Comedian Catherine Cohen Knows the Power of Taco Bell Fire Sauce

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Catherine Cohen with her pigs in a blanket. Illustration: Margalit Cutler

“I just kinda see what happens, and it’s been fun and a really nice way to remember what day it is,” says the comedian Catherine Cohen of her weekly stand-up show, Cabernet Cabaret. Since the lockdown began, she’s moved it from Club Cumming to her living room, performing on Instagram live while drinking things like dirty martinis and Ina Garten’s cosmo. But even more than the show, she says, cooking helps her differentiate Tuesday afternoon from Thursday morning: “Truly,” Cohen says, “food is the thing that is anchoring me to reality.” 

Thursday, April 23
How on God’s green Earth is it already the end of April? No one knows! I’m currently quarantined with my hot/cute, infinitely patient boyfriend Brian at his family’s cabin in the Berkshires. I know, I’m a spoiled little princess, yet I still find time to complain — How does she do it?! Whenever I think about the word diary, I immediately hear Britney Spears singing the phrase “Dear Diary,” as she does on her sleeper hit of the same name (track 12 on Oops! … I Did It Again), so as you read my diary, please imagine me whisper-crooning the whole thing into the cracked spine of a bubblegum-pink Moleskine.

Dear Diary,

Two years ago, I met this guy at a show for 12 minutes and he explained the concept of “intermittent fasting” to me over the dull roar of an East Village dive bar and ever since then I have half-tried to do it, which usually means I don’t start eating until 2 or 3 p.m. and then I stop whenever I want. That’s not how intermittent fasting works, but that is the freaky-Friday-fucked-up way I do it because I have no self-control and a quirky, flirty way about me. 😉

Every morning, I like to have what I call “Brian’s coffee.” This just means that I try and convince my boyfriend, Brian, to make me coffee, even though he does not drink coffee. “I want Brian’s coffee. It’s better than what I can make,” I coo in velvet tones from the bedroom. Brian’s coffee tastes the same as when I make coffee (which critics and fans alike call Catherine’s Coffee), but I am lazy and only learned how to use a coffee machine a few weeks ago. Come through, woman in tech!

My other obsession is hydration. I need to have at least three liters of water a day to keep my vocal cords buzzing beautifully, but I don’t trust myself to keep track of how many glasses I have, so I only drink water from my One Liter, Overpriced Hydro Flask. I always keep it by my side and don’t wash it enough. Stars — they’re just like us!

So I had my morning combo of Brian’s coffee and a liter of water. Then, around 2 p.m., because we were out of eggs, I made oatmeal and mixed in peanut butter, maple syrup, and raisins. Normally, I would have eggs like a fitness girl on a sad diet. Oatmeal is sad in a different way, but I was randomly into it today. Whenever I have oatmeal, I feel like I’m a pioneer woman making slop for everyone on the wagon. All aboard!

I was still hungry minutes after the oatmeal (brave), so I had some Siete Chips (nacho-cheese flavor) dipped in garlic hummus. It was a bad combo that I immediately regretted. I turned to Brian and was like can you believe these chips are grain free, gluten free, and paleo friendly, and he was like,
“… Yeah, I can.”

We had made brownies the night before, so then I cut myself a brownie edge. Later in the day, Brian was like, “Did you eat all the edges?” and I was like, “Hmm, maybe a ghost did that to it.” I’ve never seen a ghost, but I am scared of them. Isn’t it more fun to believe something exists? Okay, I just got my Ph.D. in being existential as fuck.

Around 8 p.m., I became furious and then realized I was hungry. I frantically put some black beans in a tortilla and had a sad, wet taco. I learned during quarantine that they actually sell Taco Bell–brand Fire Sauce at the grocery store. I put so much TBFS on my taco that I kind of keep it in my hand the whole time I eat a taco. Brian and I joke that TBFS is my “drink” to go with my “meal.” We have fun! We both had another sad black-bean taco and shared a Heineken. Then we made sweet, sensual love. JK. I don’t know why having sex at night is “the thing.” I like having sex around 3 p.m., but I’ll save that for my OTHER diary, wink-wink. I am rock-and-rolling my way through this food diary, and you’re lapping it up, you sick freak!

Friday, April 24
I started my day with Brian’s coffee and a liter of water. I was doing a voice-over gig all afternoon, so I had to eat before my usual window, which was upsetting. My life is so hard!

I had chopped up sweet potato and chickpeas in a tortilla with some yogurt on it, topped with my daily dose of Taco Bell Fire Sauce, and I will now be referring to it as “mother’s medicine.” I also feel it’s important to include that every day at 10:30 a.m., I take my birth-control pill, which I call “the queen’s candy.” Dessert vibes!

After my voice-over session, I was feeling some kind of way (COSMICALLY DEPRESSED) and I suggested we make the Pillsbury cinnamon rolls I had bought two weeks ago “in case of emergency.” We inhaled all five cinnamon rolls in about six minutes while standing over the hot tray in the kitchen, panting like beasts that had just ripped an alive mammal to bloody shreds after being released from captivity. Cuteness! We both agree the icing-to-roll ratio is off. There should be more icing. I love icing because it tastes good! Opinions here are my own.

That night I went the fuck OFF and made vodka sauce from ScRaTCh to have with rigatoni and baked chicken breast. Me and Bri both have a disease where we never know when chicken is done and are terrified of not cooking it enough. It’s like I become colorblind and suddenly the whole thing looks pink. Brian suggests we call his friend Josh — he’s a chef that’s about to open a new restaurant called Orso in L.A. (sexy lil quarantine tip: He’s doing fresh pasta and homemade sauce delivery weekly). Josh tells us the best way to tell if chicken is cooked is to feel it with your hands … Now you’ve heard everything. Through touching, it is revealed that we have overcooked it. Anxiety prevails! The meal is still a hit. I also had two massive IPAs from Berkshire Brewing Company. Just a light Friday-night supper! Obviously, that night in bed, I was rolling around in pain from overeating … kind of like “The Princess and the Pea,” but the pea is inside of me and the pea is a half-pound of pasta and 32 oz. of extremely hoppy beer. Tale as old as time!

Saturday, April 25
I felt bad asking Bri to make my coffee again, so I made it myself. Feminist win! I was literally so full from dinner the night before that I didn’t eat ever again. JK, but I did skip breakfast/lunch.

We went on a three-hour hike (two-hour hike, but we got lost; you’re obsessed!). On the drive home, Bri looked at me with a glimmer in his eye and I knew what was up … since our groceries were almost gone, we were going to treat ourselves to takeout for the first time in six weeks!

That’s wild for me because in NYC I never cook and only eat via Seamless.com or Caviar if I’m feeling like a billionaire. In New York, I literally have a college-dorm-room mini-fridge situation, so I never cook. I don’t even have a freezer, so I have to buy a bag of ice if I want to make drinks.

I do really enjoy cooking, so it’s been great to actually get to do it — we made the Marcella Hazan Bolognese, and it was really fun to spend all day doing something. I never would’ve done that normally. 

Bri and I felt like we EARNED, it so we had the most decadent meal from the incredible Baba Louie’s pizza in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. We ordered the Dawn’s Delight salad (gorgonzola, pears, dried cranberries, figs, and toasted walnuts with mixed greens and a balsamic vinaigrette) and a BBQ-chicken pizza (BBQ sauce, chicken, red onions, mozzarella, smoked Gouda, oregano, and Parmesan). There was a bit of drama because I reallllly don’t like blue cheese (I know this is an unsophisticated take — it’s literally the only food I don’t like), so we had to get it on the SIDE. But even “on the side,” as they say in the biz, I could still smell it and kept asking Bri if my feet smelled while we watched TV (“TV” = Love Island) for a few hours. It was finally revealed that my feet actually smelled normal/good and it was the CHEESE I was smelling. I am so sensitive, so in tune, so easy to be around!

For dessert, we had picked up black-raspberry ice cream from SoCo Creamery. This ice cream is like nothing your little slutty mouth has ever tasted — it’s just beyond! Plus, at the SoCo shoppe, there was the most iconic woman, who in the midst of a (say it with me) pandemic, sampled at least nine flavors from underneath her mask. Chaotic Queen.

Sunday, April 26
Brian’s coffee and water followed by leftover pizza and salad for lunch around three. For dinner, I had some of that leftover sweet-potato veggie hash plus chorizo and rice and “mother’s medicine.”

I have made it one of my quarantine goals to learn how to make perfect rice. I know it sounds simple, but it’s hard — it’s always soupy or burned. This time, I really got it right and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (i.e., a huge glass of rosé). Bri and I both had out-of-body experiences after doing back-to-back Zooms with our families that totaled about four full American hours, so I needed more wine. I don’t actually really like wine. I prefer beer (guy’s-girl alert!), but lately I’ve taken to drinking rosé with ice. I kind of thought if it was extra cold and watered down, I’d like it more. And I was right. It’s the finer things in life …

Monday, April 27
Kicked off another exciting week in quarantine with Brian’s coffee and my morning water liter. At this point we had basically no groceries — we made it 23 days without going to the store! Epic win! — so I made grilled cheese for lunch, which I dipped in Frank’s Red Hot, of course. At first I felt cute, like a child again — I famously used to call grilled cheese “girl cheese,” which is adorable and true! It is my cheese! I am a girl! But a few minutes after finishing the sandwich, my stomach felt like shit, which was kind of nice because it gave me something specific to complain about instead of shouting “What the hell is going on?” out loud to the wall every 14 minutes.

That night, we randomly got drunk off Negronis because we watched that video of Stanley Tucci making one on Insta. They were amaze, even though we made them with definitely expired vermouth. I felt TiPsY after two sips and then had leftover kidney beans and rice for dinner … It’s a glamorous life. The plan was to go to the grocery store the next day, which truly got me hyped up now that we never leave the house.

I want to make coq au vin — doesn’t that seem like a thing I should do? I have such insane, unearned confidence when it comes to cooking. That’s just what makes me … me! XOXO miss u already.

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