As an LGBTQ American, I am used to being disrespected, laughed at, and ostracized. Yet nothing could prepare me for the barrage of hate I received over the weekend upon merely sharing an authentic part of myself with my social media followers.
On Monday (Labor Day, a supposedly progressive holiday), I tweeted, “Having George's Forbidden Treat (toast with peanut butter, heirloom tomato, and sea salt).”
This is a snack that was first introduced to me by an old coworker when I worked at a tech company in California, where people are not afraid of innovation. At first, it sounded like an unusual combination of ingredients. However, after I tried making it myself, because I am open to new experiences and not a Bush Republican, I found it surprisingly delicious. I later learned that peanut butter and tomato is a common combination in West African cuisine, perhaps most notably in mafé, which I was not familiar with having grown up in a Greek household where the only available flavor was oregano.
For the purposes of this particular treat, a ripe heirloom tomato has an acidity, sweetness, and jamminess that pairs perfectly with the earthy, nutty flavors of peanut butter, and sprinkling some Maldon salt on top brings it all together beautifully. There is even a recipe for it on Food.com, the official website of food, that has accrued zero reviews. It is essentially an elevated, open-faced peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
But you would not guess that by looking at the replies to my tweet. In fact, you’d be forgiven for thinking I murdered multiple Disney animals, including Meeko, in the making of my healthy, vegan snack.
“What the fuck,” responded my traitorous coworker Brandy Jensen. “Yeah truly what,” chimed comedian Joel Kim Booster. “Just gonna go ahead and keep the train rolling here and say that’s one of the most fucked up things I’ve ever read in my life,” replied Cumtown co-host Stavros Halkias. Within mere minutes of posting, I was being targeted by power players in the fields of digital media, entertainment, and podcasting, who were in no uncertain terms inviting their followers to harass and intimidate me. The comments kept rolling in. “Sounds awful.” “Who hurt you?” “Cancel Culture, do your thing.”
The lack of intellectual curiosity was astounding. I knew “food media” was supposed to be toxic, but this was worse than I could have ever imagined. However, if there is one thing I’ve learned from watching other people be targeted by online mobs for expressing controversial points of view, it’s that one must not only double down but make the experience a defining part of one’s identity and personal brand, forever. Thus, without further ado, here is my recipe for peanut butter and heirloom tomato toast.
- 1 slice of whole wheat bread
- 1 slice of a large, ripe heirloom tomato (I don’t know what the varietals are called, but I love a bright yellow one)
- Crunchy peanut butter (I used Skippy brand)
- Maldon sea salt
Toast the bread. Spread peanut butter on the toast. Put the slice of tomato on top of the peanut butter. Sprinkle the sea salt on top of that. Enjoy your delicious snack, and bask in the knowledge that you are triggering your narrow-minded haters.