the grub street diet

Matt Rogers Could Eat Appetizers Forever

“What I like to do is eat wings while I watch Hot Ones. I’m a maximalist.”

Rogers with his favorite salad, a great burger, and the sushi he trusted Postmates to choose for him. Illustration: Maanvi Kapur
Rogers with his favorite salad, a great burger, and the sushi he trusted Postmates to choose for him. Illustration: Maanvi Kapur

Matt Rogers commits to the bit. When he started his Have You Heard of Christmas solo show in 2017, he says, “The bit was that it was fake.” But now, it’s become a Showtime special and, as of today, a proper Christmas album, as well. “It’s almost like I did a bit on myself,” he says. In other ways, he’s learning to let go, whether that’s trusting Postmates’ recommendations to choose his food for him, or rolling the dice with a Spanish-language room-service menu he only sort of understands. 

Friday, October 27
Get this: I was in Bogotá, Colombia, for work. It was my first time in the country, so it was my first time eating here. I had reached out to a few friends, and I was like, Does anyone have literally any idea what I should do while I’m there? The altitude was fucking me up. I had heard it might, but wow. My body kind of couldn’t tell up from down, so I woke up pretty early — too early to eat — and bummed around until I realized, around noon, “Fuck, I’m in a new country; I should go out and explore. Also, I need to eat.”

This realization resulted in me walking an hour to a museum I decided not to go into because I was — what! — too dizzy to consume culture. I did find a restaurant across the street: Tinteo Candelaria. A gentleman was standing at the door. “Abierto?” I asked. He laughed at me and beckoned me inside. I’m pretty sure “abierto” is the Spanish word for “open,” but I was still laughed at. Either way, I walked in.

I got self-conscious about how long I cross-eyed looking at the menu (everything is en español), and so I finally just pointed to something and asked for it based on a vague recollection of some palabras from my high school Spanish classes. I definitely knew the word “arroz.” I also asked for something I’m for sure familiar with: “mojito.” I actually don’t even really like mojitos. But whenever I see a mojito featured on the menu, I’m like, It must be a thing here. When you go to Miami, people are like, “Oh, you have to have a mojito.” But do I have to have a mojito? They’re not that girl. But you concede and drink a “famous mojito” in Miami and you’re like, Congratulations. This was fine. And it probably took the bartender a really long time to make.

I was served, yes, rice, as well as beans (I get pissed at myself for not remembering these are “frijoles”), as well as an over-easy egg, a well-cooked (maybe too well-cooked?) sausage, and ground beef. I don’t know if it was the altitude, but I only ate about three-quarters of the dish. My mojito got taken care of with ease, though I wished there had been a little more ice. I like a lot of ice with any drink I have. More ice, please! Less of the actual drink I paid for!

I walked an hour back to my hotel, thrilled to be in caloric deficit because of all the walking and sweating, and absolutely guzzled water, which I hadn’t had any of all day. This has been happening too frequently as of late. I’ll be parched without realizing it and only understand how near dehydration I am when I start drinking water and cannot stop. I have to learn my lesson. If anyone ever asks you, “Can I get you some water?” Always say yes. There’s never a time when you shouldn’t be drinking water. That’s my rule of thumb going forward for myself.

In keeping with the theme of I don’t know what this is, but let’s try it, I ordered something called a Seafood Rice Encocado from room service, which I hoped would be some sort of seafood medley. I’m a seafood freak. Turns out encocado is another word for paella. This was a total slay for me. There was octopus, which is always a moral conundrum for me because, allegedly, they decorate their homes and are more intelligent than humans. But I ate the octopus because it was already cooked and in front of me. It was delicious, ugh — the Circle of Life. I also ordered a whiskey-based cocktail called a Tivoli. It was giving Negroni in a weird way. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t drink by myself at lunch and dinner, but my reasoning (read: excuse) was that I was “in another country and done with work!” and that “I have to get on a plane in a couple hours, and it’s a red eye; I need all the help I can get.” The truth is that I was going to take a Klonopin, and I just wanted a cocktail.

Before take-off, I had a glass of red wine to go with said Klonopin, and I passed out. I hope I didn’t snore.

Saturday, October 28
The red eye truly fucked me, and I ended up getting to my apartment in Queens around 8:30 a.m., at which time I went back to sleep and awoke just after noon. This made breakfast impossible. I’ve been in this apartment since April, but I am, forgive me, bicoastal. I’m trying to transition my life back here as much as possible. I used to live in extremely north Greenpoint, but living in Long Island City, I feel like I’ve discovered the hack to living in New York City. It’s close to Brooklyn, it’s close to Manhattan, it’s great.

I texted with some of my friends about the possibilities of the evening. It was the Saturday of Halloweekend so, being gay, there were a lot of opportunities to go be nearly nude and covered in makeup that no one would see because it’ll be too fucking dark anyway. (Apparently, the party my friends wanted to go to, Unter, was “Berlin cosplay” in that it’s a party-in-Hell-but-cool if you can get in, which is difficult. Yay!) Despite gathering information, I chose to abstain from Halloween activities this year. Whether it was from being truly discombobulated from the travel, or I just didn’t want to be in an environment that is heavily blanketed in techno music and drug use (which, other times, would be great!), I decided to lay low and participate in wholesome activities with my friend Jared. I was kind of happy not to be going out in an intense Halloween way because then I didn’t have to panic all day about what I was eating so I could look good in, like, I don’t know … a costume where I’m Mila Kunis in Black Swan But Gay. Just kidding, I couldn’t dress up as her or any gay version of her because SAG says “struck characters” in film and TV are prohibited this year (scrolling through Instagram, I’m seeing a lot of scabbing. I’m looking at you, Sexy Gay Mario). Did I mention the theme of that party was “death”? Anyway, I made up my mind to not go.

My friend Jared and I made an early dinner reservation, so I ordered a Greek salad with chicken from the Court Square Diner for lunch. The menu calls it a “Famous” Greek Salad, and I would agree it is very popular, at least in my apartment, where it is basically what I have for lunch every day. Note: I do ask for them to remove tomatoes — I could never wrap my head around tomatoes — and also grape leaves, which does, in fact, make me a bad Greek, and I know this will be polarizing. Oddly, they do not have a Greek dressing with their Famous Greek Salad, so I chose Italian dressing instead. I really don’t like their balsamic — it’s too thick.

It was almost four, and I was a little nervous that I would ruin my dinner by being too full, so I ate half of my Famous Greek Salad, which was delicious and — can I tell you something? I fucking loved the anchovies. I just loved their presence in the Greek salad. I saved the rest for later when I would probably be stoned. Better to get stoned and eat the last half of a salad than do something crazy like order Burger King, which is always a very real danger for me.

The last time I was at Joanne Trattoria was five years ago. I was with Bowen, Pat Regan, Catherine Cohen, Brandon Scott Jones, and Tami Sagher. We all ended up crying and talking for hours. We were all going through a hard transitional time, and we all ended up, for some reason, going around the table saying what we loved and respected about each other. The restaurant was closing, and the servers wanted to go. It’s against my moral code to overstay my welcome at a restaurant after being a server myself for a really long time. It was really weird, and honestly, afterward, I had an emotional hangover, like, “Did it really need to go there?” I think I was 28 and in my return to Saturn.

Five years later, there were no tears at Lady Gaga’s father’s restaurant on the Upper West Side. We ordered the famous meatballs. My friend Jared commented, “If he were Padma, he would say this tomato sauce was too acidic.” But he is not Padma, and I thought they were really good. There was live music. It was lovely. The singer did a truly beautiful rendition of “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac. We both had half of an absolutely huge portion of chicken parmesan and split a rigatoni puttanesca with calamari. The little bite in the air was so good, too. I love a cozy, maybe even a little bit rainy, gloomy Italian meal.

Then we walked from Gaga at Joanne to Taylor Swift at the Lincoln Square AMC. I had seen the concert four times, and I had already seen the movie, so this was essentially my sixth time watching Taylor Swift perform the Eras Tour. I was so full from dinner that I didn’t do popcorn, but I did end up popping off with a Coke Slurpee. No disrespect to the blue and red flavors of Slurpee, but they are not that girl, and they were never that girl. I have always loved Coca-Cola. I have a vivid memory from childhood of chugging a two-liter bottle while I watched the Backstreet Boys, running around my basement. I haven’t changed at all. I took a break during the Speak Now era to refill my Slurpee. That’s the best time to take a break. During one of the concerts, I went to the bathroom during “Tolerate It,” but I don’t recommend going to the bathroom then during the film because you really should watch Taylor act.

After the movie, we went to 16 Handles for frozen yogurt, and I had a cup with graham crackers, chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry with toppings of nerds, more graham crackers, and rainbow sprinkles. It was perfect. I was obviously high as shit, so this went all the way off. I usually like to have one flavor at a time when I have a lot going on in there, but this time, I mixed it all up.

I got home at like 11:40 and finished the Greek salad.

Sunday, October 29
I went to brunch at Five Leaves in Greenpoint around noon. It was rainy, and there was a 20-minute wait, so we went across the street to Starbucks and had a grande cold brew with oat milk. Five Leaves holds a special place in my heart because it’s where I had my first-ever lunch with my best friend, Greta Titelman. I feel very cozy when I’m there. I like that it’s on the street, right on a corner in Greenpoint, but Greenpoint now is sort of what Williamsburg used to be.

I ordered a “Big Breakky,” two eggs scrambled, hash browns, and seven-grain toast. I added thick-cut bacon, sauteed kale, and a side of smoked salmon. At one point, my friend went to the bathroom to go take a shit, and some guy was outside making a whole fuss about how, “People go in the bathroom, and they sit, and they’re on their phones; it sucks.” My friend finally came out of the bathroom and told him, “I was taking a shit, you moron.” Can you imagine? There’s only one bathroom at Five Leaves. I was like, “Where is he?” I wanted to confront. He was acting a little Williamsburg.

I also had a Michelada, which I love. That’s my Brooklyn Crab culture showing. I started working there way back when I lived in Park Slope in 2016, but then I moved to East Harlem with Henry Hoperski, who co-wrote nine of the songs on my album. I would commute 90 minutes from 110th Street to Red Hook because I made so much money there. With the amount of tips and everything, I only had to work two days a week, which meant I could spend the rest of my week trying to make money from comedy. I was really living tips to tips to make rent. Working there, I learned how to crack all types of crab and lobster. I loved putting the gloves on and being Dr. Matt, getting the meat out of the claws. I would crack customer’s crabs for them as much as I possibly could, and that would always make my tips go up. I once told some guys to visit me at work. I cracked their crab for them, and I think it turned them on.

Around 7:30, I ordered from Sushi of Miso. I was feeling a little adventurous. Usually, I am just a spicy tuna roll type of girl. Something that I’m trusting more is when you go on Postmates and it says, “No. 1 most liked, No. 2 most liked, No. 3 most liked.” Sometimes, I will just be like, Boop, boop, boop, and order all three of those. One of the top ones was a “Yummy Yummy Roll,” and it was yummy, yummy, yummy. The fried cream cheese, whew! I also got pork dumplings. I will admit that I use a lot of soy sauce when I eat Chinese or Japanese food. I used one whole packet for the eight-piece sushi and then one whole packet for whatever else I ordered.

Monday, October 30
I don’t do this a lot, but I literally forgot to eat. I had coffee! That was it. My head was just down all day, and I did not consume food. There has been a lot going on with my album coming out, planning the release party, doing press, and all the things. I’ve been doing this Christmas project since 2017, and the album is like the Final Boss version. When 70 people came to see it at the Duplex, I felt like that was a success. Now you realize, looking back, like, “Oh, that was all practice for this.” The team of people around you grows, and the amount of money you get to promote something grows, and the resources you get to do something grow, but you still have to work really hard to back your own project and get it out there. Forgetting to eat all day, I think, is actually a testament to how much I care about this because I never forget to eat. Well, a lot of the time, I don’t eat until noon because I like to pretend I’m intermittent fasting.

I needed to eat before doing the podcast with Bowen. We’re in this new mode where we’re not having a lot of guests and just doing it with each other in person. I can’t eat during the recording because people have left angry comments and said they would actually not listen anymore because of the way we sound when we eat on the mic. I was stressed, so I got boneless wings from Wingzone. Twenty boneless wings. Five hot, five cajun, five Korean, five lemon-pepper. With veggie sticks and carrots. Ranch and bleu cheese. I’m a wing-fucking-freak. I could eat wings all the time. What I like to do is eat wings while I watch Hot Ones. I’m a maximalist.

Tuesday, October 31
Just before noon, I had a raspberry oat square from my favorite Sweetleaf by my apartment, as well as a 16-ounce cold brew, which I accidentally ordered as a “grande,” which is mortifying. I’m a regular at that Sweetleaf.

I went to do The Kelly Clarkson Show. This was my second time doing the show. I am a huge Kelly Clarkson fan, but this time I was really excited because I wasn’t nervous. She really is so fucking cool. Even though they’re just getting their bearings at 30 Rock, they already have their snack shit together. Bowen was like, “Oh, I might swing by because I have to get some stuff from my office.” And I was like, “What the fuck is our life?”

There’s a song on my album called “RockaFellaCenta,” which is about it being a dream date spot, which we all know is not true. I hear it’s kind of popping off now with new restaurants. Hopefully, my song can divert people there. That being said, I did have a nice early dinner at Del Frisco’s after Kelly with my parents. I took them out to dinner to celebrate. We shared calamari and amazing egg rolls. I ordered this sirloin burger, which was like a medium-rare steak on a burger. There was a good fry situation, too. It’s a good place if you ever find yourself in Rockefeller Center wanting to get a little horny and hungry.

I thought I was done with everything I would include in this, but then before I went to bed, I ordered Checkers. I had fries, hot wings, and mozzarella sticks. I’m a slut for appetizers.

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