The Incredibly Bland Childhood Meal That’s Gotten Me Through Quarantine
My former roommate and I had a running joke that we both suffer from a mysterious ailment best described as “bland palette syndrome.” While some people’s tongues are trained to distinguish the infinite nuances of perfectly-aged wine or single-origin coffee beans, ours can’t seem to differentiate between a 10-course Michelin-star dinner and the rice and beans we had for lunch yesterday. That’s not to say we can’t appreciate the subtle melange of a well-spiced dish or that we’ve never ventured outside of our culinary comfort zones. It’s just that when it comes down to our own daily meal prep, both of us tend towards the same super simple staples day in and day out. And not only do we eat the same short list of foods, to make things even more perverse, we also never seem to get tired of them. Although, the pandemic and the sudden responsibility to endlessly produce three square meals a day has definitely put that declaration to the test.
But recently, it dawned on me that this is not some new adult proclivity for nutritional dullness spawned by a fundamental inability to cook for myself. But rather, this remarkably high tolerance for gustatorial monotony is a trait I’ve cultivated my entire life. Throughout elementary school, I began each day with a bowl of plain cheerios doused in watery skim milk before graduating into a rather dark period in which those chunky Carnation Instant Breakfasts reigned supreme. (What I was doing in middle school that rendered me so busy I couldn’t sit down for an actual meal still remains to be seen.) Lunch, meanwhile, rarely consisted of anything more inventive than a classic PB&J, crusts removed, naturally. And even before I entered into these highly regimented mealtimes, before I had even developed the teeth to chew them, there was one meal this lifelong picky eater would chow down on with gusto — bubba drool.
No one in my family is quite clear on the origins of this name I bequeathed upon my preferred meal of choice, most likely an enigmatic combination of easily pronounceable syllables and pre-lingual childish gibberish. But all of the credit for the invention of drool belongs to my babysitter Mrs. Lopez, the mastermind behind this uncomplicated combination of culinary delights. Bubba drool consists of three simple ingredients: instant oatmeal, peanut butter, and a perfectly ripe banana. While your initial reaction to this revelation will probably be little more than a passing “meh,” I dare you to mix up a batch, plop a spoonful in your mouth, and not be instantly transported to a place of immediate comfort. The flavor is something akin to being wrapped in a snuggie while getting a scalp massage in front of a roaring fire in the dead of winter. In fact, this dish is so good, it just might persuade you being bland’s not so bad after all.
- Two packages Quaker Instant Oatmeal, or a healthy pour from one of those cardboard tubes
- As much peanut butter as you can reasonably get away with
- One banana
- Pour as much oatmeal as your little heart desires into a bowl.
- Add enough boiling water so that the oats are completely covered and just a little bit soupy.
- Stir vigorously.
- Take a heaping helping of your favorite peanut butter and mix into the oatmeal until thoroughly blended.
- Cut your banana into bite-size rounds and plop on top.
- Voila! Boogie on down to bubba drool town.