Angry Food

An Enthusiastically Researched Essay by Oliver Cromwell


I love angry food. The kind of food with names you could shout out at your enemies before charging into battle. My life is unfortunately bereft of a lot of angry food. The cheap stuff at the store usually doesn’t cut it. Now think of yourself on the humid plains of Asia, approaching the enemy line with sweat pouring down the back of your halter and spear clutched in hand. As you meet the enemy and pounce with that spear, a bloodcurdling cry leaps from your lungs.

“Tzatziki!” you yell, as your spear thrusts into the yielding flesh of your opponent. That’s an angry food. It wouldn’t work if you screamed something like “salad.” Unfortunately life is replete with food names inappropriate for blood lust: potato, hamburger, flan, lemon chicken, shallots. Not a one inspires much of anything. I guess you could bellow out “squash,” which is something you could do with a shock weapon, but it’s still not too threatening.

Something that comes close and never quite makes it is “fritters.” Fritters is more of a calm and collected food. It’s the kind of thing you’d whisper to a prisoner before torturing him. Grabbing a rusty pair of pliers, you’d lean next to his ear and quietly say “fritters.” It would send shivers down their spine.

But, again, could you imagine spurring your howitzer crew on to the sound of “cous cous?” It, like so many other foods, just doesn’t fill you with the life that names reminiscent of violent, bloody death can.

The fact that “souvlaki” is an absolutely stellar angry food shouldn’t make you think that foods ending in “i” are good angry foods. One look at a list of Italian pastas should disabuse you of that notion fairly quickly. No enemy has yet run at the sound of “rotini.”

You want to mix your foods up, though. There are also the grunts and swears spoken while engaging in war. This is where “stroganoff” is perfect. Try saying it in loud, but low, tones when your column is grappling with the enemy.

One of the best angry foods, bellying its existence as a dumpling in soup, is xiao long bao. You can just imagine leading a troop of men, coming over a hill only to discover the enemy tens of yards downhill, and shouting the charge “Xiao long bao!” as you and your men fly down the hill towards certain death.

Next time, when you sit down for chicken strips, pizza poppers, “tater skins,” or some other milquetoast food, think of how much better it would be if your food’s name got you really pissed off. So pissed off you could kill a man. This is the reason that most of my meals consist of bok choy.