I Ate Like The Gilmore Girls & Realized Why They Always Order In

Photo: Photofest.
When I think of Gilmore Girls, it’s hard not to immediately think of food. Even the show’s other defining qualities connect back to that in my mind. They're probably talking that fast because they're basically mainlining coffee!

So it wasn’t surprising that, after Netflix announced the show’s return, an unauthorized cookbook, Eat Like A Gilmore, appeared on the scene. Funded by a Kickstarter campaign back in March, the book contains recipes that would be familiar to the show’s legions of devoted fans.

So, of course, I had to try it out. After all, I needed something to do while waiting for November 25 besides overanalyzing every photo still that’s been released. (Where my Team Logan folks at? Never give up hope!)

From Friday night dinners to burgers at Luke’s, I set out to recreate at least one dish from the show’s most iconic meals. I might not be able to visit Stars Hollow in real life, but at least I can eat like I'm there.

Would I feel the magic of living in a small town that is somehow both charming and gratingly annoying? Would I know what it’s like to have caring but misguided grandparents who are also rich? Would I suddenly be averse to anything that remotely resembled a vegetable? The answers, ahead.
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Friday Night Dinner
I started the experiment, appropriately enough, on a Friday night. So what better way to celebrate than with a proper Friday night dinner in the style of the classiest Gilmore of all, Emily?

In true Emily fashion, I started out the planning with a power move. My friend, Hillary, had already invited a few of us over for dinner at her place. After Hillary rejected my request to serve us squab, I pulled a page straight out of Emily's playbook and whined, wheedled, and sweet-talked my way into getting the dinner moved to my house.

To celebrate my triumph, I designed a typical Friday night dinner: pot roast served with soup and salad. While pot roast might not seem like a fancy enough dish for the likes of Emily and Richard, they frequently serve it over the course of the show's seven seasons. Most memorably, Emily shares that it's Rory's favorite dish while luring her into a conversation with their reverend about her virginity.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
Unlike Richard and Emily, I don't have household help to boss around when I'm hosting a dinner party. Instead, I relied on the assistance of pre-made soup and a slow cooker. Who needs a chef for your dinner when you have yourself — er, twelve hours in the past?

Since I was really committed to replicating the show, we even had cocktails, courtesy of my friend Maureen who volunteered to act as bartender. Hillary, she of the usurped dinner party, supplied the salad. Another friend brought cheese and another dessert. It turned into more of a potluck than a stuffy, sit-down affair, but eating in courses and enjoying a cocktail hour made the thing feel a lot more fancy. And, thankfully, no one fought, not even quippily, or interrogated anyone else about their sexual history.

I was beginning to think Emily and Richard really were onto something with these sit-down, multi-course meals, but at the end of the evening, even with the help of four strangers and Tetra Paks of butternut-squash soup, the kitchen was a wreck. As it turns out, me from twelve hours ago can set the slow cooker to "low," but she can't make the mountain of dishes go away.
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Luke's Diner
From episode one, Luke's was a second home to Lorelai and Rory. While the simmering sexual tension between Lorelai and Luke is certainly partially to blame, it didn't hurt that neither Gilmore girl could so much as boil water. If food wasn't pre-packaged in a plastic sleeve or available for delivery, it was probably from Luke's.

While Luke's menu has everything from breakfast pancakes all the way to post-dinner pie, for me, the first thing that came to mind was burgers (and not just because burgers are always the first thing on my mind).
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
I once bragged to someone that I only eat one burger a week. The person then pointed out that that means I'm eating over 50 a year, and suddenly I felt a lot less self-restrained. But while I'm always eating burgers, I'm rarely making them. I mean, what's a burger without fries? So then you're getting the fries out of the oil at the right time and toasting a bun and not overcooking the patty... Yeah, I'd rather just leave it to the experts.

Rather than give up and just go to my local diner this time, however, I went with the burger recipe in Eat Like A Gilmore. The result was a good, but basic burger. But isn't that what you want from a diner anyway? Uncomplicated, predictable, and not over-cooked? Blessedly, this meal resulted in far fewer dishes, though I did over-toast the buns a bit while also trying to melt the cheese.

It then occurred to me that, like the Gilmore grandparents, Luke has ample help in the kitchen from his short order cook, Caesar.
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Independence Inn/The Dragonfly Inn
Proving that opposites not only attract but can make best friends, Sookie St. James is everything Lorelai is not. That is to say, capable in the kitchen.

While Luke's signature creations tend toward the basic, Sookie's are anything but. From Baked Alaska to Osso Buco, the kitchen of the Independence (and later Dragonfly) Inn served nothing but the best. That made it hard to narrow it down to just one of her many creations over the show's seven seasons, but I decided to go with one of her greatest desserts: a s'mores cake.

Poor Sookie had to plan menus for not one but two of Lorelai's aborted weddings. The s'mores cake was intended for her never-to-be nuptials with Luke, though she did make a practice run for another couple getting married at the Inn.

This being my first attempt at a wedding cake, I found myself wishing, once again, for paid staff to help out.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
I wanted to make a wedding cake, instead, I wound up with a new invention I'm calling cake-pie.

I made all the cake's basic elements the night before and brought it into the office to finish. With the (unpaid) help of my fellow editorial assistant Elizabeth Buxton, I attempted to assemble the image I had in my mind: a layered cake with the marshmallow fluff icing peeking through on the un-iced sides, and a fudge icing dribbling off the top.

What I got was a mostly sunken cake-like thing, and chocolate liquid all over the counter of our office kitchen. Sookie would have pitched a fit and fired someone, but Elizabeth thought quickly. She found an empty pie tin, which we were able to transfer the cake to, allowing us to contain the mess and create the world's first s'mores cake-pie. (As far as I know.)

Marshmallow fluff, as it turns out, is basically edible glue. After we unstuck our knives from the counter and contained the icing flood, we served a very rich, slightly s'mores-y, incredibly sticky dessert to our coworkers. While I wouldn't serve it at the wedding of my best friend, it was a tasty, if messy, dessert.

After that, I was ready to move on to to simpler things. Would a recipe from an actual Gilmore girl prove to be my salvation?
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Rory's Bruschetta
The times that either Lorelai or Rory cook are few and far (like, really far) between. Aside from the super-creepy time that Rory makes Dean dinner in an attempt to fulfill some kind of '50s housewife fetish of his, she pretty much stays away from the kitchen. That is, until she's ready to play house again, this time with Logan. On their ill-fated trip to Martha's Vineyard with Luke and Lorelai, Rory makes bruschetta.
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While I'm sure there's a way to mess up bruschetta, it would be hard. Plain tomatoes on bread are already delicious, and anything else you mix in is just a bonus. I added basil, garlic, and a drizzle of nice balsamic and I felt like a modern-day Donna Read.
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Lorelai's Dessert Sushi
Rory might not show up on Top Chef anytime soon, but, compared to her mom, she's practically ready to open her own restaurant. The only glimpse of Lorelai's cooking we get is in season seven, when she surprises Rory with an trip to "Asia" that includes something called "dessert sushi."

While many of the Gilmore girls' more questionable food combinations are just alluded to, this time we actually get to see — and hear — what exactly Lorelai imagines dessert sushi to be. It involves Tootsie Rolls and jujubes.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
A lot has been said over the years about how Rory and Lorelai somehow get to be effortlessly thin despite never exercising and eating like they're storing up for winter. After eating dessert sushi, however, I was less concerned by how they allegedly maintain their figures and more about how they even manage to get up in the morning. How can you find the energy to run a small business or get straight As at an Ivy League institution when you are fueled by nothing but simple sugar?

I am at a loss to describe how dessert sushi tastes, but suffice to say that, if day-glo had a flavor, it would be this. Or maybe this is what it would taste like if you could consume the spirit of a Lisa Frank folder. I got a sugar headache after two bites and had to throw the rest out.

Clearly, "What would a Gilmore girl cook?" was the wrong question to have asked. Even asking, "What would a Gilmore girl eat?" was wrong, since I didn't have entire staffs and restaurants full of caring people hoping to feed me for free.

Now, I finally asked, "What would a Gilmore girl do?" The answer was obvious.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
The answer was, of course, order takeout.

Eating like a Gilmore by cooking their favorite foods would never get me the full Gilmore-girl experience. It was only by surrendering to temptation and placing an order for pan-fried noodles and dumplings that I truly felt in communion with Lorelai and Rory.

And let me tell you, it tasted great.
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