Our theme for the month of July is “stunt journalism.” Writers were asked to try something new, take on a challenge, or perform some other interesting feat strictly for the purpose of writing about it.
For thirty days I dated Blue Apron and it was amazing and then it stopped abruptly and we are no longer talking.
Here’s how it works: Blue Apron sends a box of ingredients and recipes once a week for three meals. For meals that feed two people, or one me, it costs $59 per delivery.
It started like any romance—I gave her a coupon for thirty percent off, then my credit card number and address, known allergies, social security number, and blood type. It was so exciting. I remember when the first box arrived: you could have fit a mid-sized sedan in it. So many fresh vegetables! So many knick-knacks! I didn’t have to go to the grocery store! I didn’t have to think about what to cook.
I was done with the grocery store—tired of buying the same stuff every week; onions, peppers, chicken, blah blah blah, cooking stir fries, pasta dishes, then watching the rest of the food spoil because I didn’t know what to make with it.
Blue Apron was making all the decisions for me. She knew I was a good chef: I know about mincing and dicing, and flash-frying and sauteeing, and and I know who Al Dente is. I just needed structure; she gave that to me. She also gave me leftovers and portion control. “This is what food for two people looks like,” was her message. So you cook it, divide it in half immediately, and put the other half in the fridge for tomorrow. And you eat the first meal that night, and then you go into the fridge and eat the second meal and have no leftovers and burp forever. But it was a nice thought—she really wanted what was best for me.
I couldn’t stop talking about her! She’s so cultured, sophisticated, and fun. It’s like a cooking show but at your house, I told people. Everything was measured already! Fun meals (fresh squid ink pasta with shrimp!), new ingredients (pink lemons!), portion control (sort of!), and I ate everything. While there was certainly more plastic and cardboard packaging, I was consuming every food item instead of throwing out brown bananas, wrinkled zucchini, and liquefied spinach leaves.
My love for Blue Apron peaked with the pan-seared fresh gnocchi with a fontina cheese sauce and roasted broccoli drizzled with lemon juice. My friend Gabe came over, and I made the dish, and not to brag, but it was life-changing. It was the kind of meal that actually made you sad because you knew it had to end.
And so it went for a few weeks, but slowly, there were signs the spark was dying. Things appeared in the box that made me question if she even wanted the relationship to work. Salmon that said, “responsibly sourced from our sustainable farms” looked so pink it should have been a Crayola color. Then she did something so, so bad. “Vietnamese Vegetable Sandwich” showed up. It’s a sandwich that takes twenty-five to thirty-five minutes to prepare, which is, in fact, NOT A SANDWICH! It’s a part-time job. If you’re spending more than five minutes making a sandwich, it’s just a dumb hand-meal. Mushrooms, carrots, cucumbers, and sriracha mayo between bread. That’s a salad hiding between two giant croutons.
Speaking of salads, she sent me Salad Pizza. …and just WHAT THE HELL IS SALAD PIZZA?!
I thought she loved me.
Then I had a bad week. I had work events three nights in a row, and couldn’t get to the kitchen. Another box arrived with the first one still in the fridge, so I had all this food and I was overwhelmed. Yes, I could have told her I was going to be out, but I wanted her to just know. That’s how it was in the beginning: she knew. This thing that was once so fun and new had turned into work.
“Can’t go out tonight, gotta stay home and cook this food before the next deadline.”
The doubts continued: there really is a lot of packaging. The meals aren’t that innovative. Am I saving any money? Did we really land on the moon? I needed a break. But as we all know, a break is a breakup.
If there’s one thing I know, it’s how to break up with people. You google “How do I break up with people.” Canceling Blue Apron is a difficult process on purpose, because they never. want. to let you go. You click a link, you type your email, you get a text, you confirm your email, you click another link, and they say “Why? Tell me why. Just tell me why. One reason.” You can almost see the entire company folding their arms at a coffee shop, making a scene, stubbornly shaking their heads at you. “I DON’T CARE who hears me. I know you love me. I know it. I know. I know. I know.”
All these options and you had to click one, because they wouldn’t let you cancel without telling them why. I couldn’t find the “It’s not you it’s me” button.
BlueApron: Was there too much packaging?
Me: Yes. [Click] BlueApron: Ooohh well! Wait! Click on this link to see about our cool recycling options! I still love you!
Me: Forget it. [Unclick].
BlueApron: Were there issues with the ingredients?Me: You sent me a vegetable sandwich. [Click]
BlueApron: Ohh! Look! Look—don’t make any rash decisions we can get through this—click on this link to learn about changing the meal preferences. You don’t have to do this!
Me: Stop. [Unclick]
BlueApron: Did you move?
Me: Yes. I moved. [Click] I moved far away.
BlueApron: OHHHH that’s fine! that’sfinethat’sfine, I’m coming with you! Just tell me where you are—your exact location—and I’ll show up on your doorstep on Sunday! Come on. It’ll be so much better than before. We’ll get out of this city, move to the country, get farm, live the quiet life. You and I can sleep under the stars and, and, and—
Me: Unsubscribe! UNSUBSCRIBE!
Bart Tocci (’11) lives in Boston where he writes essays, performs at open mics, and threatens to start taco restaurants. He’s been told that he looks like the kind of guy who stands up for what’s right. And who goes to the store before the party. Read more here: barttocci.wordpress.com