Brief History of the Struggle Plate & Other Culinary Adventures

cher clueless burnt cookies

Like undercooked chicken, the #struggleplate is nothing new. We’ve all seen, eaten and made them. Yes, even if you now possess culinary prowess, once upon a time you too burned, undercooked or ruined a dish. Don’t lie!

Before Instagram & hashtags, gastronomically challenged meals were simply suffered through, with no photographic evidence. Let’s be real, no one was trying to waste film on shitty meals, even less getting those disasters developed. Then came along The Sugarhill Gang. This groundbreaking trio gave insufferable suppers a new life in Rapper’s Delight.

There are different types of struggle plates we’ve become familiar with:

1- Unsuccessful Attempt/Fail

This classifies a range of different meals. Meals which are burnt fit in this first category. Others would included meals which look nothing like those in the picture/on the box/at the restaurant. Unfortunately, appearances aren’t everything. Instagram ignores the possibility of an aesthetically pleasing dish that also happens to stimulate your gag reflex.

2- Unaware/Clueless

When the cook just doesn’t know what (or what not) to do. Common sense is not usually used for these struggle plates.clueless cher baking cookies

3- Ugly/Unappetizing (Even Martha Stewart has fallen victim)

BuzzFeed wrangled up a nice assortment of Martha Stewart’s unappetizing snaps. Otherwise, we’ve all seen ugly.

I’d like to add a fourth category. One we often neglect: undercooked.

4- Undercooked/Food Poisoning

If you’re lucky, you can pick around the unsafe bits. If you’re unlucky, however, you’ll either be making frequent trips to the Porcelain Princess or awkwardly apologizing, ashamed of your lacking culinary skills. And, if you’re the unluckiest, you’ll be doing both between bathroom breaks.


Recently, I’ve just barely escaped that last one unscathed. See, I don’t like raw meat. I can’t touch it. I can barely even cook it (therein lies the problem). Once upon a time, I made meatloaf. It was a mildly traumatizing experience of plunging my hands into a mixture of raw turkey meat, eggs and oats. Ever since, I’ve been pretty squeamish about any meat that’s closer to the farm than being served. Also, I was a vegetarian for a bit, but that’s another story.


How do you like your chicken? Medium rare?

I nearly killed my boyfriend with undercooked chicken*. Did I take a picture? No. I was unclear whether or not undercooked chicken is #struggleplate worthy. What criteria does a struggle plate need to meet in order to be qualified? Bad lighting? Presentation? Is it cool if I undercook my meat? Is #struggleplate appropriate or is undercooked chicken more of a #foodpoisoning situation?

Maybe insufficiently cooked chicken isn’t being Instagram’d for a reason. I think in order to earn your struggle plate hashtag, your meal must first and foremost be edible.

Have a cooking fail story you’d like to share? Any meat cooking tips?

*The rest of the dish was salvageable.

Sources: gif 1gif 2

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