was put in charge of the easiest job on this one, which was to mix together the unholy amounts of the ketchup, hot sauce, and garlic powder mixture that coats the onions. Together, this looked like something the devil would throw up after an all-night bender but, as Allie and Chris told me, it wasn’t even remotely the most disgusting marinade they’ve had to make for this blog. I am so worried about my friends.

These onion rings were actually not terrible, mostly because they were fried and I’d probably eat garbage if it was breaded. There wasn’t much heat coming from them but the ketchup definitely came through, which was fine but also gave them the taste that someone pre-dipped your onion ring, left it sitting for a while, and then forced you to eat it. Either way I ate several of them, proving they were okay and/or I am a trash person. Sarah's rating: 4 out of 5 all night devil benders

Allie: Look, I give Guy Fieri a lot of shit, but I have to hand it to him: this was a good onion ring recipe. He had us coat the onion rings in batter and breadcrumbs and let them sit in the fridge for 20 minutes before frying them; I thought this would make the onion rings soggy and more likely to fall apart in the oil, but instead they held up very nicely. It was like the time I got drunk before watching Titanic: I thought it would make me weepy and emotional, but instead it made me tired and I fell asleep well before the iceberg even came into play, thus allowing me to remain in a stable emotional state. That is just one of the many ways I am like an onion ring. The flavoring on these was fine, but just like when I eat salads, I found myself wishing that I was eating a plain onion ring that I could dip into ketchup by myself. Anyway, I took a bunch of these home and the next day I ate them cold out of the fridge because I don't have a microwave and then my stomach hurt later that day for some reason. Allie's rating: 4 out of 5 reasons to buy a microwave

Chris: I don't really like onion rings that much. If I'm noshing on an app sampler, it's definitely the last thing I eat. It's basically a vegetable that's masquerading as a snack. I especially don't like onion rings that need to be assembled in like forty carefully timed steps like IKEA furniture. But when I make IKEA furniture, I don't often get scalded by hot oil for 20 minutes. I mean, sometimes I do, but not often. Anyway, these were fine. They were pretty crispy. They weren't that red. The ketchup-y marinade we made was pointless (much like this blog #selfburn). They basically just tasted like onion rings. Is that a win? Are my standards that low? Yea, I guess they are. Chris's rating: 3.5 out 5 low standards.

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Sarah: Finally, we made Holla 4 Chicken Marsala. My favorite part of this recipe was that I got to pound the chicken thighs using a meat tenderizer, which really freed a lot of my rage. We should all get to hammer things more. We should not all get to eat this marsala more, though, because it had so much butter and wine in it -- usually two things that there can NEVER be enough of -- that it was kind of slimy and the sauce separated on my plate. But given that I was so zen after beating the chicken and my anxieties away, I ate more of this than I care to admit. Sarah's rating: 3.5 out of 5 meat hammers

Allie: I think what bothers me most about the name of this recipe is how lazy it is. Am I supposed to holla 4 chicken marsala? Is this chicken marsala so good I want to holla 4 it? If I holla 4 or at chicken marsala, who or what will respond? Guy Fieri's idea of a joke appears to be: some words rhyme with other words, and it's funny when rhymes happen. When he learns what songs are, he is going to lose his goddamn mind. Like Sarah said, this chicken was slimy. I mean, look at the picture. It's one sticky bird away from being a candid shot of the BP oil spill. It tasted... fine, but it was too oily (FOR ME, and if I were a Star Wars character, I would be the trash compactor), and the Marsala overwhelmed the mushrooms instead of complementing them. Maybe this dish should have been called "Sit quietly and ponder 4 chicken marsala". Allie's rating: 3 out of 5 slimy lil birds

Chris: I tried to make a shopping list for this dinner quickly before work and I ended up scribbling it quickly on a scrap of paper. And my handwriting is generally pretty illegible, but writing a shopping list quickly on my thigh while still half asleep really pushed it into drunk doctor with Parkinson's territory. Anyway, I wrote down as one of the things to buy as "Wanda Gravy." So I'm at the store later, and I'm in the gravy section and they DO NOT have Wanda Gravy. So I try googling Wanda Gravy, and I don't see any results, but there is a woman named Wanda Gravy on Facebook who lives in Florida. I wish I was doing this blog with her instead of Allie. Anyway, I couldn't find Wanda Gravy, so I got regular brown gravy. Then, I was in the bread crumb aisle later and they had WONDRA FLOUR, and I realized that's what I meant to write! There's no such thing as Wanda Gravy! Well, there is but she's a lady in Florida! In conclusion, the moral of this story is I'm leaving my wife and save the date for Wanda's and my wedding. Make sure you respond whether you want the Chicken Marsala or the vegetarian dish which is acorn squash LOADED WITH MEAT.

This chicken marsala was really bad. You may be thinking, "how can you mess up chicken marsala??" It's pretty hard to do, but I think if you follow the exact steps in Guy's recipe, you can do it. I believe in you! The sauce was weird. It tasted super brown. You couldn't even taste the Wanda Gravy in it. I kept trying to pour Allie a glass of Marsala wine as a hilarious joke but she did not think it was funny. That's a lie, actually. I kept trying to pour Allie a glass of marsala wine because we finished our box of wine before we even started cooking but Allie said you can't drink it--it's just for cooking. Maybe that's the problem with this recipe. If you have wine that's poison when drunk alone, maybe it's not the best thing to base a recipe around. Chris's rating: 2 out of 5 refreshing glasses of delicious Wanda Gravy.

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Final Summary:

Total recipes made: 74/157

Worst sentence from one of these recipes: "Watch out--this is when Hunter and Ryder cruise through and steal the seeds."

What I would do if Guy Fieri's children magically appeared while I was cooking squash: call Child Services

Chris: Truly, the most satisfying thing about having guest bloggers is that when some smart ass says "How do you know the food isn't secretly good and you're just bad at cooking??" I can point to these posts and say I HAVE PROOF.

Allie: Yeah but the most infuriating thing is that we have to say that ALL the time because if there's one thing this blog has taught me it's that NO ONE thinks we're good cooks

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meal twenty-six: red rocker margarita chicken, bomb bakers

Chris: It takes a big man to admit when he's wrong. A big, smart, handsome, well-liked man. And ladies and gentlemen, I am that man. We had been dreading these two recipes for a while for different reasons, but they were both really solid. Neither were the best, but when you set yourself up to expect to have to eat a turd, but then that turd turns out to actually be chocolate, it's a lot better than the reverse. This was just basically a pleasant experience from start to finish. The recipes were really easy to make, didn't require much prep, and were tasty. I really don't know what Guy was thinking. He probably knew these posts are way harder to write when you actually enjoyed the food.

Usually, we try to make at least three meals a night as not to fall further behind pace, which brings us to our one big road block for the night. I tried to buy the ingredients for Rhode Island Calamari, which I know sounds like the street name for SUPERMETH, but was unsuccessful. Surprisingly, there is no fresh calamari in Chicago in November. This was probably for the best because my High School Reunion is this weekend and I can't let my life sink much lower or I'll have to just start pulling my pants down for money on the L.

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Chris: First, we made the Red Rocker Margarita Chicken. This recipe had all the building blocks of a classic Fieri Blandwich #FlavorFrown. It started with a page-long story about a time he met Sammy Hagar? Steven Tyler? Chuck E Cheese from the Pizza Time Players? I honestly can't remember and ALLIE STOLE THE COOKBOOK [Allie: this is... not correct]. Anyway, STRIKE ONE. It also required us to marinate chicken breasts in the world's cheapest tequila. Like, when you open this tequila, it smells like you're going to sterilize before a medical procedure. STRIKE TWO. It also required me to deep-fry roasted red peppers, and despite what my LinkedIn profile says, that is not one of my skills, so I was constantly being splashed by hot oil. STRIKE THREE. Also, Guy topped this sandwich with cabbage instead of lettuce, which was really the final insult. Like when your boss calls you into her office to yell at you, and she doesn't just yell at you, but also makes you eat cabbage. STRIKE FOUR. And you know how the saying goes, four strikes, and you have indigestion.

But, but...this was good. We grilled it up, and the meat was tender, if not particularly flavorful. The red peppers were crispy and added good texture. Really, this whole sandwich wasn't really remarkable, but it tasted like a good grilled chicken sandwich. Also, we are almost out of terrible tequila, so double win. Chris's rating: 4 out of 5 members of the Pizza Time players (Chuck E., Mr. Munch, Jasper T. Jowls, Pasqually E. Pieplate, but not Helen Henny because this is a FOUR OUT OF FIVE).

Allie: Yeah, this sandwich was pretty good. Tequila-drenched chicken definitely sounds like something you'd fish out of a Florida swamp, or maybe even find holding elected office in Florida, but the chicken was bland enough that the tequila wasn't an issue, which was good for my taste buds but bad for the tight five I'm trying to write about Florida. The red peppers were good and added a nice touch of sweetness, but I thought that deep-frying them was pretty labor-intensive for a weeknight chicken sandwich. Then again, I have been known to eat my meals directly over the sink so I don't have to wash an extra plate, so I might not be the best barometer of what is and isn't labor-intensive. My biggest issue with this sandwich was the cabbage, which was hard like knives. Guy insists on putting cabbage in everything and it is BAFFLING why he refuses to use lettuce, which is pleasantly crunchy and bland, in favor of using cabbage, which, again, is HARD LIKE KNIVES. Anyway, this was the best sandwich I've ever had that was inspired by a man's friendship with Sammy Hagar; make of that what you will. Allie's rating: 4 out of 5 red flags that Chris knows all the Chuck E. Cheese robots

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Chris: Then we made Bomb Bakers, which I've been calling "Lil' Poop Nuggets", to everyone's, including my, confusion. As you may recall for you all you Brimstone heads, we have tried to make this recipe before. They are baked potatoes in everything but name. But despite baked potatoes generally being a recipe you make when you need a quick weeknight side, these take SIX TO TWENTY-FOUR HOURS of brining before they can be cooked. So, I had to come home from work at lunch and soak potatoes in water and spices like I was performing the world's saddest third grade science project. Anyway, I had to cook these for like an hour and I was pretty annoyed when I took these out of the oven. But honestly, they were basically the best baked potatoes I have ever had. That's a pretty low bar, because baked potatoes are generally terrible, and need toppings to make them good, but these were good. The inside was super soft. The skin was super flaky and delicious. Honestly, I might make these again. I won't, because I have PTSD, but maybe after sufficient therapy... Chris's rating: 4.5 out of 5 Lil' Point Nuggets.

Allie: One thing I've learned as an adult is that people who like cooking get really touchy about brining and everything they make has to be drowned in salty water for 24 hours before it's cooked, like it's not Thanksgiving until you've re-enacted The Poseidon Adventure with your turkey starring as Gene Hackman. I mean, it's good, but calm down, folks. Brining these potatoes made them nice and moist, but I didn't feel like I was roaring through Flavortown in a red Camaro. Instead, I kind of felt like I was peddling through Flavorville (a suburb of Flavortown; it's mostly commuters and angry teens) on a child's bicycle. I am struggling to find any more ways to describe these potatoes, which were fine. In order to write this paragraph, I had to google "movies where people drown", which felt pretty dark and is probably going to give me weird targeted ads for lifejackets and rowboats on Facebook, so thanks, Guy Fieri (yes this is his fault)!!! Allie's rating: 3.5 out of 5 swimfans (swimsfan?)

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Final Summary

Total dishes made: 71/157

Worst sentence in one of these recipes: "I commented, 'I'm going to be forty, and I can't believe it; it doesn't make mathematical sense to me.' He responded, 'Listen to me, Guy.' (Everything he says sounds like a rocker.) 'There's no way you thought you'd be rolling into forty like you're rolling now.' Which is, of course, so true."

Number of showings of Titantic on AMC I watched while writing this post: 1.25

Chris: That's two meals in a row that we basically liked. A turning point? Or just a pit stop on the way to the glue factory?

Allie: Yes, by the time this blog is over, my body will only be useful for being turned into glue and toothbrush bristles

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meal twenty-five: chicago italian beef sandwich with hot italian giardiniera, chicago beef pizza, peach and blueberry pizza

Allie: I know this is becoming a common theme in this blog, but I was truly dreading this meal. Since I moved to Chicago, I've been putting off eating a lot of Italian beef sandwiches. I think it's because I know once I start eating them, I may never stop? For example, I live next door to a hot dog restaurant, and sometimes when I leave my apartment to run an errand or go see a friend my mind goes blank and I wake up a few minutes later in the hot dog restaurant, eating a hot dog. It's like Memento, except instead of tattoos it's hot dogs and instead of my wife's murder it's also hot dogs. Anyway, the point is that I like meat-based sandwiches and I really didn't want my first Italian beef experience in Chicago to be ruined by Guy Fieri, which I think is a totally reasonable emotion to have.

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Allie: So we made Guy's Italian beef sandwiches. Here's the thing: they were delicious. The meat was well-seasoned, and the gravy was tasty. When Chris gave me a little ziploc bag full of hot leftover meat and gravy to take home, I was the happiest girl in the world. I also got to have a fun conversation with my Lyft driver when he said "It smells like meat in here" and I said "I have a bag of meat" and then we drove to my home in silence! So that's my verdict on the sandwich: it tasted very good, and it helped me establish a lifelong connection with a Lyft driver.

Here are my two grievances with the recipe. One: it's kind of pointless to make an Italian beef sandwich when you live in Chicago and could go get a better version that wouldn't require four hours of prep time. I also think that most sandwiches taste best when they're made by genuinely very mean old people, because their spite makes the meat more tender and flavorful, and everyone in Chicago is a very mean old person, so the sandwiches here are generally pretty good. Second: the story behind this recipe is an entire page in which Guy describes, in graphic detail, the time he went to an airport, ate an Italian beef sandwich, loved it, ordered another, and ate it on the plane. Can someone please get Guy into the Moth or enroll him in a storytelling workshop or something? I've read greeting cards with stronger narratives. The only thing I took away from it is that Guy once ate a hot, gravy-based sandwich on an airplane; if my life were a Liam Neeson-esque revenge thriller, that would be the opening scene, and then I would just spend the rest of the movie fighting my way to the front of the plane to yell at him. Allie's rating: 4 out of 5 bags o' gravy

Chris: I was very suspicious of Guy Fieri’s ability to make Italian beef. Like saying “the Chicago skyline is actually better than New York’s” and “the murder rate isn’t actually that high when you take population into account,” Italian Beef sandwiches are a major part of most Chicagoans' DNA. How could Guy Fieri, a man who has found a way to ruin PIZZA, possibly make a decent Italian beef? It’s not that I’m sanctimonious about the authenticity of Italian Beef—I’m just as happy with a sandwich at one of the big Chicago chains as I am at the hot dog stand around the corner. But how could Guy, a sunburned Sugar Ray reject from CALIFORNIA, possibly make a decent Italian Beef sandwich? Well, folks, I’m here to eat serious crow.

This was really good. I’ve never made Italian beef before, because it’s super easy to go buy one at literally any restaurant and it costs like five dollars and it’s delicious. Well, Guy wanted us to make our own Italian giardinera (which is spicy peppers and other veggies soaked in vinegar) (also how do you spell it? I’m gonna try to spell it differently every time I type it). It required over 35 ingredients, a canning kit, and 3 days to sit in the fridge. I guess if you live outside Chicago and you can’t find it at the store, you could make it, but there was literally an entire shelf of different varieties at our grocery store. And this was a grocery store that did not have papaya. Look, I wasn’t about to spend every waking moment of three days making homemade Giadienera. It’s like Guy wanted us to not just watch Dunston Checks In, but to recreate the entire film scene by scene, even though it is available on Amazon Prime for $2.99. So I gave Guy the finger, and bought store-bought jar-dinerra. To be fair, he did say that was an option in the recipe. Anyway, this was really good. It was reasonably easy to make, but it did take a long time to marinate. Without a proper meat slicer, it was hard to get the meat super-thin like I like it for these sandwiches, but this was still really good. The only other disappointment is that Allie didn’t eat her Ziploc bag full of meat by cutting the corner and shotgunning it like a Keystone Light. Chris’s Rating: 5 out of 5 Italian beef capri suns.

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Allie: We also made Italian beef pizza, because Chris extracted a tiny hunk of frozen pizza dough from the back of his freezer and we decided to turn it into pizza. It was just like in Jurassic Park when they extracted the DNA from amber to make dinosaurs! I thought this was going to be a real Jurassic Park situation in that I was going to accuse Guy Fieri of being so excited that he COULD put Italian beef on a pizza that he didn't stop to think about whether he SHOULD. Instead, this was like Jurassic Park in that I was proven wrong, and this pizza was pretty good. Also, Chris was mauled by raptors. The sauce was kind of horseradish-y, but the meat and the cheese and the spice all went together well and it didn't make me want to devour a man sitting on a toilet in the rainforest. Allie's rating: 4 out of 5 pizza raptors. is that even a pun? boy, i'm tired

Chris: This pizza was incredibly inoffensive. It was basically a Nancy Meyers movie, except no one redid my kitchen. We slapped some of the Italian beef we made earlier on a pizza crust we had made months ago. We mixed in some sauce that was white for some reason, added cheese, and bam! We had a tasty pizza that looked pretty stupid, but tasted slightly above stupid. The crust had been sitting in the back of the freezer for like five months so it had definitely lost a fair amount of umpf. Efforts to reinsert some umpf were only moderately successful. Chris’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 amounts of umpf

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Allie: Finally, we made peach and blueberry pizza. Look, there's gonna be a real tonal shift here. I have really just fucking had it up to here with Guy Fieri and his dessert pizzas. There's something so fundamentally unappealing about biting into a mouthful of soft peaches and blueberries and then reaching a layer of stiff, chewy, savory pizza dough. COULD THIS NOT HAVE BEEN A COBBLER?? Why must everything be a PIZZA? Why did we have to top this with PISTACHIOS? Who heard Guy say, "I'm going to top this DESSERT PIZZA with PISTACHIOS" and just LET IT HAPPEN?? The "sauce" was mostly hot cream cheese. I literally ate one bite of this and then refused to eat any more because it tasted bad. It was soggy and tough at the same time, like carpet soaked in gasoline. That is what this pizza tasted like and that is why I hated it. Allie's rating: 1 out of 5 pistachi-nos

Chris: This looked like it would be dumb from the photo. I read the recipe and thought “this will probably taste dumb.” When I took it out of the oven: Yup, still looked dumb. I ate it and it tasted dumb. Chris’s rating: 1 out of 5 dumbs

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Final Summary

Total dishes made: 69/157

Worst sentence in one of these recipes: "I thought I was going to die." It's like Guy reached into my soul right then.

Injury report: Chris grabbed the pan that had been in the oven for 2 hours and gave himself a second-degree burn. This project may literally kill him

Chris: One time my wife was visiting when we were doing long distance and we went out for Italian beefs the night before. She didn’t finish hers so she took half home. When I woke up in the morning, I noticed she smelled like Italian Beef. She had woken up at like 6am, went to the kitchen, and ate half an Italian beef. And she thought I wouldn’t notice. But I did notice, because I have the world’s worst super power—the ability to detect whether someone has recently eaten Italian beef.

Allie: I ate my leftover Italian beef out of a ziploc bag while talking to a plant, because I have the world's best superpower... crippling loneliness

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meal twenty-four: buffalo balls, yakitori chicken, green papaya salad and lemongrass chicken, chili sauce

Wife: While perusing the many posts of this blog and chuckling to yourself at the misery Chris and Allie are in, you may have said to yourself “Who is this wife that we keep hearing about? Who lets Chris and Allie get into crazy antics such as this? I wonder what her life is like”. Well, dear readers, I am that wife. And I’m ready to tell my story. 

Many moons ago, Allie lived very far away in a land called California. To stay connected, Chris and Allie would come up with crazy ideas that they could churn into a blog, a podcast, whatever. One of these ideas was creating a Guy Fieri blog in the likes of Julie & Julia. At the time I thought it was a really funny idea, but it was mostly in theory since I knew Allie lived far away and it probably wouldn’t pan out. Little did I know, Allie would decide to move to Chicago a few months later. I was so excited for her to live in Chicago! We would hang out all the time! Little did I know what I would be in for. 

The fear started to set in when Allie came over one day after she was all settled into her new apartment and they started counting how many recipes they would need to cook in 1 year to complete the book. And it got worse when I saw how complicated the recipes were. When I let my concerns be known, Chris said to me “You should have known when you married me that you would have to watch me create a blog where I cook terrible Guy Fieri food each week for a year.” I sighed, and ceded that he was right. After 10 years of dating even before we tied the knot, I knew what I had signed up for. 

As with marriage, my job in this blog has mostly become the role of supporter and encourager. And not just for Chris. It’s like when I got married I started playing a game of Jumanji, but when I opened the box my kitchen turned into a weird crazy jungle full of dirty dishes and bats and then a feral bearded person came running at me and it turned out to be Allie and she never left my apartment and now we are married. I’m the one who says to them, “Hey, it’s 7:30pm and you guys haven’t started cooking. I’m going to eat my hand soon, so can you please get this going?” Or when they lie on the couch defeated, I’m the one who picks up the recipe book and says “this recipe doesn’t look too bad, why don’t you try this one next?” Allie has told me repeatedly that this blog would have died long ago if it hadn’t been for my pestering, I mean, encouragement.

Even though I complain and joke about how terrible my life has become from this blog, I really have had a lot of fun. It’s very entertaining getting to watch them both slowly go insane firsthand. And when a recipe comes out better than we expected, it feels like a true victory. It’s also an excuse to hang out with the 3 of us every week which is a lot of fun and usually leaves one of us in tears, sometimes even from laughing. 

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Wife: Oh yea, so I guess I was supposed to talk about the food we ate for this meal. We ate buffalo chicken meatballs which were actually pretty good. They were a little mushy and soft on the inside because they were chicken and not pork or beef. It almost tasted as if they weren’t cooked, even though Chris insisted they were, so I trust him. The flavor was pretty good, especially when you doused them in blue cheese. I would give them 3.5/5 bad CGI monkeys. 

Chris: See, guys I told you I had a wife. I was talking to my Dad about the blog, and he said I should be careful that people "don't get the wrong idea" about Allie's and my relationship. I don't think anyone who's a regular reader of this blog (all six of you!) could possibly get the wrong idea. It's just impossible to see someone who you've seen eat cabbage out of the garbage can as a possible romantic partner. We have the opposite of sexual tension--we have a Guy Fieri blog. Also, Allie is gay. Yup, that pretty much seals the deal. 

Anyway, now on to the balls. Allie and I decided to make a variety of ball meals, for some reason. We had a ball doing it. Just kidding. We did not. First we made these buffalo balls*. They were ground chicken + bleu cheese crumbles + ground up ritz crackers. We then rolled them in more ground up ritz crackers, deep fried them, and then baked them. They were pretty good, but they were a ton of work for what they were. They needed to sit in the fridge congealing for 4 hours, plus they needed to be deep fried AND baked. The best part was the awesome/beautiful song I had been singing to Allie: "BUFFALO BALLS WON'T YOU COME OUT TONIGHT, COME OUT TONIGHT, COME OUT TONIGHT..." Chris's rating: 4 out of 5 beautiful buffalo ball lullabies

*NOTE: These were surprisingly not buffalo testicles

Allie: Holy wow were these a lot of work for a casual game-day snack. I mean, I'm not a big sports person, but I know a thing or two about sitting on a couch during a football game, eating lots of chips and dip and yelling "FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! KISS! KISS! KISS!" at sweaty men, and then going to watch Tori Amos music videos on my phone in the kitchen while mainlining handfuls of Doritos. These tasted fine, but they literally took FIVE HOURS to make, and they kind of tasted like bland, mushy crackers. The sauce was good because it was hot sauce mixed with butter, and I'm always looking for new ways to get my recommended 8 servings of hot sauce mixed with butter a day. But I don't think that these are going to be replacing my signature Superbowl party snacks (a bag of Doritos and half a bottle of red wine) any time soon!!! Allie's rating: 3 out of 5 times I yelled at Chris for singing that dumb buffalo ball song

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Wife: Next we had Yakitori chicken. I literally have nothing to say about it. This isn’t my blog, I shouldn’t have to explain to you in 5 different ways how this wasn’t good. I would give it a 1/5 Jumanji sequels nobody asked for. 

Chris: Yup these weren't good. They were dry and crumbly and sort of tasted like meatloaf, if meatloaf was used as a low-cost packing material to safely ship electronics coast to coast. Basically I had to put chicken breast and bunch of other crap in a food processor to make chicken mush. Then I made little meatballs and put them in ginger-infused boiling water. THEN, I grilled them. It can never be easy, Guy, can it? Just once I want him to be like: here is a recipe. Put a thing in another thing and you're done. I didn't really know what to expect when I started this project, but I'm consistently surprised how laborious all of Guy's recipes are. I guess I thought he was lazy. It's probably the frosted tips. Anyway, like I said, these were terrible. Chris's rating: 1 out of 5 lil' balls of disappointment

Allie: I mean, these weren't TERRIBLE, but they weren't great. They were no grilled ketchup, but they were certainly pretty bland and dry. The other day I was eating hot stew and then I sneezed and a bunch of stew came out of my face and I can say with a reasonable degree of confidence that I'd rather sneeze stew all over myself again than have to eat more of these balls. I think that sentence just destroyed any sexual tension I could have ever had with any living creature. YOU'RE WELCOME, AMERICA/CHRIS'S DAD Allie's rating: 1.5 out of 5 stew sneezes

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Wife: Then we had lemongrass chicken with mango salad. I enjoyed how light and fresh this tasted compared to the rest of the dishes we ate that day. I think the mango was actually supposed to be papaya, and Allie and Chris will probably tell you a whole story about why they couldn’t get the correct fruit. It still worked for me though. The chicken was pretty bland, per usual with GF, so I stuck mostly to the salad. This one gets a 3/5 Judy and Peter Shepards. 

Chris: Oh, yea it was supposed to be papaya! First, I forgot that papaya and pomegranate were two different things. So I was looking everywhere at the store for pomegranate. Finally, I asked someone who worked there, and a very nice gentleman named Martin directed me over to the salad bar where they had it by the pound! After I scooped it into my little container, I realized, "ah crap, I was supposed to get papaya." Discreetly, I slipped the pomegranate back into the salad bar without Martin seeing. Then, I had to find papaya, but I couldn't ask Martin, because he would see I didn't have pomegranate! So I had to find another, non-Martin, employee and ask for papaya. Finally, I found someone who literally laughed and said "You know this is Chicago in October, right?" No, man I didn't! Your store was so luxurious and lush with fresh fruit that I thought I was in a tropical fruit bazaar in the Caribbean! Just kidding, of course I know I'M IN A JEWEL OSCO IN A STRIP MALL. Anyway, I subbed mango in. Also, last week I went back to that same Jewel and they had papaya! So, that other guy can suck an egg. 

Oh, this food was fine. Chris's rating: 3 out of 5 mean Jewel dudes.

Allie: I don't have any wacky stories about the food store. Sometimes I go to the food store and a lady in front of me is only buying wine and lunch meat and then I think "is that me in the future?" and then I have to check the picture of myself I keep in my wallet to see if I've started to fade away. This tasted OK, but using mango instead of papaya wasn't ideal, since mango doesn't really have any crunch to it, and it was a little too sweet for my taste. I also thought that the dressing for the salad was a little overpowering. However, I would rather eat this again than sneeze stew out of my face, so I think that's a win for Guy. I would also like a Nobel Prize for Kindness for not endlessly mocking Chris for confusing pomegranate and papaya. They have literally nothing in common except for the letter p. That would be like if I tried to buy pasta and instead I bought the Pope. Whoooo I know that joke was terrible let me have this please Allie's rating: 3 out of 5 papa-ya taking these puns for pomegranate?

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Chris: Haha, I almost forgot that this recipe called for chili sauce in the salad dressing! And that is unfortunate because that is a separate recipe! If you remember our grilled ketchup fiasco from 2 weeks ago, you will know how disappointed we were to learn that Guy started off this recipe by saying "Introducing Grilled Ketchup's wild cousin." I was so mad to find this out that I deliberately hid this from Allie, and then filmed her reaction. It was mostly screaming and crying. I will say, unlike the grilled ketchup, this actually worked. It wasn't delicious or anything but it did taste like food that was supposed to be consumed by humans. Maddeningly, the recipe makes 1.5 cups of chili sauce and you only need 1 teaspoon (!!) for this recipe. Even more maddeningly, the yakitori chicken ALSO calls for chili sauce, but Guy recommends using store-bought sauce for that recipe! I am going to find a street to lie down in. Chris's rating: 1 out of 5 pointless teaspoons of homemade chili sauce.

Allie: Most importantly: this sauce had to be COOKED DOWN for 25 minutes, which meant that it achieved the consistency of actual sauce. This was great news, because, lest you forget, I have cried literal tears that were thicker than the ketchup that we made. This sauce had tomatoes and chili flakes in it and it tasted... fine. I just really don't want to gloss over the fact that Guy Fieri made two sauces and claimed that they are cousins. What is this, Game of Thrones? Do we need ketchup to have a wild cousin? What am I doing with my life? Allie's rating: 2 out of 5 tomato family reunions ending in disaster

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Final Summary

Total dishes made: 66/157

Worst sentence in one of these recipes: "Shoulda been called smack-itori"

Total number of balls made: 39

Chris: I'm getting kind of worried there's some secret third mutation of the grilled ketchup we don't know about yet.

Allie: Not calling your wife by her actual name has given this post a real Handmaid's Tale vibe. For the record, her name is Ofchris

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meal twenty-three: bbq duck fried rice, shrimp and chicken tom kai gai

Allie: Chris recently got transferred? promoted? rolled in a carpet and mailed? to a new office, which is close to a bunch of food stores, so he offered to pick out what meals we were going to cook and do all the food shopping and all I had to do was show up at his house later and start chopping and drinking. Because this project has crushed my soul and turned me into the pigeon lady from Home Alone 2, this was the best thing that ever happened to me. While Chris was schlepping all over Chicago, trying to buy duck at three different grocery stores like the middle-aged Ferris Bueller he is, I didn't have to show my face at Jewel and say things like "where do you keep your crab boil?" Just like Ferris Bueller, Chris was unable to find any duck to buy, so he ended up singing on a parade float instead. At least I assume that's what happened. Most of the time I tune him out because he's talking about the Cocktail soundtrack. Anyway, we're getting a divorce and it's your fault.

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Allie: First, we made BBQ duck fried rice, but with chicken instead of duck, because we are not emperors. I would like to know where Guy Fieri gets off on putting a recipe for duck fried rice in his garbage cookbook, because if I'm going to be dropping $65 on duck, I'm sure as hell not going to be throwing it in some fried rice, which is something I generally make when I want something quick for dinner and not something I make when I want to feel like I'm dining like a Koch brother after a long day of hunting peasants for sport. Anyway, we subbed in chicken and I think it tasted just as good as it would have with duck (and we TRIED to make it with duck. But there are food deserts and non-food deserts and Guy Fieri apparently lives in a FOOD RAINFOREST). I liked this a lot. I mean, it's fried rice, and it has vegetables and a pretty decent sauce that you fry it in, and we didn't have to make our own ketchup. So this was pretty much a slam dunk as far as I'm concerned. Allie's rating: 4 out of 5 food rainforest cafes

Chris: I thought cooking all of Guy Fieri's recipes with another person was sad, but there is a certain sadness that comes from cooking Guy Fieri food alone in your apartment for several hours that can't be washed off, even after several showers. My day started off with going to Jewel, and Mariano's, and Whole Foods looking for duck. At Jewel, I asked if they had duck and I might as well have asked them if they had unicorn blood by the look they gave me. At Mariano's, I had to take a number and wait at the meat counter for like ten minutes and then when they finally called my number I asked them if they had duck. The butcher replied, "No, but sometimes we have frozen goose." That's kind of like going to try on dress shoes and the shoe guy goes "let me see if I have your size in the back" and then he comes back with moon boots. Yea, they might work in a pinch but that's not really what I asked for. Also, they didn't have frozen goose. Finally, I went to Whole Foods and when I asked for duck and they didn't have it, it opened up like this weird faucet of liberal guilt where they apologized, AND THEN A MANAGER came up and apologized as well. I mean, I guess it's nice, but you don't have duck, I get it. It's not like I went to the doctor, and they had to explain to me that they didn't have the heart they promised me for my transplant. So long story short, I bought chicken thighs. When I got home, I thought, "It's 2017, I bet I could order duck online." So I looked on Amazon Prime Now, and sure enough, for $8, I could have duck delivered to my home in 2 hours. I texted Allie to ask if she could wait around for a duck delivery and she refused, because apparently waiting for mail-order duck is a bridge too far. 

As far as this recipe, yes, I thought it was pretty good. Guy told us to "bring some friends to do some choppin'" so I watched Allie chop while I drank boxed wine and tried to tell her more about Cocktail. This came out good, but it didn't really taste like BBQ. It also didn't really taste like duck. That might be on us though. It DID taste like fried rice, though, so that's a win. Chris's rating: 3 out of 5 trips to the grocery store.

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Allie: Then, we made shrimp and chicken tom kai gai. This was a Thai soup with mushrooms and chicken and some frozen shrimp that we hastily defrosted and chucked in there, just like they do in Thailand and at bar mitzvahs. I actually thought this was pretty tasty, even though we had to add a boatload of hot sauce and lime to give it some flavor. The chicken was boiled unseasoned white meat chicken breast, though, so it was truly overwhelmingly bland. Eating that chicken was like trying to eat the feeling of waiting 11 minutes for a subway train on a Monday night. However, in Guy Fieri world, this was a mostly pleasant soup. Allie's rating: 3.5 out of 5 chucked shrimp

Chris: This dish required more hilarious grocery store humiliation! Somehow, we already cruised through 6 pounds of frozen shrimp for this blog, so it was time to replenish our supply. I think for years to come I will keep finding frozen shrimp deposits around my apartment, like how a squirrel only finds like a quarter of the nuts they hide before winter. Jewel, bless their heart, was running a buy one get one free deal on frozen shrimp rings. It even came with cocktail sauce. When I went to check out, this being Jewel, they had one register open, with a line snaking into the aisles. When I finally got to the front of the line, I saw that I did not get my buy one get one free shrimp, so I told the cashier lady. You could physically see the bodies of everyone in line behind me sink and they all gave each other the look of "Oh this asshole thinks he's special and wants a discount on shrimp" but I stuck to my guns. Also I could tell the cashier did not believe me and thought I was trying to poach some free shrimp. The cashier had to make a call to the fish department and then try to describe what she was talking about. "Yea the guy here says he gets buy one get one on this shrimp...ring. There's like a sauce in the middle. It's made by ...Fisherman's Choice. It's not ringing in as buy one get one. I tried to scan it, and it's charging him twice. He said he got it here [no I brought it in myself, and now I'm trying to pay for it, that makes sense]. Do you see a display that has that? I don't know, did you check the seasonal counter? Yea, Fisherman's Choice. It's like frozen shrimp and there's a sauce in the middle. Yea, in the middle. Oh, it is buy one get one. How do I ring it in? It's not working. It keeps coming up as two different transactions..." Eventually she just gave me the shrimp.

Oh yea, the soup. It was pretty decent. Like Allie said, boiling chicken is the buttered noodles of the soup world, not a lot of flavor there. Overall though, this was pretty nice. The worst part was Allie kept saying, "when I was in Thailand" and then telling me a story WHICH WAS EXCRUCIATING and I deserve a Nobel peace prize for not murdering her. Chris's rating: 3.5 out of 5 million stories about that time Allie went to Thailand.

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Final Summary

Total dishes made: 62/157

Worst sentence in one of these recipes: "Tom Kai Gai may be the official name of this soup, but I think it stands for Tom (my manager), Korina (my culinary director), and Guy (me!) So it's gotta be good."

Total number of bags of frozen shrimp we have bought for this blog: 2

Chris: My supervisor asked me yesterday how I liked my new job assignment and I had to restrain myself from berating her for assigning me to an office so close to the grocery store. 

Allie: Having spent three days in Thailand once, I just feel like I'm in a place where petty nonsense like that doesn't bother me that much, so

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meal twenty-two: ginger carrot soup, pepper jack pretzels, malty strawman, guido's lomo saltado, grilled ketchup

Chris: Allie recently decided to make a spreadsheet that organizes all of Guy Fieri: Livin' it, Lovin' it, Puttin' bacon in it for some reason. She really did it up to the nines--color coding, different categories, breakdowns of ingredients. If she put this much detail and effort into the rest of her life, she'd be able to be a normal put-together person who doesn't cry in the tub while eating stale pop tarts and reading Golden Girls fan fiction. The result of all this organization is that we realized we are behind. Like really behind. Like still have to make over 400 sub cabinet appointments nine months into your term, behind. Because of that, we decided to cook a butt load of food, with no theme, rhyme, or reason. It's like we loaded up a Guy Fieri shotgun, put it in our mouth and pulled the trigger. 

Allie: As I have already yelled at Chris, I am strongly anti-bath and I am also VERY capable of buying pop-tarts WELL before their expiration date. LIBEL AND SLANDER!

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Chris: First we made some ginger carrot soup. We sauteed a bunch of stuff in a pan like carrots and onions and put them in a blender with vegetable stock and it made soup. I've been trying to make my life more like the movie Cocktail with Tom Cruise. If you haven't seen it, Tom Cruise plays a flair bartender who does crazy tricks while making cocktails. Basically I crank the cocktail soundtrack and do awesome tricks while making soup. It is going...ok. I think, at least, Allie knows what I'm talking about when I yell at her, "THIS IS JUST LIKE COCKTAIL!" This soup came out pretty good. It was kind of like a cocktail but instead of using rum we used vegetable stock and instead of being a mudslide it was soup. Chris's rating: 4 out of 5 kokomos.

Allie: I don't think I've ever seen Cocktail, and after listening to Chris talk about it for three weeks, I don't think he has, either. Even though this soup involved mixing spices into yogurt and then letting it sit in the fridge for a while, which is rapidly becoming the thing I like least about my life, this soup was actually pretty good. It had a nice autumnal flavor and it was easy to make. It's so normal and balanced that my current theory is that the cookbook's ghostwriter, or maybe a savvy child prankster, sneaked this recipe into the cookbook as a joke. Allie's rating: 4.5 out of 5 soup there it is

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Chris: We also made pretzels. There's like a 5-page-long story in this cookbook about how Guy started a pretzel cart when he was a child. It was called the awesome pretzel cart. This story is incredibly detailed and incredibly pointless. It includes sales figures and startup costs from 1980. I can't complain too much because Guy has started a foundation and uses the pretzel carts to teach kids about starting businesses. Can't make fun of him for that. (Allie: We can't?! Maybe we should be teaching kids about more useful skills. Like TAKING DOWN ISIS)

These pretzels were delicious. They were also weird. I had to roll all this dough out and layer in cheese, and then roll it out again. I used a ruler to get the dimensions right, but they still came out odd. They were tasty, but they didn't really taste like pretzels. They were just baked, so they didn't have that hard, egg-y outside I associate with a pretzel. I also am mad at Guy, who gives step by step instructions in the recipe. He also gives a 15(!) panel photo guide of how to make the pretzels. AND IN BOTH, the last step is "make into a pretzel shape and bake." Maybe he could have removed one anecdote from his pretzel story and included a how to. Chris's rating: 4 out of 5 pretzels making me thirsty.

Allie: One of my favorite childhood memories is eating soft pretzels on the streets of Philadelphia, which is a pastime so beloved that Bruce Springsteen wrote a whole song about it. Those pretzels had it all: a hard exterior, lots of salt, a weird oblong shape that made them perfect for grabbing while running up and down the steps of the art museum. These pretzels had cheese, which was good, but they were pretty blond, and they tasted more like doughy breadsticks than pretzels to me. I mean, I wouldn't kick these pretzels out of bed for eating crackers, even though that's carbohydrate cannibalism, but I guess I was just expecting more from someone who fancies themselves a pretzel tycoon. Allie's rating: 2.5 out of 5 Rocky starts to pretzel-making

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Chris: We also made Guido's lomo saltado. Look, I'll level with you. I don't think I helped with this AT ALL. I just know it was insane. There are french fries in it. It was like someone took an entire McDonald's value meal and chopped it up and put it over rice. Chris's rating: 3 out of 5 McDisasters. 

Allie: This was... sour. I've never had lomo saltado before, so I'm grateful to Guy for helping me expand my cultural horizons, but the flavors in this were all over the place, and I did not enjoy them. If you're wondering what cooking Guy Fieri food tastes like, this is a good example: he took all of my favorite foods (meat, beer, fries) and somehow made them all taste terrible when they were combined together. You could use this cookbook to teach students about the second law of thermodynamics, because cooking this food is basically increasing culinary entropy. Anyway, like I said, this was sour and eating it made my mouth tired. Allie's rating: 2 out of 5 lomo saltad-no thank yous

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Chris: We made the malty strawman which has to be one of the lamest recipes in the cookbook. There's nothing wrong with it, but it's just vanilla ice cream, banana, strawberry and malt. That isn't a recipe from a major food personality; that's like a recipe you see on Buzzfeed's 10 Easy Recipes only 90s Kids Need to Cook because Baby Boomers Ruined the Economy. Chris's rating: 2.5 out of 5 malty strawman fallacies. 

Allie: OK, this was actually called the "malty strawnana". DON'T ANTHROPOMORPHIZE MILKSHAKES. It was hard to find malt powder at the food store, because it's not 1955 anymore and no one is drinking malts down at the sock hop except for us, apparently. Once we found and bought a vat of malt powder, we made this and it tasted exactly like a smoothie and you know what? I'm gonna give Guy a win for this. It was a smoothie recipe and it made a smoothie that didn't make me question the laws of thermodynamics. Allie's rating: 4 out of 5 the malty strawnanas and the papas

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Chris: Finally, we made grilled ketchup. I thought, as a society, we decided that ketchup from the store was fine. No one invites you over and says, "I made everything from scratch, including the ketchup." It's already one of the building blocks of food. Is Guy gonna have me start harvesting my own wheat? Is he gonna have me start slaughtering my own pigs? WHERE DOES IT END? And ok, if this was really tasty, I'd be like, fine, I'll make this as a special treat some time. But it was truly awful. I think it is my least favorite thing we have made for the blog so far. Basically, I had to grill onions, red pepper, and tomatoes and then put them in a blender. You may be thinking, "Is that all it takes to make ketchup? Just three ingredients? How simple! How elegant!" BUT NO. That is not all it takes to make ketchup. This didn't really resemble ketchup in any meaningful way. It was kind of pink and watery and tasted awful. It tasted like old bloody mary mix that had been left in the sun. I was so annoyed by this. I was annoyed that Guy would have the gall to put a ketchup recipe in his book and annoyed that his editor wouldn't bother checking if this even worked. I was annoyed I wasted perfectly good vegetables making this. I was annoyed that I lost ten minutes of my life cooking this. I WANT MY YOUTH BACK, GUY! Oh well, I would have probably wasted it anyway. Chris's rating: 0 out of 5. We have a new champion for worst recipe in the cookbook. I have a feeling it won't last long.

Allie: OK, for some reason, I thought that when this ketchup was done, it would resemble ketchup in some way. I thought it would be red and also pretty thick. You know, like ketchup. But as soon as we put the grilled tomatoes in the blender, I realized that there was no thickening agent anywhere in the recipe. This ketchup was like the Jersey shore: hot, sticky, and 95% water. I don't know why, but this recipe broke me. I was literally sobbing because I was laughing so hard at this dumb, gross ketchup. There's just no way on God's green earth that this bonkers recipe will ever produce anything that even vaguely resembles ketchup. Look, 2017 has been a pretty rough year. If I'm gonna get through it by laughing at ketchup then that's what I'm gonna do. Allie's rating: 1 out of 5. This was definitely the worst thing we've made so far but it gets 1 star for making me laugh

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Final Summary

Total recipes made: 62/157

Worst Sentence in one of these Recipes: "Me: Sorry! You: Sorry for what? Me: Oh, sorry for turning you on to this...It's gonna have you on the quest for gourmet ketchup!"

Things I would prefer to homemade ketchup: artisinal toilet paper, a farm to table noogie, chef-inspired toothpaste flavors

Allie: It's also worth mentioning that Guy's pretzel origin story involved him going to a pretzel cart, realizing that pretzels taste good, and stealing the idea AND PRETZEL RECIPE from his rival, which is some very cold shit that is presented, in the cookbook, as heartwarming pretzel shenanigans

Chris: You're right, Allie. This cookbook is basically The Departed. I think we're all gonna die at the end. 

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meal twenty-one: tex wasabi's koi fish tacos, watermelon pork tacos

Allie: Well, we made tacos, and neither one of us went to the emergency room, so I guess it was one of our better meals? Chris and I cooked at my apartment again this week. My apartment is a very small studio that has a solid 18 square inches of counter space, so cooking Guy Fieri food at my place always has a real Man vs. Wild vibe to it (in terms of scrounging for space and resources, not in terms of like... finding fresh water). Other than that, it was a pretty typical night for us. When we were at the grocery store, the cashier held up the head of romaine lettuce we were buying and said "is this romaine?" to which I said "yes, it is... the romaine event" and Chris said "I hate you" and the cashier laughed and then stopped and looked at me and quietly said "That made my night" and it got really serious all of a sudden. In these dark times, I guess it's nice to know that this Guy Fieri blog, which is basically hamburgling my body and spirit every week, could have been the catalyst for something positive for once. Later, Chris said "what a good pun you made. You make great puns. Our friendship is stronger than ever!" It was a nice moment.

Chris: It was a nice moment. Allie followed it up by tearfully declaring, "you complete me."

This is maybe the best photo Allie has ever taken

This is maybe the best photo Allie has ever taken

Allie: First, we made Tex Wasabi's koi fish tacos. The first time I read the name of this recipe, I was like, sure, of course Guy walks around grabbing koi out of those little ponds in hotel lobbies and putting bleached-tip wigs on them and deep-frying them and serving them to unhappy Norcal families for $27. I have been given the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Then I read the recipe and realized that this taco actually calls for cod, and he just named them after koi because he was trying to be cute, and apparently koi are a cool fish that people like to tattoo on themselves (?). Anyway, we embraced Guy's legacy by making "koi fish tacos", which called for cod, by using tilapia, which I assume is only found in the saddest of hotel lobby ponds.

For some reason, this took us like four hours to cook, which may have been because we had to make a tequila lime aioli and pico de gallo and let them both sit for an hour before we could fry up this dumb fish. In related news, I would like to find whoever told Guy Fieri about adding tequila to dairy and I would like to kick him into the sun. Anyway, these were actually pretty good. I've never made fish tacos before, but the fish was actually pretty light and crispy. You could also just go to Rubio's and get a fish taco and it wouldn't take you 3 hours and your apartment wouldn't smell like a Rubio's, but if you're going to make fish tacos you could probably do a lot worse than these. Allie's rating: 4 out of 5 koi vey!!! (???)

Chris: What the hell is Rubio's? GO BACK TO CALIFORNIA, YOU HIPPIE!!

Allie was manning the breading station which went egg->flour->breadcrumbs. As we made more and more fish chunks her work got sloppier and sloppier until she was just slinging golf ball-sized chunks of flour into scalding hot oil, despite my protests for some semblance of sanity and order. We used tilapia that was suspiciously cheap--$4/lb--and it didn't taste like anything. That's not to say it tasted bad; I actually liked these. These tasted like they were authentic Long John Silvers, which is maybe the biggest compliment you can give a Guy Fieri dish. 

The tequila lime aioli is like the tenth dish we've made that required us to add tequila to regular food to ruin it. Like the handsome geniuses we are, we bought a bottle of the cheapest tequila at the cheapest grocery store six months ago and have been using it in all the recipes and are repeatedly SHOCKED that it does not taste good. Anyway, these were solid if you didn't use the aioli. Also, Allie needs to buy a microwave because I had to heat the tortillas on the stove like a PILGRIM. Chris's rating: I won't be Koi, these deserve a 4 out of 5! (I'm sorry)

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Allie: We also made watermelon pork tacos. We did not want to make watermelon pork tacos. After we were done frying up the koi pond tacos, Chris was lying on the ground and I was reflecting on the fact that in prepping two taco dishes, we had used literally every single dish I owned, and I was realizing that cleaning my kitchen was going to be like cleaning up an extra-greasy crime scene on a Smash Mouth tour bus. I was also mad at Chris because he didn't cut up the pork before he started to marinate it, so I basically fired up a skillet and threw half a pork tenderloin on there and hacked at the meat while it cooked, like a very domestic murderer. As we ate these, Chris looked at me and said "I don't like this" in a sad voice. Then he went home.

These tacos were pretty weird. The pork had kind of an Asian-inspired marinade, with soy sauce and oyster sauce, but then it was covered in avocado and watermelon. It wasn't bad, necessarily, but it also wasn't a flavor profile I feel compelled to explore in the future. It was also wrapped in lettuce because Guy Fieri is a carb Babadook, I guess. Someone should make a movie where the Babadook lives underwater and he is called a Crabadook! Anyway, these tacos were inoffensive, but you don't have to make them. Allie's rating: 2.5 out of 5 take a look, Crabadook, reading rainbows

Chris: Could you have picked a more obscure reference than Babadook? GO BACK TO CALIFORNIA, YOU ELITIST SNOB!

I really didn't want to make this food. I was exhausted from cooking/being scalded by hot oil for like 5 hours and was just laying on the floor. Allie and I then spent forty five minutes thinking of ways we wouldn't have to cook these dumb pork tacos, which probably took more effort than just cooking them. Ideas we thought of included:

-Rearrange our entire weekends to find a time to cook together
-Have one of us cook these, and then make the other person try it next time we were together
-Don't cook it and pretend we did and assume no one would care/notice
-Use science or magic to go back in time and not have this blog

In the end, we just ended up cooking them. Like Allie already SPOILED, I did not like these. The texture could best be described as "wet" and there was a weird contrast between the hot pork and the ice cold watermelon that I did not like. It was like that Katy Perry song Hot N Cold in that I DID NOT LIKE IT. Chris's rating: 2 out of 5 plastic bags drifting through the wind

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Final Summary:

Total dishes made: 57/153

Worst sentence in one of these recipes: "No, I don't actually use koi in this recipe, but koi fish are reminiscent of Asia and tattoo art, and you know I gotta have fun with the name. Yee-haw!"

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Text exchange that best sums up our friendship right now: 

Chris: I'm still mad about the lettuce pun

Allie: lettuce move on from this entire ordeal

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meal twenty: weird spaghetti, heirloom nitro tomato soup

Chris: Well folks, it took twenty meals but it finally happened. Guy Fieri almost sent me to the emergency room.

It all started when Allie asked me to come over to her apartment to install a hook so she could hang a plant, because I am a man, and thus handy, and she is a woman, and thus loves plants? I don't know anything about women. Allie also told me she didn't have a stud finder, or a stepstool, or a drill and I said, "Ok just remind me to bring them" and so she immediately texted me, "don't forget a stepstool, drill, or stud finder." Whatever. I'm pretty sure Allie has now lost her security deposit since we cooked Guy Fieri food in it for the first time. 

Anyway, we start cooking the food, which needs to simmer for a while, and so I got up on a step stool to try to drill the hook into the ceiling, and like an idiot I don't wear goggles or anything, and my face is like an inch from the ceiling, and a whole bunch of dry wall gets in my eye. It doesn't hurt that bad, and dammit, I have a Guy Fieri blog to crappily maintain, so I go back to cooking, just keeping one eye closed. Somehow, that doesn't make it better. I try flushing it with water from the sink for like 15 minutes. It feels better while I'm actually flushing it, but once I take it out of the water, it starts hurting again. I try watching Marc Maron's new stand up special, doesn't help. At this point, it's like eleven p.m., I'm full of like a pound of Guy Fieri food, and I'm thinking I might have to go to the emergency room. I start texting with a friend who is a doctor who just laughs at me. Allie googles it and finds an old reddit thread that suggests instead of flushing your eye in the sink, you should stick your face in a bowl of water and blink until the stuff comes out. So that's how this happened: 

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Anyway, it worked! Look how much stuff was in my eye!

Chris: Oh yea, also we made dumb and mediocre food.

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Chris: First, we made weird spaghetti. I've been annoyed just looking at this recipe in the cookbook over the last five months because it just has a dumb name. I keep saying, "there's vomit on his sweater already, weird spaghetti." I have to give this recipe credit though--it was better than Eminem's vomit. It was basically Skyline chili. There were spices, and ground beef, and tomato sauce. Also there was spaghetti. It honestly wasn't all that weird. I find it more weird, if anything, that he chose this recipe, of all recipes, to attach the "weird" moniker to. There were so many weirder recipes! One time I had to put ground up ramen noodles on a salad! I had to make pasta inspired by Guy losing his virginity, for Chrissakes. Couldn't he have called that "weird spaghetti??" Chris's rating: 3 out of 5 "weird" points.

Allie: A few months ago, my mom saw Guy Fieri make chili on a daytime talk show and she called me and was straight up AGHAST at the way he seasoned his chili. Every time she calls me now we have to talk about this dumb chili he made and how poorly seasoned it was, because our mother-daughter relationship is 40% based on food and 40% based on talking shit about people (and 20% based on a shared enjoyment of red wine). I don't know if this counted as chili or pasta, but here's what I do know: it tasted like a pumpkin pie and I hated it. The balance of the spices was way off, and between the sweetness of the tomatoes and the cocoa powder, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg, it was like eating a beefy pumpkin spice latte. This pasta was so bittersweet, it was like eating the ending of Annie Hall, or some dusty dark chocolate that had been floating around my purse for six months. I mean, it's literally called "weird spaghetti", so I guess I can't get too mad about it being... weird spaghetti. Allie's rating: 1.5 out of 5 snap back to reality, oh there goes spa-ghetti

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Chris: We also made heirloom nitro tomato soup. We had been saving soups for Fall, because we are all about that #cozylife. Also, we are disorganized. This recipe came out looking like white mush. If I told you there are two photos on this blog post, one is soup and another is drywall, would you guess that this is the soup??

Because, yea that is soup. This soup was incredibly spicy. I know we usually give Guy a hard time for underseasoning his dishes, but this was so spicy that it made my eyes water. The tears did not propel the drywall out of my eye. I don't know, this soup was pretty good. I ate it with tortilla chips and that was nice. Chris's rating: 3.5 out of 5 spicy drywall chunks.

Allie: I've made plenty of soups and stews before because, as Chris mentioned above, I am all about that #cozylife. This soup called for a roux containing almost a whole stick of butter and a wheelbarrow full of flour. I yelled to Chris, "I think this soup is going to be really thick" but he was busy washing drywall out of his eye and he yelled back something that sounded like "I am busy washing drywall out of my eye". So I made this soup, which was far too thick to be considered a liquid. As I stirred it, the whole thing kind of balled up on itself like choux pastry dough. I had to add two cups of water to coax it back into a liquid state. Confusingly, it didn't even really taste like tomatoes; it kind of tasted like queso without the cheese (?). It was definitely very spicy, but that's probably because Chris just dumped a bunch of jalapenos in the tomato mixture and then ran off to drill a hole in my ceiling. Anyway, it's probably a good thing that Chris's near-blinding incident happened, because otherwise I would've had to write a whole paragraph about how the phrase "heirloom nitro" sounds like a reboot of Antiques Roadshow hosted by Vin Diesel and no one wants to hear about that. Allie: 2 out of 5 Fast and Furious: Tokyo Thrifts

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Final Summary: 

Total recipes made: 55/153

Worst sentence in one of these recipes: "The better the base ingredients, the better the outcome of your dish." Oh, that's what we're doing wrong.

FYI: In case of an eyemergency, here is a 2013 Reddit thread about how to get drywall out of your eye. It is truly comforting to know that when our garbage government repeals Obamacare we will have old Reddit threads to keep us alive

Allie: FYI, Chris didn't even have the right drill bit, so after this meal, all I had was two holes in my ceiling, nowhere to hang my plant, and indigestion

Chris: Sorry I inconveninced you with my friendship

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meal nineteen: pork blade steak piccata, mcalister potatoes

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Allie: Hey (meal) nineteen! Chris and I have been on a bit of a Steely Dan kick recently since Walter Becker passed away, but I'm listening to Steely Dan while I'm writing this and their smooth jazz-pop stylings are mellowing me out to the point where I can't remember a single thing about this meal. In my defense, this meal was very unmemorable. The most memorable thing about this meal was that we decided to buy a cookie cake at the Jewel, and we picked one out that had the saddest, sloppiest American flag I've ever seen drawn on it in red, white and blue icing. The flag was so crudely drawn that it somehow became transcendentally beautiful, like a Basquiat painting. Anyway, the next day I ate some of the leftover cookie cake and it stained my hands and mouth a dark blue, just like the time I ate a Basquiat painting. Also, we made pork.

Chris: Just about every time Allie comes over to cook, she says "Can we just order pizza?" It has never once been funny. I do appreciate the sentiment, because there are so many days where the last thing I want to do is go grocery shopping and then spend a couple hours cooking a meal that will inevitably turn into disappointment. This was one of those days where I really did not feel like cooking. Allie was making the shopping list and she said, "Is there anything else we need?" And offhandedly I said, "a cookie cake." And we both laughed, but then Allie and I made eye contact. The type of eye contact only two people who have shared a traumatic experience can share. Eye contact that says "this is not a joke, I need a cookie cake or I will die."

We went to Jewel and we're walking through the liquor section and I ask Allie how much we'd be willing to spend on a cookie cake. Allie said, "if it's $10 or less, I say we just buy it." We then walked over to the bakery section, which is on the other side of the store, lifted up the cake, and saw that it was exactly $9.99 and started laughing. There was a guy standing next to us wearing a backwards hat and a tank top. He saw our expressions and said "well you have to buy it now." We both kind of stared at him dumbfounded and he said "you said $10 was your limit so you have to buy it." Then he played his boyfriend's butt like a bongo and skipped away. The thing was, he was NOWHERE NEAR US when we were talking about our cookie cake budget. Truly, he was some sort of cookie cake Bagger Vance/Don Cheadle in The Family Man/Morgan Freeman in any of his movies. 

Allie: After our magical cookie cake-buying experience, we made pork blade steak piccata. I don't think I participated in the making of this at all, since I was busy making the starch-based version of Frankenstein's monster pictured below, but I'm pretty sure it tasted fine. I had genuinely never heard of pork blade steak before this, but once I realized we weren't going to be eating a pig dressed as Wesley Snipes I was fine with it. The lemon gave the pork a nice flavor, I think? I'm so sorry, you guys. I ate this a week ago and it made zero impression on me. I might as well be looking at a picture of Sam Worthington right now. Were there capers on this?? That's weird. Allie's rating: 3? out of 5 more much-needed sequels to Avatar

Chris: I actually kind of liked this. I had never heard of blade steak before, but it was kind of like pork skirt steak. There was a lot of fat marbled in. We marinated the steak for a little while and then grilled it. I will say that in doing this blog, I have lost my ability to properly cook meat. Some of this meat was done fine, but some was too underdone and had to be recooked. All the information I had stored in my brain about cooking meat has been replaced by different ways of writing "this was complicated and bland." It's like when I was studying for the bar exam, Commercial Paper law replaced the part of my brain that taught me how to feel happiness. Anyway, this wasn't bad once it was actually cooked. Chris's rating: 3.5 out of 5 replaced brain sections.

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Allie: Then, we made McAlister potatoes. Hoo boy. The first step of this recipe was to mix chopped hot peppers, sour cream, and white wine in a bowl and then chill it for an hour in the fridge. That in itself was pretty disgusting, but then I mixed this devil's soup too vigorously and I ended up splashing wet sour cream wine water all over Chris's freshly painted wall and I had to wipe it off while I hung my head in shame, like a dog that just ate a Basquiat painting. These potatoes, as with many of Guy's meals, required a herculean amount of effort for a dish that was essentially just hash browns. We first had to cook bacon, onion and garlic, and then we had to scrape all that out and quarantine it on a plate. Then we had to boil potatoes, smash them with a dish towel, and fry them in the bacon grease. Then we put the potatoes on the bacon mixture and topped everything with cold, spicy, alcoholic yogurt. It tasted fine. Even the spicy garbage nonsense wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and the rest of it was just potatoes. That picture makes it look much worse than it actually was. It looks like a crab exploded... on a Basquiat painting... Allie's rating: 3.5 out of 5 potato-based Rube Goldberg machines aka TUBER GOLDBERG MACHINES THANK YOU

Chris: I have felt really dumb many times while making this blog. For example, one time I had to sprinkle crushed-up ramen noodles on the top of a "salad." Another example: sometimes I have tell people I have a Guy Fieri blog. But I don't think I have ever felt dumber than when I put on oven mitts and had to crush boiled potatoes with a dish rag. They squished like turkey eyeballs (Allie: ew) and I just made eye contact with Allie that said "this cookie cake better be worth it." And it was! The cookie cake was the best thing we have had so far (unequivocal 5 out of 5). These potatoes were pretty bland, except the parts that had sauce. The parts that had sauce kind of tasted like how nail polish remover smells. Chris's rating: 2.5 out of 5 squished turkey eyeballs 

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Final Summary:

Total recipes made: 53/153

Worst sentence in one of these recipes: "It may seem as if I have a lot going on, but I'm pretty consistent in my style and habits." Are you, Guy? ARE YOU?

FYI: you can order us a cookie cake online, in case anyone wants to be a HERO

Chris: I kept saying cooooookie cake. Like in the cookie crisp commecials with the cartoon burglar. But then Allie made me stop. 

Allie: Can we just order pizza

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meal eighteen: sloppy joes with maui onion straws, morgan's veggie patties, rice a munee, szechuan green beans

Chris: One of Allie's and my favorite movies is Wet Hot American Summer. We discovered it back in college on DVD, years after it left theaters, so we were excited when our local theater had a midnight showing. If you haven't seen the movie, it's about the last day of summer camp. I had the bright idea to combine the screening with cooking Guy Fieri food. We'd invite a few friends over, cook some camp-themed cuisine, and then head to the movie. It would be just like an episode of Pioneer Woman where she has an activity that fits the theme of the dish she is making.

Here was my internal monologue:

Me: This is going to be adorable!

Narrator: It wasn't.

The food actually wasn't that bad. But the process of cooking and deep frying four different dishes on a Friday night for six people was not easy. Look, I'm not a woman, but I'm comfortable saying it was harder than childbirth. 

The evening started strong. Allie and I went to the Jewel and immediately bee-lined for the liquor section, where they had a little wine tasting set up. A kindly, older gentleman was running the wine tasting at a card table with two whites and two reds. I was sipping wine from a plastic cup and I said to Allie, "It's Friday night, we're at a wine tasting, this could be a date." To which Allie said, "Yea, if only your wife was here." To which the old wine tasting man let out the smallest, most uncomfortable laugh I've ever heard.

Allie: It would have been very easy to clear everything up by saying "I'm a lesbian and we have a Guy Fieri food blog together", but instead I like to imagine that the poor old wine man just witnessed the saddest affair of all time, one in which two people in the prime of their lives decided to spend their illicit Friday night together buying ground beef. Thus is the godlike power of the old wine man: he can observe our lives from afar but he can never interfere.

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Chris: The camp theme broke down almost immediately. First, we made sloppy joes--that's a camp meal, right? These were actually pretty good! Allie has gotten really good at chopping. That's not even a joke. Basically nothing has gone right with this blog, but I have watched Allie get really really good at chopping vegetables. I feel like a proud parent who bought their kid a trumpet and had to listen to them play ugly, flat Hot Cross Buns at like 50 concerts while I stood there smiling like a proud idiot and now my kid is at Carnegie Hall playing Hot Cross Buns. But the sloppy joes were pretty easy to make. You just dumped things in a pot in a certain order, which is my idea of cooking. The only hard part was that you had to make onion rings, which involved standing over a hot pot of oil, and my apartment has already experienced the devastating climate change coming to the rest of the world in the coming decades so it's always like 100 degrees. But overall I liked these. Easy to make. Sufficiently sloppy. Chris's rating: 4 out of 5 inconvenient truths.

Allie: I HAVE gotten really good at chopping! But it's just because I don't like standing over hot pots of oil, and I can pretty much just keep my head down and chop away while Chris ends up with beer-battered skin. Now he is the human tilapia, not me! Anyway, I had pretty low expectations for this meal, especially because sloppy joes aren't a food I eat a lot as an adult. Like, if I want beef, I will eat a hamburger, and if I want chili, I will eat chili. I don't need to pile chili on a hamburger bun any more than I need to eat yogurt out of a tube. While it was cooking, it looked brown. Then I had a bite of it and it was the best thing I had ever eaten in my entire life. Was that because I didn't have lunch that day and I had been drinking for an hour? DOES IT MATTER? It was so good. I still think sloppy joes are a pointless food but things can still be good while also being pointless. That's why we have Chad Michael Murray. Allie's rating: 4.75 out of 5 dog ate dan's new hearts

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Chris: But then we had a friend who's a vegetarian. This may surprise you, but there are not a lot of vegetarian options in Guy Fieri Food: Cookin' it, Livin' it, Lovin' it. I think most of the cocktails start with a base of hot ham water.  But there was a veggie burger recipe, so we made those, because, uh, that's campy? They were loaded with beans, one of the basic building blocks of camp food. These were actually the biggest shock, because they were good! They were a little crumbly, but I think with pretty minor tweaks I could make them stay together easily. They were--prepare yourself--actually well seasoned! I liked these a lot. Maybe Guy should have made more vegetarian recipes instead of waffle stomping ground beef down my throat hole. Chris's rating: 4.5 out of 5 meaty cocktails.

Allie: I started apologizing to our vegetarian friend as soon as she came over, because she was trying to fortify herself for a midnight movie and resigning yourself to a Guy Fieri dinner is basically playing Russian roulette with your stomach. I was expecting these burgers to be like an hour of Steven Wright stand-up: very dry. Instead, they were like an hour of Gallagher stand-up: surprisingly moist! They actually had seasoning in them and you could TASTE it and I was genuinely stunned. I was also genuinely surprised these didn't have meat in them, because my standards are now comically low. Allie's rating: 4.5 out of 5 watermelon explosions

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Chris: Then we need some camp-themed sides, so we made rice a munee? I don't know. The camp theme was basically dead at this point. It seemed easy. It was dumb rice that had meat in it. There were also frozen peas in it. I hated this. It was stupid and our vegetarian friend couldn't eat it which meant more for me. Chris's rating: 1 out of 5 dumb stupid rices for jerks.

Allie: Where do I even fucking start. OK, let's start with the name. Guy named this rice "rice a munee", which is pronounced "money" but it's misspelled because he thinks it's funny (?) (!). Every time I see "rice a munee" I want to pronounce it as "MUNI" so for a while I thought this rice was based on the cuisine of San Francisco's public transportation system and I was expecting it to taste like a puddle of bus urine and a man who voted for Jill Stein. The ingredients of this dish include basmati rice, prosciutto, vermicelli noodles, red bell peppers and frozen peas, so it's basically just a wacky cultural appropriation risotto? I don't know. It tasted like literally nothing. Who needs to add MEAT AND NOODLES to a side dish of RICE? One of our friends described this "pasta rice" as "soft and pulpy" which is a good way to describe making paper but maybe not food. Allie's rating: 1 out of 5 pulpy noodle rices

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Chris: Finally, we made szechuan green beans. I'm not sure if this was on the camp theme at all. The Pioneer Woman is probably rolling around in her grave at this point. This had one of the dumbest recipes ever. In it, Guy told us to make a sauce in a saucepan and heat oil in a dutch oven. Ok. Then he said "Working quickly to prevent garlic from burning, add the soy sauce mixture." Add it to WHAT? So I added it to the green beans. But, the next step says "Fry the green beans in canola oil for 45 seconds." I did that and the oil got all weird because the green beans were all wet. The last step was to "Add the green beans to the sauce." What the actual fuck. I was done. I lay on the ground eating mini sloppy joe sliders and drinking boxed wine until it was time to go to the movie. Because after I eat a lot of Guy Fieri food, I'm always super energized to go out at midnight. Chris rating: 2.5 out of 5, because the beans themselves were fine.

Allie: I think the recipe might have been slightly clearer than Chris is giving Guy credit for, because by this point in the evening, Chris was basically acting like he was snowblind on the top of Everest. Like he couldn't really comprehend what was happening and he couldn't read the cookbook correctly, and he was basically rambling on deliriously. I was waiting for TWO HOURS beneath the Hillary Step, because traffic on the mountain that year was crazy. We had enforced a strict turn-around time of 1 PM, but by that point it was almost 2, and I was starting to get antsy. Here's my thing: I make stir-fried green beans all the time, and I have never ever deep fried them, because that defeats the purpose of a stir fry, which is supposed to be easy. These beans tasted fine, but they absolutely did not need to be deep fried. Also, if you climb Everest you should pick a turn-around time and STICK TO IT. Allie's rating: 3 out of 5 the eve-rest of the meal was better

Final Summary:

Total recipes made: 49/153--One-third mark here we come!

Most applicable Wet Hot line for this meal: "You taste like a burger. I don't like you anymore."

Worst sentence in one of these recipes: "A standard veggie patty looks like something you'd come across in a field of buffaloes."

Allie: It's probably important to note that I straight up bailed on this movie and went to bed instead, thus officially making the whole "themed meal" concept pretty pointless

Chris: I agree, this whole blog is pointless.

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meal seventeen: i've got the need, the need for fried cheese; st. pat's pasta

Allie: We made food. WHAT MORE DO YOU PEOPLE WANT FROM US. We have now made 45 Guy Fieri recipes, which is sobering. That is so many recipes. It feels like my whole life now is that "cat's in the cradle" song, except the dad is me and my son is a normal, healthy life where I go to the gym and don't eat cabbage out of the trash like a raccoon who's trying to go paleo. I just listened to that whole song while staring at a picture of Irish pasta and it was the most depressing thing that's ever happened to me. Then I realized that this blog has to become more exciting and less depressing so I instantly decided to start a blood feud with Chris's robot trash can!! Tune in next week to see how that goes. If we're living in a robopocalypse by next week, then you know how it went!!!

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Allie: First, we made mozzarella sticks, which Guy calls "I've got the need, the need for fried cheese". I know I should be outraged by the name of this recipe, but I really can't muster the strength anymore. I feel like a dead-eyed old man sitting on a porch outside of a traveling circus, just watching crazy things pass me by while I mumble about buttons. Despite the fact that this food has the same name as a thing that drunk guys like to scream at sports bars, these actually weren't bad. They're just mozzarella sticks wrapped in salami and then wrapped again in an egg roll wrapper and then deep-fried, which sounds zany but the wrapper does a nice job of keeping everything together and I'm not about to take Guy Fieri to task for adding salami to hot cheese because those are two of my favorite foods. When we were done cooking these, we ended up pouring a gallon of used canola oil into an empty white wine bottle and it was everything I've been dreaming of since I was a little girl. Allie's rating: 3.5 out of 5 button mumbles

Chris: Usually, Guy adds needless twists to existing foods that leave me just baffled. It's like when I watch The Shawshank Redemption, I'm always like, this is a good movie, but did they need to add the twist in at the end about Morgan Freeman being a ghost the whole time? Or I liked 2016, except for the twist ending, because the racist orange dictator seemed kind of too cartoony. But Guy adding salami into mozzarella sticks and then adding a egg roll wrapper kind of worked. It kind of worked great. Really, we are projecting onto Guy because nowhere does it say that this is a mozzarella stick, but we just decided that it is and then we projected our own preconceived notions as to what a mozzarella stick should be. But this was fried mozzarella and salami in an egg roll and it was damn good. Even with the terrible name, which makes me embarrassed to have even read it, this was a good dish. I would make it again. I burned my hands a bunch of times on the hot oil and I stand by that. He should rename it Highway to the Danger Oil. Chris's rating: 4 out of 5 homoerotic volleyball montages.

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Allie: Then we made St. Pat's Pasta. Only Guy Fieri, or maybe a James Bond villain, would be diabolical enough to cook corned beef and cabbage and then drown it in three cups of heavy cream and half-and-half and then add PASTA to that. It was about as authentically Italian as a box of Lucky Charms and about as authentically Irish as me yelling "IT'S-A ME, MARIO" in an Olive Garden parking lot. Chris and I decided to honor and blend different cultures in a more respectful way: we mixed cheap red wine from a box with cheap white wine from a bottle to make rosé. Even when I was drunk on fake rosé, I knew this was atrocious. It might have had some kind of flavor before we added all the dairy in the world, but it ended up tasting like hot, bland ice cream. My stomach hurt for three days after we cooked this. Allie's rating: 1 out of 5 hate crimes against the Irish, who did nothing to deserve this

Chris: I was pretty happy after the fried cheese, but this recipe made me physically angry. I just wanted to grab Guy by the shoulders and shake him and ask, "WHY?!" Why did you make me make this? I guess I only have myself to blame. This cookbook is the result of America saying, remember Big Mouth Billy Bass? The plastic singing fish that you could attach to your wall? Well, he has a cookbook now! There is no thought going into this recipe! These are just 2 different foods that are combined for no good reason to make an unholy marriage of hot dumpster water. This is the second consecutive week that Guy has taken one of the least popular ethnic cuisines--IRISH FOOD---and for no reason combined it with some other food. WHY! WHYYYYYYYYYY!???  Recently, Allie told me every text message I send her sounds like the beginning of a suicide note. I can't disagree with her. It's foods like these that are pushing me over the edge. This was dumb and gross and there is no reason this should ever be cooked, and especially no reason it should have ever been included in a cookbook. Chris rating: .5 out of 5 novelty singing fish.  

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Final Summary:

Total recipes made: 45/153

Worst sentence in one of these recipes: "I said it once and I'll say it a million times... if you're gonna eat something that's not supposed to be good for you (like fried cheese), then eat the over-the-top, super-duper (yep, I said it, "super-duper") version of it. In this case, handmade fried cheese!"

Number of white wine bottles we have filled with canola oil: 1

Chris: I'm losing the very limited grip I had on reality.

Allie: TOP GUN? THIS FOOD IS MORE LIKE TOP GUNK!! I, TOO, AM LOSING MY GRIP ON REALITY, she screamed into an abyss

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meal sixteen: irish nachos, ridiculously good radicchio bundles, summer grilled pork

Chris: This meal totally snuck up on me. It’s like when you’re slowly enjoying a lollipop and then you look down and realize that it’s covered in ants. Or when you’re eating an entire six foot party sub and you look down and you realize you ruined your office’s Christmas Party. Or when you take a bite of sushi and realize that's not sushi and here come the police, and I guess you're banned from Sea World again. I didn’t have high hopes but I wasn’t prepared for the insane meat root canal that I had to endure for this meal.

Chris: The first thing we made was Irish Nachos. Finding a way to appropriate and offend two different cultures, it tasted like the combined hangovers of March 18 and May 6. Basically, we cooked frozen French fries and then dumped cheese, canned corned beef, and sauerkraut on them. There’s not much to say about these. I thought they would be bad. They were bad. The image in the cookbook was a waffle fry wearing a top hat. There was no surprise. It’s like when I saw  I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry in the theater. Can’t really be shocked that it wasn’t good. Chris's rating: 1.5 out of 5 bad Adam Sandler movies

Allie: This was pretty miserable. I love waffle fries, but apparently the grocery store we shop at is only slightly better stocked than one of the underground bunkers in The Road and they didn't have waffle fries, so we had to get regular fries instead. I thought that maybe adding cheese and corned beef to fries would be fine, and that was dumb. Of course it wasn't fine! It was a lot like the time I brought wine into the shower with me and then I got shampoo in my rosé: disappointing, but unsurprising. These "nachos" were mostly bad because Guy made us cover them in sauerkraut and horseradish. Every time we cook with horseradish now I feel like one of the velociraptors from Jurassic Park, probing Guy Fieri's recipes for weaknesses to figure out how little horseradish I can add and learning from my mistakes. Unfortunately, this recipe counted as a mistake, because I literally added one-sixth the amount of horseradish that Guy called for and it still felt like an explosion at a horseradish factory was happening in my mouth. If you like fries that are covered in sauerkraut, you will love this; otherwise, you'll be as disappointed as I was when I learned that Chris saw I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry in the theater. Allie's rating: 2 out of 5 velociraptors drinking wine in the shower (clever girls)

Chris: We also made some little radish things. Basically we put cream cheese and prosciutto and seasoning into some sort of leaf thing and then tied it with string. Then I think we grilled it? I don’t really remember. It was dumb. It kind of tasted like a gusher. But instead of being full of fruit juice it was full of cheese. And instead of my head turning into a fruit, I just got sad and laid down on the floor. Chris's Rating: 2 out of 5 cream cheese gushers

Allie: OK so by radish, Chris means radicchio, and by cream cheese, Chris means mozzarella. I basically took a bunch of radicchio leaves and I filled them with lots of stuff and I tied them with twine like a bunch of little hobo bindles and then I threw them onto a hot grill train and they went off in search of a better life (to my stomach). As with most Guy Fieri dishes, these lil bundles contained every ingredient in the world but only tasted like one: pesto. They tasted like hot pesto. They were largely inoffensive, but grilling them made them hot and greasy. When we were eating these, Chris's wife looked over at us and said "you both get so sad when you cook" and that about sums it up. Allie's rating: 3 out of 5 greasy lil bundles

Chris: FInally, we made Summer pork. In the photos and a quick scan of the recipe it appeared that it was a stuffed pork chop. But in actuality, it was essentially meat sushi. We didn’t realize this until it was too late because the recipe was maddeningly underwritten. Basically, we put down tin foil and then lay down a layer of bacon. After that we put down a layer of pork chops. The recipe called for four chops, but gave zero indication on how to lay them down. I ended up laying them down in a square, but I think that was a mistake. Finally, we made a filling of bread crumbs, cream cheese, roasted red peppers, and jalapenos. After that, we rolled the whole thing up and then grilled it in the tin foil on all four sides, then removed the tin foil and grilled it again. When it was done, we sliced it up like sushi. It was…not good. The bacon was not crispy, but the pork chops were overdone and dry. When we cut into it, the whole thing just fell apart into a pork and cream cheese mush. Look, I’m running out of ways to say that this food was bad and disappointing, so I’ll just say: Kowabunga! Chris's Rating: 2 out of 5 meat sushis

Allie: I think the picture above sums it up best: this meal both looked and tasted like an actual crime scene. The outside was undercooked and the inside was overcooked, which means that we somehow found a new pork-based way to actively flout the laws of thermodynamics. Anyway, putting cream cheese in pork tasted BAD THIS WHOLE PORK TASTED SO BAD I HATED IT SO SO MUCH. I literally ate two bites and then I stood up and walked right onto the train and went home. Allie's rating: 0 out of 5 pork entropys

Final Summary:

Total recipes made: 43/153

Worst Sentence in one of these recipes: "We all need a nacho in our life." Actually, that's kind of deep, Guy.

Next 90s Snack I want Guy to update for Flavortown: Dunkaroos! It will probably be Slim Jims with a dipping sauce of Axe body spray.

Allie: I attempted to do a nice job of plating the pork and the sauce, and it came out looking like someone dropped a ham sandwich in a puddle of elk urine. If that's not a metaphor for this meal, I don't know what is.

Chris: Irish I didn't have this blog

meal fifteen: sangria-glazed shrimp, Blazy's pepperoni lasagna

Allie: The other day I walked into the ocean and a primeval scream emanated from its watery depths, as the many shrimp who live and vote and die in the ocean realized that a monster was among them, a monster who would scoop up their children and douse them in ketchup and orange soda and eat them for no reason at all other than to see if it could be done, a monster who has gleefully wrapped entire shrimp families in bacon and doused them in butter and laughed while eating them, like some kind of terrifying Buffalo Bill of the ocean against whom all shrimp versions of Jodie Foster are powerless. I am become death, destroyer of shrimps!!!

Allie: This week, we made sangria-glazed shrimp, which is perfect for anyone who has ever thought "this glass of ice-cold sangria sure is refreshing, but I feel like it's missing... a bunch of shrimp." The picture above captures the essence of this dish quite nicely; it looks like the set of an all-shrimp remake of The Shining. I didn't want to make this because it sounded disgusting, and I hate wasting wine when wine is the only thing getting me through this blog. To be fair, I actually didn't really cook this at all; I did all the chopping and prep work and then I started to get delirious when we were making the pepperoni lasagna and I couldn't stop laughing and sweating for some reason so I sat down and stared blankly at a baseball game while Chris made it.

This shrimp wasn't as bad as it looked, but it was incredibly sweet. The glaze for the shrimp contained apple juice, orange juice, red wine, brown sugar, and honey, and the shrimp itself contained chopped Granny Smith apple and a bell pepper. So yeah, this was like eating charoset that someone made with Capri Sun. Other than that, it was fine. It would've been nice to have some kind of heat in there so it didn't taste like we were eating a shrimp Ring Pop, but I feel like that's asking for the moon at this point. Allie's rating: 2.5 out of 5 CSI: Crime Shrimp Investigation scenes

Chris: One time, when I was a kid, I was running errands with my mom in our old blue, woody Plymouth Voyager. We stopped at Mailboxes, etc and I got a lollipop. I was enjoying the hell out that lollipop when we stopped at the grocery store, and like the genius I am, I left the lollipop in the back cup holder. You know, to keep it for later. But when I got out of the store, the lollipop had melted into a rubbery, waxy soup, like a snowman left out on a sunny day. Too embarrassed and scared to tell my mom, I chipped it off the molded plastic surface with a plastic screwdriver. Now, I didn't eat it, but if I did, I'm pretty sure it would taste exactly like this shrimp. Look, shrimp is already pretty sweet as far as seafood goes. It can benefit from a little spice or saltiness to cut through it. This dish had none of that--it was just sweet on top of sweet. It's like if someone liquefied Cinnabon and made you inject it directly into your blood stream and also there was shellfish in it for some reason. Chris's rating: 2 out of 5 melted summer lollipops.

Allie: We also made Blazy's pepperoni lasagna. Who is Blazy? He's a radio DJ who Guy Fieri is friends with and who thought that the IDEA of this lasagna sounded neat, so Guy named it after him. Guy names recipes after people the way I eat Oreos: recklessly and without abandon and he should STOP. This recipe is in the "for kids" section of the cookbook, which bothers me because it's unclear if these are recipes for kids to make or if they are recipes for kids to eat. There are also only like 7 recipes in that section so it's like, see you in hell, kids, all you get to eat in Guy Fieri Land is Rhode Island chili dogs and pepperoni lasagna.

Anyway, this lasagna was dumb, but at least it was easy. Putting pepperoni in lasagna is kind of exactly what I assumed Guy Fieri food would be like, because it definitely feels like he was smushing a piece of pizza into a pan of lasagna trying to make them kiss and then a lightbulb went off over his head and now he has six TV shows. There are literally no herbs, spices or seasoning in this recipe; the little pieces of herbs you can see in the picture below are entirely from the jar of store-bought tomato sauce that we used. This lasagna tasted exactly like you think it did: it was lasagna, but it also had pepperoni in it. I have nothing more to say about it. Allie's rating: 3 out of 5 Blazys of glory

Chris: This recipe followed the durable Guy formula of being 90% pointless story and 10% incomprehensible recipe. Most of the story talks about how his dumb DJ friend wanted pepperoni in his lasagna and so he cooked pepperoni, and then sauteed veggies in the remaining fat, and then put that in the lasagna. Okay, disgusting, but basically par for the course. BUT, the actual recipe contains none of that! THERE ARE NO VEGETABLES IN THIS RECIPE. Why did you make me hear that dumb story if you weren't even going to include it in the recipe? Look, this lasagna came out fine. It wasn't anything special, in the least bit. Usually, when I make lasagna I basically follow the lasagna recipe on the back of the noodle package. This recipe was a step down from that. There was nothing unique about it, except the addition of pepperoni, which truly added nothing to the recipe. I mean at the end of this I was annoyed because both of these recipes were dumb, and it was hot in the kitchen, and Trump is president. Also this made approximately 30 square feet of lasagna and I'm still eating it ten days later. Chris's Rating: 3 out of 5 extra pounds of lasagna slowing rotting away in my fridge. 

Final Summary:

Total recipes made: 40/153

Worst sentence from one of these recipes: "The movie trailer voice over to this recipe might be: 'The dude that brought you Bloody Mary Flank Steak and the ever-popular mojito chicken, now blows it up with Sangria-Glazed Shrimp--opening tonight in a kitchen near you.'"

In case you missed it: another food person validates our beliefs that Guy's recipes are unnecessarily complicated and ultimately bland!

Allie: I just realized that this meal was basically a remake of our meal four, in which we made sangria and pepperoni dip. This meal is the Mark Wahlberg Planet of the Apes of food. Here is a "Grape Lincoln" joke.

Chris: Lasagna, like ogres, onions, and parfait, has layers. This one went marinara sauce, noodles, ricotta, sadness, mozzarella cheese, frustration, sauce, noodles, stomach discomfort, and a final layer of sauce. 

meal fourteen: chicken lettuce cups, chorizo clams, long beach coleslaw

Chris: We are almost exactly 3 months (25%) through our year-long journey of self discovery/loathing and I'm happy to report that after this meal we are almost exactly 25% through all the dishes we need to make. So we're on pace, which is really the one piece of good news I can give you. 

It's a weird thing having this blog. I rarely tell people about it too, to be honest, because it's kind of embarrassing. More often a friend will tell someone else while we are all out together and I'll have to end up explaining it. I usually start with something like, "So you know that movie Julie and Julia where she had to cook all of Julia Child's recipes in one year? We're doing that with Guy Fieri's cookbook." The responses are varied. Usually it's just sort of a furrowed brow with a nod and they say "sounds interesting." Sometimes, someone will say something like "Oh, I didn't know you were such a huge Guy Fieri fan." And I'll have to be like "No, I'm just a sarcastic asshole who can't enjoy things unironically." One time someone said, "you should have picked a better chef, like Ina Garten or something." People who have found the blog via Facebook or something sometimes have a more positive reaction. The most common reaction I get is simply, "I read your blog." Which might be a true statement, but because they never add "and it's so funny" I can usually read between the lines. 

We haven't really had much of a readership outside of our friends, as far as we can tell. We do get some random messages of support and random readers liking the page on Facebook or following our IG. A lot of friends and family of ours haven't read it, which is fine. I guess what I'm getting at is this motivation for this blog at this point is our own satisfaction/stubbornness. Writing this blog is an inherently self-indulgent act. I am really enjoying getting to spend a lot of time with my friend, after we lived in different parts of the country for the past five years. I'm enjoying cooking more, for the most part. And I like having a writing project. There are surprisingly other people that have started other similar blogs around the web, and they seem to have given up at around the 3-month mark. We're gonna keep pressing ahead and I hope you stick with us! 

Allie: That was beautifully written and I agree with everything you said, Chris, except I think the people I talk to about this blog usually have stronger reactions about it (people have OPINIONS about Guy Fieri!!). Despite the fact that most of the food we cook has all the flavor, crunch and attitude of a Southwest boarding pass, it's been fun to force myself to cook foods I never cook on my own (mostly shrimp) (so much shrimp). I haven't told anyone I work with about this blog, and I have to say, I 100% understand why Batman keeps his identity a secret, because explaining something that's inherently pretty dumb (mixing ketchup with orange soda, dressing up like a bat) takes a lot of time and energy and there's so much NUANCE to cram in there and ultimately you just sound dumb and like you enjoy wasting money. Anyway, thanks for reading this blog! I am the batman now.

Chris: We first made chicken lettuce cups! This dish felt most like something you'd find at PF Chang's. Yea, I just googled it--they have this at PF Chang's. This recipe really highlighted something that drives me crazy about this cookbook. Guy clearly wrote this book with no regard for how people actually cook. This recipe had twenty-nine ingredients (29!!!) and a full ten of those were various Asian spices and sauces that were needed for 1 tablespoon or less and won't be needed again for the rest of the book. So if you want to make this at home you are going to be dropping $20+ on various sauces just to make this one dish. It's maddening! I will say, this came out pretty good. It felt like the least authentic Asian food I've ever eaten. Like if you got Panda Express at a Greyhound station in rural Kansas, it would probably taste like this. But it was pretty tasty and I think I'd make it again. Mostly because I now have $20 worth of Asian sauces in my cupboard and what else am I gonna use these for. Chris's rating: 4 out of 500 tablespoons of available sauces.

Allie: Piggybacking off of what Chris was saying: who is this cookbook for?? When we started this project, I would have said "Steve Harwell." Now, 25% into this cookbook, I have no idea. Some of the recipes make 2 servings and some of the recipes make 10 servings. Is this book for families who want to make quick, flavorful weeknight meals? Because most of these recipes require hundreds of ingredients, a cauldron, and a geologically significant chunk of time. Is it for people who want to be blown away by strong flavors and stretch their cooking skills? Because 90% of these recipes start with cooking onions in bacon grease and include no other herbs or spices. There's no overarching connection between any of these recipes, and there's really no theme to the book beyond "one time I ate chicken with Sammy Hagar".

Anyway, I have a soft spot for Americanized mall Chinese food, so I enjoyed these. We had to halve this recipe so we didn't end up with a flotilla of chicken lettuce cups, but we also tend to drink continuously while we cook so I forgot to halve the ingredients for the sauce and we ended up with twice as much sauce as we needed. (We have to halve or quarter or sixth the ingredients in all of these recipes and it's always like the scene in Good Will Hunting where Matt Damon solves the equation in the hallway except we're usually both drunk and bad at math. Also we don't end up solving the equation. To answer your question, it's nothing like Good Will Hunting) Anyway, my inability to do math turned out to be fine because using twice the amount of sauce actually added a normal amount of flavor to the food. Also, Guy wanted us to fry up some wonton wrappers and crumble them into our lettuce cups and when I read that I threw the cookbook down the stairs and Chris let me skip that step. Allie's rating: 4 out of 5 Cajun equations, which is a Guy Fieri math textbook that also gives you indigestion

Chris: Next, we made this Rhode Island coleslaw and boy did it straight up suck. I actually think I participated 0% in the making of this but I ate a few bites afterwords and it was super bland. I don't even really like coleslaw that much when it's good, but this was bad coleslaw like you'd find in a Greyhound station in rural Kansas. I don't even have much to say about this except most of it ended up getting thrown away. Chris's rating: 1 out of 5.

P.S. I now know this is called Long Island Coleslaw. There was nothing "Long Island" about it, so it didn't really stick with me. I guess maybe he called it Long Island because like when you mix all the alcohols together to make a long island iced tea, it's supposed to taste good, but it doesn't, and this was just a bunch of crap mixed together that I assume was supposed to taste good, but did not. 

P.P.S. It appears I was wrong again. It is Long Beach Coleslaw. The world is a dark place.  

Allie: Thank you for the round-the-world coleslaw tour. The best part of making this was that one of the steps was basically "squeeze a whole bottle of blue cheese dressing into a bowl of lettuce" and I kept making eye contact with Chris while I was squeezing the dressing into the bowl and yelling "I'M COOKING". It was dumb, but so was this coleslaw. It tasted like the absence of flavor. If you were on the moon and took off your space helmet, the last gulp of non-atmosphere nothingness that you would be able to taste before you died would probably taste like this dumb coleslaw. Allie's rating: 1 out of 5 space deaths

Chris: Finally, we made chorizo clams. Allie and I went shopping at Jewel, which isn't the fanciest grocery store, but I was pleasantly surprised they had clams, and the clams were on sale. I told Allie I would pick out the clams, and she could go start with the rest of the list. You know the old slug lady who worked in the file room in Monsters, Inc? Yea, she was working behind the seafood counter at Jewel. I asked for 2 lbs of clams, which she slowly counted out one by one. About 3/4 of the way through she lost count and had to start again. It took so long that Allie finished the ENTIRE rest of the shopping list while I was standing in the clam line.  What a ca-clamity. 

I really like steamed clams! The broth of these clams were chorizo, garlic, a little bit of jalapeno, and some oil. I've only made clams myself in like a white wine sauce, so I was hoping these would be something different. I used to wait tables at a restaurant and one of the cooks there was Mexican and he used to make me jalapeno steamed clams which I loved and were super spicy and good. These were, SHOCKER, not as good. They weren't bad by any stretch, and I thoroughly enjoyed them, but the broth was pretty bland. Still, clams are rarely something I make for myself on a weeknight, so it was still a nice treat. What I like about making clams is they are alive in the fridge and they open and close and talk to you and say, "Chris, what are you doing with your life?" Chris's rating: 4.5 out of 5 ca-clamities.  

Allie: I offhandedly said "clams are kind of weird" and Chris spent the whole night saying "are you afraid of the clams" and "are you afraid the clams are going to eat you" and "don't be afraid of the clams". It was annoying. Again, I don't really eat seafood so I had never cooked clams before but it was easier than I thought it would be. It's weird that we murdered a bunch of clams, right? I don't really remember these clams. They were fine. I liked the broth and I dipped my bread in it. My smoke detector has gone off three times since I started writing this paragraph even though there is NO fire here and I feel like it's a higher power trying to remind me of something about these clams. I am going to feel very dumb in heaven if there actually is a fire and it's not just God trying to remind me that these clams actually had a nice level of spice and flavor to them. Wait, did it work? Allie's rating: 3.5 out of 5 clam-tastrophes

Final Summary:

Total dishes made: 38/153

Worst sentence in one of these recipes: "Just imagine the scene--there's no electricity or running water, and everyone is just sitting around eating lettuce cups...Crazy!"

First sentence of the Wikipedia on Long Beach, CA: "The Port of Long Beach is the second busiest container port in the United States and is among the world's largest shipping ports. The city also maintains a progressively declining oil industry with minor wells located both directly beneath the city as well as offshore." OH NOW I SEE WHY HE CALLED IT LONG BEACH COLESLAW

Chris: If we were to stop this project right now, we'd get a 25%, which is an F. That seems about right. 

Allie: Yeah but this blog is definitely going on our permanent record

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meal thirteen: the big dunkee, lamb loin chops with mint pesto, Louisiana BBQ shrimp

Allie: The best part about this cooking blog is that every week we get closer to the end, and soon this will all just feel like a hazy, booze-soaked dream. One of my greatest fears is that when I'm older, my memory will start to go, and my grandchildren will have to crowd around me on my deathbed to remind me of what a beautiful, memorable life I led. "Don't you remember, Grandma?" they'll say. "You worked so hard to get a Ph.D.! You traveled across the world and saw its many wonders! You became genuinely excited when you realized that you could buy pre-cooked shrimp for your Guy Fieri cooking blog, thus shaving a solid three minutes off the cooking time of each shrimp recipe! Oh, Grandma, you devoted so many hours of your life to complaining about the index of Guy Fieri's cookbook to people who Googled 'is sadness contagious' after speaking with you at cocktail parties. What a life you've led!"

Allie: We ended up taking a long, luxurious week off because I originally planned to cook three Guy Fieri dishes twelve hours before I was scheduled to move to a new apartment, and once I realized that is what I had done, my brain exploded and we went to go eat some BBQ instead. We got right back on the horse this week by cooking Louisiana BBQ shrimp, which I guess is the next step in Guy's endless quest to murder every shrimp he sees. It's almost like he has... no shrimpulse control. Maybe he's just being... shellfish. Maybe, in the chess game of life, Guy is just a... prawn. Please do not host a fintervention (shark intervention) to make me stop making seafood puns!!!

Anyway, in contrast to its name, this shrimp isn't barbecued; like any true Louisiana home cooks, we cooked it in a toaster oven. Also, this dish didn't really have any kind of Louisiana or Cajun flavor to it, which I guess is par for the course at this point. Anyway, this was fine. It was basically buttery shrimp and its name didn't make me want to start hunting the members of Smash Mouth for sport, so that's a double plus in my book. Allie's rating: 3 out of 5 if they make a movie about this recipe it should star Demi Moore and be called "Shrimptease" THAT'S MY TIME THANKS

Chris: In a book full of weird, this recipe was weird. It had us cook onions and garlic, and then drizzle them over shrimp, which I baked for five minutes. Then I removed the onions and garlic again and cooked them with some butter. Then, I dumped the onion, garlic, and butter BACK onto the shrimp. It ended up tasting fine, but man, there's gotta be a better way. This was like if Guy had a recipe for cereal (how does he not have a recipe for cereal?? It feels up his alley), and the instructions were to pour the cereal in a bowl, and then pour the milk on it. Then take the milk out and put it on the stove and cook it, and then chill it in the fridge and then pour the chilled milk back on the cereal. Ugh, why am I giving him ideas? Anyway, this was fine. I'm really digging the pre-cooked shrimp recipes. They hit the sweet spot between "easy to make" and "inoffensive flavor". And we're still on our first bag of frozen shrimp. Chris's rating: 3 out of 5 bowls of Funky Nut CheerioYOs (that's probably what Guy would name his cereal, duh).

Allie: We also made Lamb Loin Chops with Mint Pesto. In keeping with the theme of this blog, I did not grow up eating lamb, because apparently I'm just a shrimpless, lambless rube who stumbled across the internet one day by mistake.

Chris: Allie, I'm starting to think you just ate wonder bread and a warm glass of water for every meal growing up.

Allie: Joke's on you, because we were a PEPPERIDGE FARM FAMILY. Look, I'll skip the preamble, which is probably just a bunch of puns (I should have called it THE PRELAMBLE): this dish was great. It was also easy - we just marinated the lamb, whipped up a quick pesto, and grilled the meat. We may have deviated from Guy's plan (which is like God's plan, but creamier), because Chris's wife and I made the pesto and we didn't really measure the ingredients, we just threw them in a Cuisinart while we drank rose. That strategy clearly worked, though, because the pesto was bright and well-balanced and a great complement to the lamb, which was tasty and well-cooked. I was really worried going into this because lamb is pretty expensive, and spending a lot of time and money on a Guy Fieri recipe feels like you're picking up rats on the street and putting them on your head in the hopes that one of them will start pulling your hair and making you cook gourmet food, Ratatouille-style: usually you end up bleeding and ravaged by a rat-based disease, but once in a while, you end up with a plate of really nicely cooked lamb. Allie's rating: 5 out of 5 similes that got away from me

Chris: This was basically the opposite of every other recipe in this book. It was simple, elegant, and easy. I don't know what Guy was thinking, to be honest. Pretty soon he's gonna be wearing his sunglasses over his eyes like a regular shmo. I don't think its revolutionary to focus on fresh ingredients and classic flavor combinations, prepared properly, but this is the first time that I feel like the recipe was pretty gimmick-free. You could probably sub it into a normal chef's cook book and not bat an eye. This was good. Chris's rating: 5 out of 5 slices of wonder bread dipped in warm water.

Allie: Finally, we made "The Big Dunkee" Pepper Jack and Horseradish Double Baked Potatoes. What a dumb fucking name for a potato. I kind of just want to end this entry there but for the sake of ENLIGHTENMENT I will tell you about this potato which has a stupid terrible name. It took thirty years to cook and it included one thousand ingredients and ultimately it just tasted like horseradish. You have to cook the potato and then scrape out the insides and mix them with a battalion of dairy products and then you shove them back inside the potato skins and cook them, so yeah, these "Big Dunkees" are essentially horseradish-laden potato canopic jars. If Guy Fieri gets to call donkeys "dunkees" then I get to call spiders "speeders" and toucans "teecorns" and flamingos "deathprancers" because NOTHING MATTERS ANYMORE. Allie's rating: 2 out of 5 potato canopic jars

Chris: I haven't made twice baked potatoes before. I don't know if they are always meant to be arduous tests of patience/mental health/friendship. But man, these pushed me to my limit. They took forever to cook, the recipe was maddeningly underwritten--this recipe is 2 pages long and 3/4 of that is a pointless story about how his friend pronounces Donkey as "Dunkee" and so they nicknamed him Dunkee and this potato reminded Guy of him, it was super hard to scoop the insides of the potatoes out, we had to keep the oven on for like 2 hours at 450 and I was sweating like Guy during the SAT's, the filling was all horseradish, TRUMP IS PRESIDENT, everything is terrible. Chris's rating: 2 out of 5 failed tests of patience/mental health/friendship.

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Final Summary:

Total dishes made: 35/153

Worst sentence in one of these recipes: "We were in there cooking it up, going after it, and (this is not a joke) by the time were done there was not a single clean pot or pan left (and I have lots of pots and pans)."

Is sadness contagious?: Google says YES! Take that, people who aren't interested in hearing about how Guy calls his guides "Guy'ds"! It's your pain now!!

Allie: Big dunkee, that funky dunkee/Big Dunkee junkie/that funky dunkee

Chris: Lampchop's play along/where kids come to play along/and fun things is all we ever do

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meal twelve: bacon-wrapped shrimp with chipotle bbq sauce, guid-moc-shoe, big bud's beer can chicken

Chris: I shouldn’t be shocked, but more than two months into this project, Guy still finds ways to surprise me. It’s like a marriage—you gotta mix things up or it’s going to get stale. It’s the little things he does: the way he hides typos in a recipe, the subtle way he can sneak bacon into any dish, and despite all of our time together, he still finds new ways to make me laugh. No, laugh isn’t right, what’s the word I’m thinking of? Oh--cry. This time, he made me rethink everything I thought I knew about cooking.

First, we started with bacon-wrapped shrimp with chipotle BBQ sauce. This is one of my favorite recipes I’ve ever made. Not because it was good (it was fine) but because it was super easy: 1) we already made the chipotle BBQ sauce for the hot links Cajun pasta thing. Because we are cool geniuses with tons of forethought WE FROZE SOME OF IT. And then we were able to use to it for this recipe. 2) We needed shrimp for our orange soda/ketchup shrimp cocktail/lobotomy and for this dish so WE BOUGHT EXTRA AND LEFT IT IN THE FREEZER FOR A COUPLE WEEKS. 3) Finally, because every dish needs bacon anyway, WE ALREADY HAD SOME BACON ON HAND. I mean, it wasn’t enough (between the 3 recipes we made, we needed a pound and a half of bacon), but it was a start. In conclusion, this was exactly like that show that used to be on, Semi Home Made with Sandra Lee, and I shoddily wrapped bacon around shrimp and doused them with BBQ sauce in a grill pan and ate it. It was easy, and for the first time ever, I think, our preparedness actually paid off. Chris’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5 nuggets of forethought

Allie: Man, any recipe that involves wrapping shrimp in bacon and smothering it in a super-spicy sauce might as well be called "Sorry, Jews, You Should Find Another Appetizer; I Think There's A Cheese Plate Around Here Somewhere", but little does Guy Fieri know, one time I ate a bacon egg and cheese sandwich on Yom Kippur, so I am basically the least kosher Jew on the face of the planet. Then again, Guy Fieri's version of matzo ball soup probably involves mounds of crushed-up Bugles floating in a puddle of Tang, so who cares. My expectations for this were astonishingly low, which paid off, because I really enjoyed it. This is the first meal we've made where the bacon has actually complemented the rest of the food, as its fattiness worked well against both the texture of the shrimp and the spiciness of the sauce. I definitely felt like Sandra Lee, because we used pre-cooked shrimp in this recipe, and one time Sandra Lee made a tapenade recipe in which the main ingredient was store-bought tapenade (not a joke). I guess the moral of the story is to have standards so low that you're pleasantly surprised whenever something you put in your mouth doesn't taste like you're licking a stop sign. Allie's rating: 4 out of 5 tang puddles

Chris: Next, we made Guid-Moc-Shoe. Look, I know I sound like a broken record here, but I was really excited to make this! For weeks, Allie would ask what I wanted to cook, and I would sing this amazing song I wrote where all the words are “Guid Moc Shoe.” It’s to the tune of Witch Doctor by Alvin and the Chipmunks and it’s super catchy. Both my wife and Allie pretended to hate it, but I would hear them humming it sometimes. Anyway, this was full of tons of fresh, summer vegetables and I expected it to taste kind of like cowboy caviar, if you’ve ever had that. Just a bunch of chopped up onion, corn, bell peppers, jalepeno and a little bacon. But when we made it, it came out super heavy and kind of had the consistency of wallpaper paste. It was a stunning disappointment in a blog full of them, but it hardly prepared me for the Beer Can Chicken. Chris’s Rating: 2 out of 5 ruined amazing parody songs

Allie: One of my favorite foods is corn, because I'm part turtle! Growing up, my mom wouldn't let us eat corn unless it was during the four-day span in August she decided was "corn season", so it carried a lot of mystique in our house (at least for me, but I'll save that for my upcoming Billy Crystal-esque one-woman show, "700 Corndays"). When I went to college, I realized that you could buy frozen corn ANY TIME OF THE YEAR so while everyone else was drinking rum out of water bottles I was microwaving bowls of frozen corn in a bowl I later found out was NOT microwave-safe. It was totally nuts, you guys. I was also very popular and had a lot of friends!!! Now I have a stupid Guy Fieri blog where I buy corn and ruin it.

For this dish, we had to grill the corn and the peppers and then cut them up and cook them in bacon grease with a bunch of other stuff. Chopping all of the ingredients took approximately four thousand centuries. Apparently this dish is Guy's version of "corn maque choux", a dish I had never heard of and now have googled one hundred times in my quest for answers. Most of the other recipes I found just involved sauteing veggies and adding some cream, but Guy's version calls for three tablespoons of flour, which created a texture that was as grainy as a sepia-tinged photograph of a man with a mustache. I knew it was going to be bad when I said "I don't see how this dish could be bad!" There was absolutely no reason to grill the corn and peppers beforehand. We're 12 meals in and I'm running out of ways to say "I thought this meal was extremely disappointing", so instead, I'll say, what are the Indigo Girls up to? Has anyone heard from them recently? Allie's rating: 2 out of 5 wishes that this meal was closer to fine

Chris: OK, so we made beer can chicken. This is one of the most “Guy” dishes I think we’ve made yet. Like when you think of Guy Fieri you probably picture him there, sunburned skin and frosted tips, jamming a can of beer up a chicken’s butt. And even though that seems kind of crazy, beer can chicken is a thing I’ve heard of and have always been sort of curious to try. I mean, the New York Times has written about it. I even wrote an amazing song to the tune of the Folgers jingle that went “the best part of waking up, is putting beer in a chicken’s butt.” But this chicken just broke me. It basically gaslighted me. It made me not know what to believe anymore.

Allie: I was also kind of excited for this, because I've never cooked beer can chicken before, and I was excited to find a recipe that combined my two favorite activities, which are drinking and worrying about things catching on fire. So we bought a little tiny chicken for $4 at Jewel and brought it home and got to work ruining it. First, we made a paste of every spice in the world and spread half of it under the chicken's skin and the other half on the inside of the chicken. I thought that was a weird place to season the chicken, but what the hell do I know, I don't have a PhD in spicy chickens. Then, Guy said to pour out half the beer and stick the can containing the remaining beer inside the chicken. Chris somehow became convinced that meant he had to pour half of the beer in the pan containing the chicken, but I wasn't really able to debate that point with him because I was busy chopping seven hundred onions to make guid-moc-shoe and also I didn't care. Finally, we had to drape bacon all around the chicken, for no apparent reason other than that Guy is incapable of not doing that. When we were done, we had a little chicken perched on a beer can with tendrils of bacon streaming out of its neck cavity, like a horrific redneck bouquet or something the eye-hands monster from Pan's Labyrinth would bring to a BBQ. Then we cooked the chicken and the real fun began!

Chris: When the chicken came out, the bacon was burned to a crisp. I took a piece off and ate it and it tasted disgusting and so I told Allie, “don’t eat that.” But she didn’t listen to me and ate it anyway and said, “that was disgusting.” But most importantly, I still, days later, do not know whether this chicken was done or not. I know that’s not really a subjective thing. Like I can hear you saying chicken is either cooked or it’s not, this shouldn’t be a question. But all my senses and experience in-fought with each other, leaving me stumped. I made a chart.

After weighing the evidence, I have no idea whether this chicken was cooked. In the end, we both had a few bites, but we didn’t want to risk food poisoning for this dumb blog, and so we mostly stayed away. It’s entirely possible that we just screwed up, and this chicken is delicious if prepared properly, but I really do think we attempted to follow this recipe very closely. We used an oven thermometer and an instant read to double check safe temperatures. I really can’t imagine what we made is what Guy envisioned for this recipe. Maybe this one was on us, but you know what, if it’s okay with everyone I’m just gonna blame Guy. Chris’s rating: 0 out of 5 chicken brain teasers.

Allie: When this chicken came out of the oven, I decided to google other beer can chicken recipes and I noticed a bunch of things. First of all, many angry internet people were claiming that putting beer cans inside chicken may not be good for you because of chemicals (?). I have literally no idea whether this is true or not, but the fact that neither Chris nor I paused for even a single second to wonder whether it was a good idea to give a chicken a metal endoskeleton tells me that we don't have very good survival instincts. Also, many of the pictures of beer can chicken on the internet looked golden brown and crispy. Guy's recipe called for the chicken to be draped in bacon and cooked at a pretty low heat, which meant that the resulting chicken wasn't brown and crispy. It was just pale and wet. It was the wettest chicken I have ever eaten.

Like Chris said, it was impossible to tell whether this chicken was soggy or raw, but I don't know, because I don't have a PhD in wet chickens. It was also super bland; it's kind of amazing how many spices we can add to these dishes and still have them taste like we're just chewing on the liner notes of a Sublime CD. The best part of this meal was when I didn't eat any of it, and then my roommate and I ordered Domino's when I got home, and it was the best Domino's I've ever eaten. IT HAD SO MUCH FLAVOR!! Allie's rating: 0.5 out of 5 little soggy chickens (the 0.5 is because I got to order pizza)

Final Summary:

Total dishes made: 32/153

Worst sentence in one of these recipes: "This recipe began with a good ol' American Budweiser--one for the bird, one for me. So the name stuck!"

What happens when you google "wet chicken": You end up on a message board for owners of chickens who are unsure if it's OK to leave chickens outside when it rains. Spoiler alert: OF COURSE IT IS

Chris: Beer can chicken is fake news

Allie: We named the chicken Reginald; he died for nothing

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meal eleven: pizza dough, cajun crab and asparagus pie, the french pig pizza, kale with roasted beets and bacon, cherry cobbler pizza

Allie: For our next cooking nightmare, we decided to devote a rainy Saturday to knocking out a bunch of Guy's pizzas. Chris was insistent that we cook all of the pizzas at once, "like a pizza party", even though parties are traditionally fun things that people like and not joyless parades through mundane hellscapes that are full of orange soda, like if David Lynch directed a Burger King commercial. For example, the greatest party anthem of all time, "This Is How We Do It", is mostly about feeling happy and hanging out with friends, not cooking Cajun pastas and holding in farts. Anyway, I naively blundered into our cooking session thinking that we were relatively safe, because how could Guy ruin pizza?? That was a dumb thing to think. OF COURSE Guy Fieri can ruin pizza!!

We decided to commemorate our "pizza" "party" by bringing aboard our very first guest cook/contributor! Our friend Heather is a very smart lawyer who also once ate a plate of ribs at an art museum, so we knew she'd be down for spending a big chunk of her weekend pouring a can of pie filling onto a pizza crust. She's also a great cook, and we've included some of her well-reasoned critiques of Guy's food below, underneath all the dumb jokes I wrote about Billy Zane and all the dumb jokes Chris will probably write about Paul Giamatti.

Chris:  Spoiler alert: this pizza tasted as saggy as Paul Giamatti’s face looks.

I was excited to have Heather guest on the blog, because she is a talented, classy chef and if I've learned anything from Paula Abdul, it's that opposites attract! A few weeks ago, Heather had us over and made us several Ina Garten recipes. which were loaded with fresh ingredients and simple, elegant flavors. It was like the antidote to Guy Fieri. Like if Guy Fieri was a disease… like I said, it was like the antidote to Guy Fieri. Anyway, I wanted to see how someone who knows how to cook good, normal food would react to the future bathroom disaster that is all Guy Fieri cuisine. Would her circuits overload like a robot who had orange soda poured on it? Or would she be able to elevate Guy Fieri food like some sort of Flavortown Brobot powered by orange soda?

The asscrabus/crabsparagus pizza

The asscrabus/crabsparagus pizza

Allie: We made two savory pizzas using Guy's prime-time pizza crust: the French pig pizza and a Cajun crab and asparagus pizza. We also made a cherry cobbler pizza and kale with roasted beets and bacon. Two days ago I just wrote "the savory pizzas were bad" in a draft and saved it and then I saw it again tonight and now I just keep staring at it and nodding. The sweet pizza was also bad. The crabsparagus pizza (cook it, live it, love it) (Chris: I prefer “asscrabus” pizza) was the best pizza we made, which is kind of like saying that mud is better than wet dirt. The Cajun sauce was super bland, and I could barely taste the crab. The French Pig pizza was barely a pizza. For example, it didn't have a sauce. It was just leeks and apples and pancetta and brie loosely piled on a mound of chewy dough. Call me crazy, but to me a pizza without a sauce is just a flatbread, just like Titanic without Billy Zane is just a movie about a leaky boat.

The kale with roasted beets and bacon was fine, but Guy weirdly refuses to call it a salad and it is classified as a "side dish" instead of as a "salad" in this book. I genuinely don't know when something stops being a pile of leafy greens and starts being a salad, but I hope it's when it stops being polite and starts getting real. The cherry cobbler pizza is perfect for anyone who can't decide between eating a cherry cobbler and eating a pizza but just knows that they want to be disappointed. The best thing I can say is that if this pizza were any more forgettable, it would be Sam Worthington. I keep forgetting about it mid-sentence.

Allie's ratings:

Crabsparagus Pizza: 2.5 out of 5 remember Sam Worthingtons?
French Pig pizza: 2 out of 5 he was in that Terminator movie
Cherry Cobbler Pizza: 1 out of 5 and Avatar
Kale with roasted beets and bacon: 2.5 out of 5 and Everest, which I watched when I went through a phase where I only watched movies about mountaineering disasters; it was fine

The French pig

The French pig

Chris: The best thing I can say about these pizzas is that we checked a bunch of recipes off the list. 

I had high hopes for these doughs! Oh boy did I! I keep getting my hopes up, only to have them crushed over and over again. It must be the Cubs fan in me. The whole wheat dough recipe was basically incomprehensible. I would say it seems like it was edited by a horse wearing a bandanna, but that would be insulting to bandannas, which are a good fashion accessory, and horses, which are a good source of glue. Specifically, the whole wheat dough called for 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 1.5 cups of all purpose flour, and 1.5 cups of water. Later, the recipe changed its mind and only called for 1 cup of all purpose flour. But if you only added one cup of flour, it was way too watery. OK, we figured, that must be a typo, and he really meant 1.5 cups like he originally said. Nope. When you added 1.5 cups it came out super dry--basically the consistency and flavor of low tide. I resisted the temptation to just jump out the window (neither my first nor my last mistake of the day), and added a little flour and a little water until it resembled dough. And it seemed like it might be OK, but really that was just the eye of the storm.

First, we made the asscrabus pizza, which is the next insult in Guy's never-ending quest to make Cajun cream sauce a staple. It didn't taste like crab, or Cajun food. It did kind of taste like asparagus and cheese. The French pig one was really an insult to French people, who make nice wine, and pigs, whose feet make a fine source of gelatin. It had like 100 ingredients on it, which all canceled each other out. Like when you mix all the paints together and make brown. This tasted brown. The dessert pizza was pizza crust, cherry pie filling, and oatmeal. And it tasted like less than the sum of its parts, which is a true accomplishment. The topping was incredibly dry. It tasted like when they cover puke with sawdust at Disneyland, but there was mascarpone cheese on the top.

Overall, these three pizzas sucked. Sometimes, when I rate these recipes I think, "Would I like this dish more than nothing?i.e., if there was no food in the house except for Guy Fieri food, would I eat that? And that very scenario happened to me with the French pig. We had a couple slices left over in the fridge, and we were trying to clean out the fridge before we left for vacation. All we had in the fridge was like 2 slices of awful Guy Fieri pizza, a jar of jalapenos, and some batteries. And I thought about eating the batteries, but instead I decided to try the French Pig again, and it was so bad I just went to bed hungry instead of eating. 

Chris' Ratings:

Asscrabus Pizza: 2 out of 5 cheesy ass crabs
French Pig: 1.5 out of 5 brown
Cherry Cobbler Pizza: 2 out of 5 sawdust pies

As I wrote these ratings, I realized I forgot to talk about the beet and kale thing. It was fine. I'm writing this significantly after our cooking date and I can't remember really anything about it. It wasn't bad, it wasn't good, it wasn't really healthy or heavy, it just was. 

Chris's Rating: 2.5 out of 5 beige Switzerlands  

Cherry cobbler pizza

Cherry cobbler pizza

Heather: I came into this experience with a very open mind. I know how how deep in the experience you guys are and thought maybe I could be a positive influence to make you rethink some criticisms. But it wasn’t long before I was saying “it will be fine” as much as you guys. In fact, I’ve never in my life heard/used the phrase “it will be fine” so many times in a day. The thing is (and I cook a lot and I interact with a lot of new recipes from a variety of chefs), in normal cooking you don’t need constant reassurance from your friends because a recipe is supposed to walk you through any moment where you may wonder “is this right?”

Both pizzas had a lot of ingredients and not a lot of flavor. I know this is a theme in the blog, but I really experienced it firsthand. First of all, this should never be a problem with anything labeled “Cajun”, like the sauce for the crabsparagus pizza. You couldn’t even taste the sauce (which I almost, to my demise, thought was hummus with olive oil drizzled on top as it sat and coagulated on the counter and ate some on a cracker. Bullet dodged, though I probably wouldn’t have tasted it enough to tell the difference.).

The leek and apple pizza felt like it had to be good because it had a lot of things I like and might combine in an appetizer (and not in a really heavy slice of pizza), but it was also VERY BLAND. I think that Guy doesn’t understand how to balance flavors along the way, because while this should have been well-rounded and intriguing, cooking leeks and apples in pancetta grease actually sucked out the brightness that they were supposed to contribute to cut through the buttery brie just like this experience sucked the joy out of a casual Saturday with friends.

I don’t even want to talk about the dessert pizza, except to say that if this is what a “pizza payday” looks like, as Guy mentions in the description, then sign me up for unemployment because I would like to quit whatever job leads to this payday. 

I also forgot about the kale thing, but I think it was on us for using baby kale. It just can't stand up to heat like regular kale and it wilts like spinach or arugula would. But the bacon here again detracted from what could be a nice, bright side dish. Altogether, and especially if you use regular kale, this could be OK. If I were rewriting this, I would make it a plain, uncooked kale salad with beets and replace the salty bite of bacon with something like feta. Even with our poor choices on the kale, I would never make it again, even with Guy's compelling argument that "kale, beets and bacon sounds like a cool band playing in the Flavortown Civic Auditorium" because not only do I not think that is true, but because I have officially exercised my right to vote with my feet and moved out of Flavortown, which I believe is engaged in a race to the bottom. 

Overall, this experience left me with no recipes I'd go back to, but I feel closer to my friends because that's often a byproduct of collective trauma. 

Kale and beets and stuff

Kale and beets and stuff

Final thoughts:

Total dishes made: 29/153

Worst sentence in one of these recipes: "Come on now, I could put pancetta, Brie, leeks, and apples on a flip flop and you would love it..." (That may have tasted better than the actual pizza)

Places I've had pizza that tasted better than Guy Fieri pizza: Terminal A at Washington-Reagan Airport, Chimpy's Pizza Safari in Libertyville, IL, an old pizza lunchable I found

Allie: I just read the wikipedia article for the Sam Worthington movie where Octavia Spencer plays God and it was way more fun than eating any of these pizzas

Chris: I'm sorry Heather

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meal ten: fire-roasted shrimp cocktail, penne with cajun hot links and chipotle shrimp

Chris: Ah yes, meal ten, in which I was required to mix ketchup with orange soda. This feels like something I'm not coming back from.

But before we get to that, I want to tell you about one of our sponsors, Dude Apron. Dude Apron is a meal service that ships low-quality ingredients, in all the wrong proportions, with poorly copy edited Guy Fieri recipes, directly to your door. All you have to add is your own garbage and your own alcohol, and you're all set for a frustrating evening shouting obscenities as you slave over a hot stove to make bland, disappointing food. If you go to Dude Apron's website, click on the barbed wire tattoo and enter the offer code: "kill me please," you will get $10 off your first Dude Apron Box. Dude Apron: What's the opposite of farm to table? Factory to TGI Fridays leftover container? That's us.

And now back to the blog.

Chris: Allie and I decided to buy as much cheap frozen shrimp as possible and knock out a few of these shrimp dishes. The fire-roasted shrimp cocktail required us to marinate the shrimp in seasoning for an hour and then make a cocktail sauce. First, Guy tried to make us make "grilled ketchup." I saw grilled ketchup referenced in the recipe and didn't realize that GUY HAS A RECIPE FOR KETCHUP IN THIS COOKBOOK. He'd referenced this "grilled ketchup" on a previous occasion, but I just disregarded it, like when a dude tries to give you a "free" rap CD on the subway, because I don't have time to listen to the ramblings of a crazy person, and if you take it, you'll probably have to pay like $20. But grilled ketchup is a real recipe I'm supposed to make. No big deal, I figure, I'll just make it next time a recipe calls for it. But the only other recipe that requires grilled ketchup is FRIES, a dish I already had to make! Plus, I didn't have the time or ingredients to make it for this shrimp cocktail, so it looks like I'm going to have to make grilled ketchup sometime later this year for no reason at all! I'm just gonna be sitting there on the subway, listening to my $20 free rap CD, eating a big ole bowl of grilled ketchup, thinking "I deserve this."

Surprisingly, this wasn't the worst revelation I had that evening, because, yup, this cocktail sauce starts with a base of ketchup and orange soda. And Guy doesn't even apologize for it or anything. He doesn't say "Look folks, I know this is weird, but stick with me." He just slips it in there like it's no big deal. But it is a big deal. As soon as I poured that orange soda into the ketchup, I knew that my life would never be the same. I just felt somehow different. Like from now on I'd have to disclose this on job applications.

Allie: As my mom told me after she read our blog post about how we ate garbage, "Chris is so MELODRAMATIC." But yeah, it was gross mixing ketchup with orange soda. I actually had never eaten shrimp cocktail before this, because I was too busy spending my childhood getting trashed on Shirley Temples at Bat Mitzvahs to develop a lasting love of seafood. Apparently other people like shrimp cocktail, so it bums me out that my first introduction to a thing people like was through the demon's palate of a spiky-haired he-crab. That would be like if you had never been to Disney World before, and then you got there and realized that it was just a bowl of ketchup mixed with orange soda. Like all classy food, we ended up pouring it into a martini glass and jamming a bunch of crackers into it. Then we yelled "WELCOME TO HELL, SHRIMP", because if someone murdered me and all of my friends and poured us into a martini glass full of orange ketchup soda sauce I would be FURIOUS.

Chris: The ketchup didn't really fully dissolve in the orange soda, so it was just kind of red and chunky. I ate a spoonful of it because nothing matters anymore and I can say unequivocally it was the worst thing I've eaten for this blog. The idea of orange soda with ketchup sounded so awful and disgusting I kind of thought that it might be unexpectedly good. Like when two terrible things come together to somehow make something great (see for example that time Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers teamed up). But this wasn't one of those times. This was more like that time Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow teamed up.

However, I have to admit that once we added in the marinated shrimp, it cut through the crazy sweetness of the orange soda and ketchup slurry, and it actually was pretty good. I mean it wasn't great, but even a dead cat will bounce. Chris's rating: 2.5 out of 5 crappy duets.

Allie: I just spent a lot of time reading the comments on Guy's online recipe for this, and apparently the key is to specifically use Fanta-brand orange soda? We didn't get that memo, so we used Refreshe-brand orange soda, which we bought because it was like 40 cents and it looked lonely. It tasted like a family of moths died in a glass of Tang. We mixed it with red wine to make Lazy Sangria, which is the rare cocktail that is a waste of both wine and orange soda. Later, when I got home, I mixed the leftover orange soda with a little bit of gin and yelled at my roommate's cat for a while because she was trying to eat my deep-dish pizza. What was I talking about? This shrimp stuff was fine. Describing it is hard, like trying to keep a cat away from deep-dish pizza. Like Chris said, it was way too sweet until we added the shrimp, which was pretty well-seasoned. Every week I can feel my standards for edible food sliding down, lower and lower, until eventually I'll just be eating cat food out of a shoe, like a cartoon dog. Allie's rating: 2.5 out of 5 "how dare you describe National Treasure Dolly Parton as 'terrible', sir, I will fight you"s

Chris: We also made ANOTHER spicy Cajun pasta. I'm not sure why Guy thinks that all pastas must be Cajun, but now it is I who is the caged 'un. (OK, Allie wrote that joke and said if I didn't include it she would quit the blog, and I hate the idea of doing this alone even more than I hate that joke). No word as to whether this pasta helped Guy get laid one time, but my gut says no. Also, after eating this pasta my gut just kept saying NOOOO because it was creamy and really spicy. 

I don't have much to say about this. Allie and I ate this while watching the last 45 minutes of The Italian Job on AMC. They were both of similar quality. So if you want pasta that has basically the same value as a mid-tier Marky Mark project, this is it. Chris's rating: 3 out of 5 members of the funky bunch

Allie: I can't believe Chris glossed over the main issue we had with this pasta, which is that the recipe was TERRIBLE. The food itself was fine; I was worried that it wouldn't be spicy enough, so I made it way too spicy, and then everyone was mad at me, just like they were Mark Wahlberg and I was Edward Norton! But trying to follow this recipe was like trying to remember something that happened during the last Winter Olympics (i.e., impossible; please do not tell me things about snowboarding, I do not care). The pasta recipe contained a separate recipe for chipotle sauce that made twice as much sauce as was required for the pasta! Also, all the steps were out of order: Step 1 had approximately twenty-five steps, including "add the cooked pasta to the sauce", but Step 2 was "cook the pasta"!! (Step 3 was "add a garnish", but who do I look like, J.D. Rockefeller?) If this is how Guy lives his life, I feel like he spends a lot of time calling people and asking for help because he tried to put his pants on while wearing shoes. This recipe supports my secret theory that the bandanna-wearing horse editor was going to proof-read this cookbook, but then he dropped it in a hot tub and was too embarrassed to ask for a second copy. That kooky imaginary horse and his wacky adventures! Allie's rating: 3 out of 5 canceled sitcoms about a hot-tubbing horse

Final Summary:

Total dishes made: 24/153

Worst sentence in one of these recipes: It's a tie between "This is the culinary intersection of Crazy Tasty and Gonna Rock Your World!" and "A view from the high dive at the flavortown pool."

Chris: I got through this whole write up without mentioning Kel!

ALLIE I CAN'T THINK OF ANOTHER THING FOR DOWN HERE

Allie: I'm not helping you come up with another joke. Now you are the caged 'un

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meal nine: blackened sesame salmon with cellophane noodle salad, tequila lime tart

Allie: This week, Chris and I decided to embrace the fact that we are slowly turning into sassy fridge magnets, so we drank margaritas while we cooked! We tried to treat ourselves by buying the cheapest tequila and the cheapest tequila mix we could find, which was kind of a mixed bag, results-wise. On the one hand, the tequila smelled like paint thinner and I started to go blind during my second margarita. On the other hand, the drinking made all of our pre-dinner conversation more tolerable, because Chris has recently been obsessed with asking me if I would like to have all the powers of Shazam (the music app, not a cool genie) in exchange for barking like a dog for fifteen seconds every day at noon, and then he keeps getting mad when I say that I don't use Shazam and I don't want to bark like a dog every day for any period of time. In case you thought we were smart and cool people, we also argued for 10 minutes the other day about whether we would want the power to point to anything and say "now you're eating" and have that object turn into a Pizza Hut personal pan pizza. I think that's too much power for one person to have, but what do I know, my parents didn't raise me to want to turn people into pizzas.

Chris: OK, I have a lot of feelings about all the stuff you just said.

1. The name of the genie you're thinking of is Kazaam, played by Oscar winner Shaquille O'Neal.

2. Shazam may also refer to Captain Marvel's catchphrase

3. I think it was also Foxxy Cleopatra's (played by Beyoncé) catchphrase in Austin Powers in Goldmember 

4. What were we talking about?

5. Oh yea. It wasn't barking like a dog for fifteen seconds at 12:00, it was barking like a dog for ten seconds at 12:15. Big difference.  

6. I can't believe you're so blasé about deciding not to accept all the powers of Shazam (the music app) and all you'd have to do is bark like a dog for ten seconds a day, which is something your body needs anyway. I also don't think you've considered that Jamie Foxx (the actor, not Foxxy Cleopatra, the Austin Powers character) has a new show on Fox (the TV network), where you have to beat Shazam and if you had all the powers of Shazam, that would presumably be helpful, and you could win money.

7. If you could turn things into personal pan pizzas just by pointing at them and saying "now you're eating" you could always have a back up meal ready to go when we inevitably have to make terrible Guy Fieri food.

Allie: Hardest pass of all time, buddy. Anyway, we made blackened sesame salmon with cellophane noodle salad this week. I rarely eat seafood, because the ocean is a watery murderous trash pile, and also we just didn't eat it growing up so I'm not super comfortable cooking it. I was even less enthused because this blog has destroyed my standards for edible food. For example, I accidentally ate some aluminum foil in my dinner the other night, and I just thought, well, at least it's a step up from eating garbage, I'm basically a robot now, this is fine. However, this meal was actually really good. The salmon was well-cooked and had a good flavor to it; the noodle salad had carrot, apple, and mango and complemented the salmon really nicely. The vinaigrette was light and flavorful and didn't contain any mayonnaise, and an abject lack of mayonnaise is now a thing I look for in all of my food. Maybe it's just the metal forming my new Wolverine skeleton talking, but I really liked this meal and I would 100% make it again, and I am JUST AS SHOCKED AS YOU ARE that GUY FIERI made me enjoy eating a food that was probably an adorable minor character in Finding NemoAllie's rating: 5 out of 5 tasty things that came out of a watery murderous trash pile

Chris: Yup, this was shockingly good and shockingly non-crazy. I was ready not to like this, because like two years ago I got the flu right after eating a bunch of salmon and then threw up a lot. The salmon didn't cause the illness, but I associate the two, so I have mostly avoided it. Like how after this project, I think I'll have to avoid all mayonnaise. But this was really good.

Usually, Allie reads through the recipe and I make a shopping list. Allie will say we don't need half the ingredients, because she hates buying obscure items, and insists every time that even without the ingredients, the food will turn out "fine." I'm on the side of trying to preserve an ounce of integrity with this blog and you know, trying to follow the recipe. But this time she was right. There were some unique ingredients we needed, including agave nectar (we didn't have it, we just used honey), black sesame seeds (we just skipped these), and wasabi powder (couldn't find it, used a spoonful of horseradish in its stead). Even with these changes, this came out tasty, and it was easy.

One minor-ish existential crisis I've now having with this blog is, "what if all this food is actually good, and we just suck at cooking?" I mean, this meal was good. Maybe we have just gotten better at cooking, and now we will be able to successfully make all of the rest of the dishes in this book and they will all be delicious. I'm not gonna say that's definitely the case, but I'm like 95% sure that's what's gonna happen. Chris's rating: 5 out of 5 existential crises 

Allie: I was flying pretty high after our successful salmon experience, so I was pretty excited to make Guy's tequila lime tart. But I forgot about the cautionary tale of Icarus, who also decided to whip up a mixture of tequila and condensed milk and egg yolks and ended up getting burned alive by the sun, which notoriously hates cheap tequila. I am fully aware that I was biased against this tart from the beginning because I don't love citrus desserts and I'm not a big tequila fan, but I thought this was genuinely revolting. It tasted like limes soaked in gasoline. The crust is made of Nilla wafers mixed with pine nuts, which is insane. I actually think if this had been a lime pudding base with some whipped cream folded into it, it would have been pretty refreshing and airy, like a key lime pie with a subtle hint of tequila to give it some edge. But instead, eating this was like trying to choke down a wet pile of leaves who had had too much to drink the night before. You can tell that I overbaked it in the picture below, but I actually don't think I baked it long enough. I should have kept going until this tart was just a pile of ashes. This tart is the Curious Case of Benjamin Button of food. I hated it. Allie's rating: 1 out of 5 bastardizations of Greek myths

Chris: Allie took this pie thing out of the oven and told me not to eat it because it was hot, but I didn't get this far in life by listening to other people, so I ate it anyway and it burned the inside of my mouth. I couldn't really taste anything and I thought it was pretty good. Then Allie and my wife talked about how crappy it was and I was like "I liked it! Y'all are haters." And to prove my point I had a second slice, and it was not good. I guess the moral of the story is that I should start burning my mouth before I eat any of the food for the rest of this blog.

I really like citrus-based desserts--my favorite pie is lemon meringue. This wasn't as much citrus-based as it was tequila-based (as was I, at this point in the evening). It really had a weird taste that I can't put my finger on. Oh, well I guess that's a lie, the weird taste was the $8 bottle of tequila we poured into it. I tried pointing at it and repeatedly yelling "now you're eating" but it didn't turn into a personal pan pizza. It just stayed as a family size, all-inclusive "resort" in Cancun, tequila tart. Chris's rating: 2 out of 5 cheap cocktail dump truck pies (5 out of 5 if you burn your mouth first). 

Final summary:

Total dishes made: 22/153

Worst sentence in one of these recipes: "One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor."

Good cooking tips: Apparently, just drink $8 tequila and burn all the taste buds off your mouth and all this food tastes good. Just like Ina Garten recommends!

Allie: I would gladly bark like a dog every day at noon for 15 seconds if I never have to eat a tequila-based dessert ever again

Chris: I'm gonna hold you to that. 

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meal eight: baltimore beef bad boy, double-fried french fries

Chris: I’ve been trying to get ahead of these recipes a little bit so I’m not so damn exhausted after cooking every time. Usually, our schedule has been, I come home from work and then Allie comes over a few minutes after. We spend some time picking out the recipe and then go to the store, and we don’t start cooking until after seven. It takes us an hour to an hour and a half to cook, so we’re not eating until 8:30. By that time I’m hungry, tired, and grouchy. Truly, it’s a trifecta of self-inflicted awfulness; it’s like watching all of the Star Wars prequels because you lost your remote and your TV is stuck on Spike.

Chris: This week I picked out the recipes a couple days in advance and went to the store. The first thing we decided to make was this Baltimore beef sandwich thing. I bought the beef and it had to be marinated in the fridge for several hours so I put a reminder in my phone for 6:45am that said “beef.” That way, when I woke up, I already knew it was going to be a crappy day. I stumbled out of bed and still half asleep, tried to find the recipe in the cookbook. I forgot to dog ear the page, so I went to the truly awful index of this book. First I looked under sandwich, but there was no entry. I looked under beef, and there were subheadings. I checked under “Baltimore” but there wasn’t anything there. No, the sandwich was under “Bad Boy”, for this sandwich’s full name is the Baltimore Beef Bad Boy. I mean, isn’t the point of an index that it’s supposed to help you find things in a book? Who would look under Bad Boy even if they remembered that was the dumb name for this dumb sandwich? I'm almost surprised that the whole index wasn't under G, for garbage, and then all the foods were listed under that (see for ex. Garbage, Salad, Waka, Waka).

I’m not familiar with a Baltimore Beef sandwich, but apparently it’s a thing. Guy’s version appears to be essentially a roast beef sandwich on rye with horseradish sauce. Seems pretty innocuous. I don’t so much marinade the beef roast in the fridge as much as I just cover it in every spice I have in my spice cabinet and let it sit there, all cold and spicy in the fridge all day while I go to work. Then, we grill it in the grill pan. Honestly, it seems like I could have just bought lean roast beef from the deli, but I sold my soul to the frosted tip devil, and I must pay the consequences.

Allie: A fun thing about this recipe is that it doesn't have a lot of things that recipes normally have, like details! For example, the recipe calls for a certain cut of beef, but doesn't specify how thick it should be or how much it should weigh. I don't know a lot about beef and I don't know how to use a meat thermometer, so I just kept setting arbitrary time limits on when I thought the beef should be done and then getting mad when the laws of thermodynamics refused to bend to my will. We also had to make a horseradish sauce for this sandwich, which, in true Guy fashion, involved mixing fifteen ingredients into a bowlful of mayonnaise and then letting it sit in the fridge for two hours. When we tasted it, it just tasted like horseradish. Every recipe in this book requires the most work for little to no payoff, like if every training montage in Rocky ended with Rocky falling down and breaking his leg and the movie instantly ending.

Chris: Also, this sandwich basically sucked. Guy recommended slicing the beef with a meat slicer after cooking it (even going as far as suggesting we mortgage our house to do so; this is how housing crises start). But I’m not gonna take financial advice from Guy Fieri, so we just cut it with a knife. The resulting meat was pretty tough, pretty bland, and not at all worth the effort. This may be my least favorite thing we have made yet. Just the combination of lots of effort, for a totally unimaginative dish, and so little payoff. It’s another awfulness trifecta; it’s like watching all of the Big Momma’s House movies because you lost your remote and your TV is stuck on FX. Chris’s Rating: 2 out of 5 calendar reminders that just say “beef.”

Allie: I ended up slicing this pretty haphazardly and just grilling the slices until they were no longer raw, so the toughness of the meat is 100% my fault. Chris didn't care because he wasn't paying attention. He was angrily making fries and just kind of staring into the big pot of bubbling oil like he was the old lady at the end of Titanic. This blog is turning us into an old married couple but not like, a happy one with lots of fond memories, more like a bitter couple that's just staying together for the sake of their child, who is a Guy Fieri blog, even though everyone knows they'd be better off apart. Anyway, this sandwich was boring and it mostly tasted like horseradish and poorly cooked meat. Even though it had every spice in the world on it, it was less flavorful than pretty much anything I've ever eaten, and I ate an unseasoned bowl of brown rice for lunch last week. Also, two nights later I was watching tiny baby children grill steaks to perfection on Masterchef Jr and I was furious! How did they cook the meat so well on their first try? Can they teach a 28-year-old lady how to do that? Call me, children!! Allie's Rating: 2 out of 5 sincere, desperate pleas to children under six

Chris: We also made fries. We were supposed to make baked potatoes, because I wanted to pick a really easy side, and I even bought the potatoes with several days to spare. But despite my best laid plans to be prepared, I didn’t realize that Guy’s baked potatoes had to be brined for several hours in the fridge. Because nothing can be easy and normal and my day to day life is being controlled by the love child of Sammy Hagar and the lead singer of Smashmouth.

Anyway, Guy has a fry recipe and it was extremely similar to the only other fry recipe I have ever made. I think these came out really good. Fries are my wife’s favorite food, as she tells me all the time. While I was making these, she told me that her least favorite food is cold fries, which is pretty amazing. I think that shows the fragility of life or something—a thing you love so much can so easily slip into something you hate. Like how I used to love cooking. Chris’s Rating: 5 out of 5 tenuous metaphors.

Allie: Chris and I were enjoying a nice meal of pre-dinner nachos when I flipped through the cookbook and said, "it's weird that you have to brine these baked potatoes for eight hours before cooking them" and Chris gave me a look that I instantly knew meant he had not read the recipe and had no idea that this was supposed to happen, and it was the closest my life has ever come to featuring a record scratch sound effect. Anyway, we made these fries. They were good, because there was no mayonnaise involved and they were otherwise pretty straightforward. I mean, they're fries. I have to give Guy credit where credit's due. He is good at frying potatoes in oil and then adding salt to them and he didn't even call them "Starch Rockets" or "Tater Blasters" or something crazy. Allie's Rating: 4.5 out of 5 STARCH ROCKETS

Final Summary

Total dishes made: 20/153

Worst sentence in one of these recipes: “Fries—when they’re good they’re really good, and when they’re bad…well, yep, you’ll still eat ‘em. But when they’re off da hook—well, they’re probably double fried.”

Another terrible film trilogy I bet you forgot about: Look Who's Talking!

Chris: I think this proves definitively that you can’t plan your way into a successful Guy Fieri meal. The food just exists in a permanent state of awfulness with no beginning, middle or end.

Allie: So is your TV broken or what

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