1.) Kraft Parmesan cheese
Why you have it: You’re a lazy, stupid asshole.
Why you shouldn’t have it: Somewhere in Illinois, Kraft has a factory where it “manufactures” the stuff that it sells in those green cans. Unbeknownst to most, the “factory” is actually what is internally known as a “dandruff farm.” Kraft lures homeless people into the facility, and allows them to sleep in a large room that contains hundreds of cots. Each morning, after they wake up and move on with their days, Kraft has a giant machine that gently shakes each cot and it collects all of the dandruff, ships it to a processing plant, where it is ground into a consistent texture and placed in green cans labelled with “100% Real Parmesan Cheese.” They can legally do this because of a little-known piece of legislature that slipped under the radar at Congress, which reclassified dandruff as a type of cheese.
What you should be using instead: How about actual Parmesan cheese, dipshit? You can get it at any grocery store, and while it’s a little pricier than the stuff in the green can, you can at least take solace in the fact that you’re not feeding your family dried skin flakes from human scalps. Seriously, how lazy are you? Just look for a wedge of cheese that has a dark brown rind and is labelled “Parmesan Reggiano.” Keep it in your fridge (yeah, it might mold a little bit, but that’s what cheese does. Just scrape off the mold, nancyboy) and pull it out when you need it. Get a little microplane grater and grate it when you actually need to use it (once removed from the wedge, grated cheese loses flavor rapidly). It tastes infinitely better, it’s not particularly inconvenient and WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU EAT PRE-GRATED CHEESE FROM A CAN ANYWAY DO YOU ACTUALLY NEED ME TO SPELL THIS OUT FOR YOU JESUS CHRIST I HATE YOU.
2.) Table salt in a pre-packaged shaker
Why you have it: You’re somebody who thinks “Hey, salt is salt, so it doesn’t matter what kind I get.” You also think The Matrix Revolutions is the best movie ever made.
Why you shouldn’t have it: Oh, holy fuckballs, where do I even begin with this? First of all, all salt is not created equal. At all. At. Fucking. All. There are many varieties of salt, they are mined or evaporated from places all over the world and they vary wildly in quality and flavor. Some of the most exquisite flavors at the world’s finest restaurants are largely attributable to the salt used by the chefs. That stuff you’ve got in your little shaker that you think is as good as any other kind of salt? Yeah, that’s like comparing an 18-year-old single malt Scotch to a melted popsicle. It’s one thing to use that stuff at the table (which you still shouldn’t do) but if you’re using it for cooking, you should be banished from the kitchen forever and forced to live on saltines and ketchup for the rest of your life.
What you should be using instead: Damn near anything. Hell, transmission fluid would be a step up. At minimum, you should start using Morton’s Kosher salt. It’s nowhere near the best out there, but it’s inexpensive and will be a dramatic improvement. The grains are coarser, which makes them easier to handle, and they’re porous, so in dishes where the salt isn’t intended to dissolve completely, they’ll draw moisture out of the food to mingle with the grains, resulting in a more balanced flavor. If you’ve got the coin, look into some sea salts and finishing salts. The difference they can make in your food is extraordinary and even though some of them get a little pricey (unlike your mom), they’re used sparingly enough to last a long time.
3.) Pre-ground black pepper
Why you have it: You have no understanding of how spices work and in your spare time, you run over puppies with a lawnmower.
Why you shouldn’t have it: For the same reason you shouldn’t buy pre-chewed gum. For the same reason you shouldn’t buy light beer. For the same reason you shouldn’t listen to Public Enemy with Chuck D as the only rapper. It’s got no flava. Peppercorns, like all spices, rapidly lose their flavor once they’re ground. Like, within months. And since pepper is a nearly ubiquitous spice in cooking, it’s one that you want to keep as flavorful as possible. Because you suck, you probably use the pepper in its own shaker that came with the table salt you bought. Ugh. I can’t even stand to be addressing you directly.
What you should use instead: Whole peppercorns that you only grind when you need them. This should be obvious, but you’re a moron, so I’ll spell it out for you. A nice pepper mill is a worthwhile investment for your kitchen, but these days, you can even buy little plastic ones at the grocery store. Those aren’t ideal, but at least you’re still grinding directly from the peppercorn and preserving the flavor of the spice. Oh, and they also make salt mills, and you might be tempted to buy one of those because, again, you’re an idiot, but don’t be fooled. The flavor of salt does not deteriorate when it’s ground, so those little doohickies are a waste of money.
Why you have it: I have literally no idea. None. I cannot fathom what would possess a human being to use this stuff. Mental illness? Masochism? It’s a mystery.
Why you shouldn’t have it: This is hard to explain. It’s sort of like talking to a mother who gives her infant child live hand grenades as crib toys. If you have to explain why it’s a bad thing, what’s the likelihood she’s going to understand? Just think of it this way: you have two substances - one is made from naturally occurring ingredients, and the other is wholly artificial, much worse for your health, and is designed to taste like the other stuff, but isn’t nearly as good. If you have at least three functioning brain cells, you’ll choose the former. If you’re the sort of person who yells at the TV during The People’s Court, you have margarine in your refrigerator and I can only hope that Zuhl shows up the next time you open the door and eats you because you are not worth displacing oxygen on this planet.
What you should be using instead: BUTTER. Goddamn, how do you have the intelligence to use your computer and not already know this? I mean, just look at the ingredients on a pack of butter. See anything you can’t pronounce? (Well, what am I thinking? You use margarine, so you probably can’t pronounce “milk.”) Now look at the ingredients on a pack of margarine. Do you have any idea what most of that stuff is? Of course not. Then why eat it? It tastes worse and is likely to have trans fats (which do not occur in natural butter). Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you look at the ingredients on a label and you don’t know what any of them are, don’t fucking eat it. Go buy some butter, you dick.