Junk Food Porn

Chef Boyardee CansI had popped into my corner store around noon to pick up some hot sauce in order to add a little zing to my falafel wrap, but as I stood in the back aisle trying to decide between the Sriracha and Tabasco and Cholula, the desire for an altogether different kind of heat began to overtake me.

It would seem I was being cruised by an older gentleman. He was staring directly at my crotch. Granted, he had no choice in the matter because he was sitting on the middle shelf, plastered on the face of a can, directly beneath the spicy condiments.

He was a tiny, sturdy-looking mustachioed fellow with white hair that peeked out from under his toque. The stylish red kerchief he wore around his thick neck intensified the warm, pink flush of his cheeks. My own turned crimson at his gaze, which remained fixed upon my loins. I knelt down in front of him. His devilish smile told me he was looking for a bit of fun. The subtly stiff cock of his eyebrow said, “Well, how about it?” I like that in a man.

I found his offer strangely irresistible. He was offering me something I never before knew I wanted, but now did so more than anything. Even more than a falafel wrap.

I had a half hour to kill, I was game for a little lunchtime action, and I’ve always had a fetish for little Mediterranean men who know how to cook, so I took him up on his offer.  But I knew if wanted to taste his Big Beefaroni, I was going to have to pay for it. $1.79 was the price he quoted me off the top of his head. I felt a certain shame wondering what my Sicilian grandmother would think of the sin I was about to commit, and that made the prospect all the more titillating.

I loitered in the back of the store, quietly fondling the can until the coast was clear, then walked up to the checkout casually and put my money on counter.

“It’s for research,” I told the man behind the counter, though I don’t think he believed me. “You want me to put that in a plain brown bag for you?” he asked, unconvinced.

“Nope. I’m good,” I answered, trying to pretend away my embarrassment. I shoved the can deep into the right pocket of my cargo shorts and left the store. It rubbed hard against my thigh as I walked. And old Russian woman eyed the suspicious my bulge with a look that hovered somewhere between amazement and disapproval as I waited at the cross walk, but I didn’t care. I had only one thing on my mind and was nearly exploding with the desire to get home and whip it out.

Safely inside my apartment, I pulled the can out of my shorts and placed it on the kitchen counter. I poured myself a drink to relax myself. A finger of whiskey always helps with social lubrication.

“So…” I said, attempting a little flirty small talk,” Boyardee. That’s an Italian name, isn’t it?” But he didn’t answer. The man was all business, I thought– as cold and hard as the granite on which he was perched. I knew I needed to get him hot. And fast, or this nooner was going nowhere. I knocked back my drink and made my move.

I picked him up off the counter with a firm grasp in one hand as I seductively traced the outline of his head with the other “Got your nose!” I said to him, playfully. Gently, I pulled off his top. He barely resisted, making little wet-sounding noises as I peeled it away from his body. I stuck my index finger in his can. It felt cool and moist. Slowly, I pulled it out and placed the dripping digit to my lips. It was salty. It tasted of him. It also tasted of tomatoes and tin.

Once he was opened up, I poured him into a sauce pan and lowered him onto the stove. I ignited the flame under the pan, but it was he who had ignited the one in my nether regions.

“Are you hot yet? ‘Cause I am. Very, very hot,” I moaned with a long, breathy “h” as though I were un-fogging a mirror, but in a sexy way. And I was hot. I was standing too close to the stove. I pulled off my hoodie and threw it to the ground. I plunged three fingers into the pan to savor his warming essence and placed them under my nose. The scent of potassium chloride and enzyme-modified cheese product made me shudder with expectation. I placed those beef-flecked fingers in my mouth and sucked them dry. He was primed and ready.

“I could just eat you with a spoon,” I whispered to him. And then I made I growling noise, which emanated from deep inside of me. I was hungry. Hungry for him.

I tried to inhale him, but he was too much Beefaroni for me to handle. I stuffed as much of him as I could into my cheeks like a grey squirrel in heat. It was then that I caught a good look at myself in the reflection from the glass of the framed, vintage Coffee Arabica poster that hangs over my stove– all puffy faced with a chin covered in goo, like a drooling Brando in his later years. Suddenly, I felt like a whore, which was odd, since I was the one paying for this guy’s services. I discovered at that moment– standing there with a mouthful of limp noodle and hot, tomato-y effluence– that one can indeed put a price on shame. And my particular price was $1.79. I spit what I could into the sink.

I felt he’d somehow tricked me into taking him home. I was hungry and feeling lonely at lunchtime. He promised to fill my needs and my stomach. He also promised me 7 vitamins & minerals and 7 grams of protein per serving. But I was left holding the can, one very unsatisfied customer indeed.

“What are you looking at?” I asked him as I wiped my chin with a clean towel. His stare, which seemed so sexy to me not 15 minutes earlier, now appeared to have an air of mockery and smug self-satisfaction about it.

“I paid for you, didn’t I?” I cried, “You got want you wanted from me, didn’t you? So why don’t you just… just go!”

But he wouldn’t move an inch. He just kept on looking at me with those squinty eyes. He didn’t even have the decency to turn his back as I dried my tears. Or to leave.

So I threw him out– out the back door and down the garbage chute. As a San Franciscan, it was hard for me not to place him in the recycling bin, which is where he probably belonged, but I couldn’t bear the thought of him ever coming back. Even in another form.

I held my chin up and took a few deep breaths before I walked back into the kitchen. I knew I’d have to face the falafel wrap I’d left on the counter, which was forced to witness my afternoon of shame. I prayed it didn’t judge me too harshly for forgetting to buy the hot sauce.

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About Michael Procopio

I write about food and am very fond of Edward Gorey. And gin.
This entry was posted in Rants and Stories and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Junk Food Porn

  1. carole says:

    Hector Boiardi, a proud son of Cleveland OH! Somehow I doubt the current tomato sauce mirrored his from his restaurant The Spaghetti House but I lived off the stuff for a year in FL when I was 20. He was good with dried onion and garlic added. Oh, yes he was…

    • Carole,

      I just learned that Mr. Boiardi was the head chef at The Plaza Hotel and catered Woodrow Wilson’s 2nd wedding.

      And how fitting that he died in Parma, Ohio, right?

  2. Adri says:

    Wonderful! My mother never purchased the gentleman’s products, preferring instead homemade fare, but I always wanted a piece of that guy myself. It wasn’t until my junior year at UCLA when I finally had the nerve, and besides my mom was not at home. She was at the racetrack. Knowing it would quite some time until she returned, I went for it. I grabbed a can at the market and went home. Of course back then one had to get a pan and a flame to do the deed. After a wait during which I could smell the beefy meal, I poured it onto a plate, took a big forkful, and in short order, so to speak, realized Mother knew best. My Beefaroni met the same fate as yours, but luckily I did not have the added shame of failing to recycle. There was however shame aplenty to be endured when my mom returned home, flush from a very good day at the races and saw the can in the trash. Not a word did she speak. That was the worst part of all. Thanks for another wonderful article.

    • We never ever had that stuff in our house. Tons of other convenience foods, but never canned pasta. Or canned sauce, for that matter.

      Oddly, it wasn’t until MY third year at UCLA that I started learning how to cook properly. And by properly, I mean learn to make more than simple pasta in red sauce.

      I was well into adulthood before I ever tried a Chef Boyardee product. I cannot remember the occasion, but it must have been very late at night and I must have been either very drunk or stoned to have thought it was a good idea in the first place.

  3. Exceptionally delicious! I’m vegan now, but I look back fondly on my days when I ate the reconstituted cow profered by Chef B straight out of the can with a tablespoon, so as to scoop the last drop of tomato-y goodness from its bottom. * sigh *

    • There’s something strangely dirty about the endeavor. And you think you’re going to get some sort of naughty satisfaction from it, but you don’t. At least, that was my experience, which is probably why I wrote this in blue hues in the first place.

  4. I love it! What a great post.

  5. Sadie says:

    I love, love, love reading your blog. It reminds me to be strong when shopping and avoid processed foods. I’m usually disappointed because the product just doesn’t measure up to my imagination. I just can’t say that anywhere as creatively as you can!

    • Sadie,

      I thank, thank, thank you for reading my blog. I am grateful for lovely people like you who read and interact with me.

      And, as for creativity. I’ll bet you anything you could write something about it. You said something important– a certain disappointment when something doesn’t measure up to your imagination. Write about what’s in your imagination. If you do that, you’ll be writing something no one else could ever have written, because it all came from inside your own brain.

      And that’s what makes the process so much fun and fascinating, right?

  6. Annie says:

    Hilarious. That was one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. You’ve outdone yourself, and that’s saying something.

    • Annie,

      Thank you. I think I would much rather outdo myself than undo myself. However, it always leaves me with a feeling of “what on earth am I going to write about now?”

  7. kitten says:

    Sometimes a little slumming is good for the soul.

  8. I don’t know whether I should be turned on or grossed out. I think it’s a little bit of both, to be honest.

  9. Gloria says:

    Love this! Thanks for a great post.

  10. GeezLouise! says:

    fantastic writing my friend, every last word … perfect

  11. Jennifer says:

    “As a San Franciscan, it was hard for me not to place him in the recycling bin, which is where he probably belonged, but I couldn’t bear the thought of him ever coming back. Even in another form.” Best line ever….

    As a kid we were Kosher but when we slept over at Mrs. Hillins house we ate whatever we wanted. I always wanted the man in the can…I once vomited from the ravioli but to this day still crave it…it’s kind of vomit-y either way!!

    • Jennifer,

      In that case, you are telling me that Chef Boyardee made you stronger, if Nietzsche is to be believed.

      Personally, I have the feeling I wanted to eat it because it was forbidden in my family. Not expressly forbidden mind you, because the consumption of such things would have been unthinkable in my family. It was a kind of unconsidered taboo, which intensified my hunger for it.

  12. Megan Gordon says:

    You’re amazing! LOVED This.

  13. To me it’s that distinct smell (which Jennifer described aptly as kind of vomit-y). Enticing yet repulsive…like everything that is bad for you. Back to the clean living (and oh my thanks for a great laugh this hot Sunday morning).

    • Maureen,

      Enticing and repulsive at the same time <– so absolutely true. There is something oddly alluring about that which is abhorrent. It’s like wanting to have sex with a leper. Or that Swedish man who recently died while “making love” to a hornet’s nest. Only eating Chef Boyardee products is much, much safer. I think.

  14. Lesley says:

    I love that you took a mundane moment of your day and turned it into a really well-written (and slightly salacious) story. Thanks for inspiring me. Also — definitely Cholula on the hot sauce.

    • Lesley,

      How nice to hear from you! Im delighted I could inspire you. Now please tell me what exactly I inspired you to do. I hope it’s legal.

      P.S. Only “slightly” salacious? I must be losing my touch.

  15. You are the food writer I want to be. This is hilarious.

  16. Sharon says:

    Is this, perhaps, the first of installment a trilogy that will be the guilty pleasure of suburban housewives all over America longing for canned food to fill their mouths with tubular emissions almost against their will? I’m biting my lip in anticipation.

    • Sharon,

      With all due respect, I cannot bring myself to write oral rape fantasies for suburban housewives. It’s simply not my place to do so. However, I truly enjoyed the term “tubular emissions”. So thank you very much for that.

  17. If I were a middle aged Italian man, I’d cruise you.

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