Aziz Ansari on Backstage Riders, the Quest for Good Indian, & Being a Spice Pansy
Colin Patrick Smith
Since our investigation of how that grande dame of comedy, Kathy Griffin, uses Twitter as a culinary concierge when she's on the road, we've noticed that many of our favorite comedians tweet an awful lot about food (and podcast about it and blog and tumble and all the rest.) While we're obviously enamored with all things edible, we wanted to dig deeper into the food-comedy connection, so we're launching a mini-series in which we talk to some of L.A.'s brightest comedy minds about what they're eating and why.
First up Aziz Ansari, whose Twitter bio reads, "I'm an actor/comedian. I play Tom on Parks and Recreation on NBC. I also like food a lot" and who often tweets about the pleasures and pitfalls of over-eating ("Would it be weird if I gained 300 lbs just to go on I Used to Be Fat?" he recently pondered. "I'm definitely up to eat that much.") Our personal favorite was his poetic saga in three tweets:
Anyone wondering how I feel after taking down a cheese enchilada on my flight to Chicago, I can officially confirm - I feel like shit.
Still feel terrible. #LiveTweetingAftermathofEatingaCheeseEnchiladaonmyFlightoChicago
I'll just eat the rice and beans... maybe one bite of the enchilada... FUCK IT I'LL EAT IT ALL. OH NOOO!! I WANT TO DIE!"
We caught up with Ansari over email while he was bringing the gift of comedy to the people of Europe on his aptly named "Dangerously Delicious Tour." To read just turn the page...
Squid Ink: We've noticed that a lot of our favorite comedians devote a significant percentage of their tweets and podcasts to discussions of food. Why do you think that is?
Aziz Ansari: I think it's because we tour a lot and when you're on the road eating good food is a fun thing to do.
AA: The food there is delicious! What do you think??? Those places really are so fantastic. If you haven't been to any of them, drop what you are doing now and go! Unless what you are doing is watching after someone's baby, in which case, don't drop that baby on the ground and go eat tacos or whatever. That would NOT be cool.
Flickr/arnold | inuyakiJitlada jungle curry
SI: At Jitlada, how spicy can you go?
AA: Once my friend Susan ordered the Chef Tui's Challenge, which is a menu item that has several warnings basically saying "DON'T EAT THIS UNLESS YOU CAN HANDLE SUPER SPICY, SERIOUSLY, WE ARE NOT JOKING!" and she got it and ate it like a champ. Despite my Indian heritage, I am a total spice pansy. However, I was curious to just how spicy this stuff could be. I took the tiniest bite imaginable and I went down HARD. I was hurting so bad. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't have taken a smaller bite and it just destroyed me.
SI: Do you cook? Any specialties?
AA: No not at all. It's something I'd like to be good at, but I just don't have the time to invest to get good. I would like to learn how to cook eventually though.
SI: How are craft services on the set of Parks and Rec? Do you have a favorite crafty dish?
AA: I make a strong effort to go healthy with the crafty. I like apples and peanut butter, coconut waters, and almonds.
SI: You tweet a lot about food that you have while on the road. Are there certain foods that you have to avoid before you go on stage?
AA: Before I go on stage while touring, I try to eat pretty healthy so I feel good onstage. I usually do this nice mix of Greek yogurt, honey, and almonds. You realize what a loser I sound like putting that on my backstage rider? "YES CAN I HAVE SOME PLAIN NONFAT GREEK YOGURT PLEASE?"
SI: Anything you're particularly excited to eat while on your European tour?
AA: I was very excited to eat at Noma. Also excited about doing some Indian food in London. I never have Indian food I really love in restaurants with the huge exception of Vij's in Vancouver, which is unreal. I also love this place Ranoush Juice in London, which does an amazing chicken schwarma - again hard to find good schwarma on that level in the U.S. I've found.
SI: Quesadilla or enchilada?
AA: NEITHER - MULITA!
SI:Our readers have a pretty good grasp on the L.A. food scene. Is there any food that you've been dying for in L.A. that you've not been able to find?
AA: Ooooooooh good question - what's your favorite Indian place readers? Vietnamese place outside of Orange County?
So suggestions for Mr. Ansari? Please consider writing them in the comments section...
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