Pally, with his noodles, pizza, and the bagels he’s no longer allowed to eat the in car.
Illustration: Ryan Inzana
In the new pandemic-era comedy Who Invited Charlie?, Adam Pally plays a pothead, beer-loving man-child. In real life, he’s a 40-year-old dad raising three kids in the city, trying to make sure he takes his vitamins while getting everyone to practice on time. To manage, Pally’s happy to take his meals while he’s in the car, but his family had to put an end to that, owing, he says, to the specific … aroma … of his diet. Somehow, he gets by, also finding time to grab steak at Keens, organize a family taco night, and spend Sunday morning cooking anything and everything his kids are craving.
Wednesday, February 1
I finish off the half-bitten pieces of Eggo cinnamon-toast waffles that my kids leave on their plates. I’m really only eating them so I don’t get sick taking my meds and whatever Instagram multivitamin I’ve been conned into. My dad recently told me, “You’re 40 now? You’ve got to start taking care of yourself.” So, I’m taking these vitamins and trying to live to 41.
On my way to pick up my kids from school, I get my custom Sweetgreen salad. Let’s call it “Pally’s Produce Salad,” the PPS. I’m a creature of habit in the daytime. I can, like, subvert cravings for food I want by knowing that I’m going to have the same lunch every day. It’s kale, rice, carrot, cabbage, cucumber, roast chicken, chips, crispy almonds, and heavy spicy cashew dressing. And with bread. I’m not saying no to the bread. This salad is designed to fill, and to give the illusion of eating something healthy even though I know it’s not. Like, Well, at least I had a salad for lunch.
For dinner, I meet my cousin and a buddy who is in town at Frenchette. My cousin owns a clothing store in Montclair, and his business partner is a younger kid. They order some organic wine. It was supposed to just be apps and stuff, but then a roasted chicken comes to the table; you know how it goes. We have more wine, so I order the foie gras. My cousin and I dive right in. I see him, the younger kid, kind of standing back and judging. I’m like, “You don’t like foie gras?” and he’s like, “No, it’s just about, like, what it actually is.” Oh God. I have to feel bad now? I’m gonna get schooled by a young kid making me feel bad about the way that this duck liver was treated? I know it’s not good. I know it’s inhumane. But I’ve met my maker on it, and I want the foie gras. It’s delicious.
I heard Obama speak recently about “pulling the thread” of being a good person. Like, how magnanimous are we all, really? We all sleep on sheets that were made someplace that we don’t know about. Show me the person that’s fully, like, not wearing Nikes. There are so many things in your life that you can get stressed about and, eventually, you just have to be a member of society and do the best you can. For me, after the wine, I really want the foie gras.
Thursday, February 2
I have the same leftover Eggo waffles, and this time add a string cheese on the way out the door, because I accidentally took two Centrums, and I feel I might hurl.
For lunch, I have the PPS, but I eat this one on the hood of my car because my kids complain that my salads stink up the inside of the Volvo. It’s the heavy spicy cashew dressing that does it. It is one of the more pungent dressings, certainly not like balsamic vinaigrette or Italian. It’s got a real whiff to it, leaving its trail, dusting its crops. My car salads came up recently in a family discussion about how bad the car smells, and my wife sided with the kids. So it’s now forbidden for me to eat in the car. Even if they tried the salad, they’d be like, That’s delicious. Now get it the fuck out of the car.
It’s family taco night for dinner at La Perla Negra. It’s a banger of a joint. We usually go there once a week. We don’t have a set night like “Taco Tuesday” or something because my schedule is so rotating, and my wife is working as well. More just, Okay, everyone’s home? Let’s go out to dinner. We found it when we moved up here a year and a half ago — this is the first time since college that I’ve lived above 23rd Street. I don’t think I’ll ever go back. It’s the best area of Manhattan.There’s no Starbucks. Everything is really neighborhood-y, and there’s just a sense of community up here that you don’t find, even in Brooklyn. I can park easily up here. The food is so good. It’s just gorgeous. There’s a reason that Alexander Hamilton lived up here.
Friday, February 3
I grab a smoothie at my local spot, Yellow Banana. I do the Green Hulk, which I assume is just straight-up chlorophyll. It’s that green. In a moment of weakness — and great pleasure — I also smash an egg-and-cheese empanada.
For lunch, the PPS. A Sweetgreen salad three days in a row? This must sound like an ad. Nope, I just really want to feel like I’m doing something healthy while the sun is out. I have a self-tape audition to do, which I equate to sweating blood. It sucks so much, just the worst. Then I try to work out. That takes up a lot of my time because I find myself, the older I get, working out slower. I’m getting my reps in, but I just don’t have the energy to do it fast.
Friday night is date night. My wife and I both find ourselves in midtown, feeling nostalgic for our youth. We have this opening from 5 p.m. to 6:30 before our sitter leaves early. We are like, Do you want to just go get a steak? Keens is always it. We used to go there a lot when we lived downtown. We are a steakhouse couple. Especially when you are parents, it’s hard to sometimes get a table because you don’t know when you’re going out. You just find out you’re going to have a little bit of time. Steakhouses generally have early tables, and you can get a martini, and you can wait at a bar for the other person to get there. It’s just an easy thing. We go to all the big hitters: Del Frisco’s, Mastro’s. Luger’s is getting a bad rap, and while I still like a Luger burger, I’m not making my way to Williamsburg, like some fucking schlep. But Keens is always a home run. It’s so New York to me. They overserve the wine. I do not need to drink as much red wine as I do; ordering a bottle when my wife only drinks a glass and a half is a classic move for me. We have fun, though.
Saturday, February 4
Saturday is bagel day. I allow myself one per week. Living in New York, it’s very easy to be like, “I eat bagels every day.” They’re so good and so easy to get. My oldest and I have a routine where I pick him up from his grandmother’s on the Upper West Side because he usually sleeps there on Fridays. As soon as I grab him, he goes on his phone while I drive down to Chelsea Piers, probably speeding because we’re late, and he orders from Brooklyn Bagel for me. I’ve already preset the information — sesame, not toasted, with half-tuna, half–egg salad — then, I drop him. He runs in and does warm-ups. I don’t really need to watch that. I run to Eighth Avenue, get my bagel, eat it in 15 seconds; drive back, park, and watch the rest of his basketball practice. It’s a nice dance we do.
I’m not allowed to eat my bagel in the car anymore, either. My wife says the egg salad stinks. Sometimes it takes a multitude of people to tell you that your behavior is the problem. I think what I’m learning from this is that my food selection is the problem. I admit that eating egg salad in a car is suspect. That’s not good. I have to take a look at that.
I skip lunch because I’m still working off that bagel like a horse riding the Oregon Trail.
I have a screening of the movie at the Village East and make my way down there to meet the producers and cast a little early at Little Poland for some pierogies and blintzes. I did half-potato, half-spinach, and then a cherry cheese. Really good. Random, but for a Saturday night with no reservation in the East Village, you could do a lot worse. I used to live on 7th between B and C in my early 20s, and this is definitely the earliest I’ve ever been inside Little Poland.
Sunday, February 5
Sunday breakfast is kind of a rolling thing in my house. We don’t have much going on, relatively, so my kitchen is open from 6 a.m. to noon. I’m a short-order cook with orders coming in hot and heavy from the moment my eyes open. I’m fielding cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger. Flipping stuff. A million pots burning. I cook eggs, pancakes (regular and chocolate chip), waffles, sausage, and at the end, pasta with butter. There’s no cohesion. It’s every man for him-fucking-self between all the requests and cravings. A kid will come downstairs and be like, “I want cottage cheese on toast.” You’re like, What? How old are you? And next is, “Actually, no, I want challah French toast.” And you’re like, Oh my God. But I just do it. Having three kids is a true New York City nightmare. Who has three kids anymore?
We spend the rest of the day running around between all the activities: basketball, playdates, volleyball, and birthday parties. I house some leftover cold sesame noodles and three dumplings from Ollie’s that I find in the fridge drawer with the apples (no idea why my son would put it in there). We get it once a week. I love Ollie’s so much.
Dinner has to be family-friendly and gluten free because my mother-in-law is in tow! Yes! Yay! Picking a place with all of us is usually a negotiation. It’s like throwing a thread and hoping it will go through the backside of a needle. What place will my 5-year-old be comfortable in and like the food? Will my older, gluten-free mother-in-law like the food? At the same time, will my picky, picky, 9-year-old daughter like the food? Is it somewhere my 11-year-old won’t feel like we’re talking down to him? And it needs to have liquor for me.
My father is also gluten free. He’s a doctor, and my mother-in-law is a nurse, and they even used to work together. They’ve formed a holy alliance of healthful shit. They are a power couple of shit you don’t want to hear. They’re doing well, but it’s exhausting.
Being that we’re in my mother-in-law’s area, we hit up Zurutto, a local no-frills ramen spot. This place slaps, and my kids and mother-in-law won’t complain about it. I do the no-broth truffle ramen, a large hot sake, and a Hitachino white ale in a frozen mug. The kids eat fried chicken and edamame, my wife gets the rice bowl. I don’t remember what my mother-in-law got, but I know we did not have much conversation with the waiter, so she must have loved it.