Alison Brie has played a range of popular characters on television and the big screen — a Stepford-y, scorned wife on Mad Men, a type-A student on Community, a “misunderstood intellectual” on BoJack Horseman — but in Netflix’s Glow, she shines as a dogged actress willing to slum it on Doritos and other vending-machine fare in order to make it on the small screen. Brie’s character in the ’80s-era series about a low-budget television show about an all-women wrestling league, Ruth Wilder, pounds sodas and munches on Twizzlers alongside her team in order to stay high energy for each match. The salty snacks also offer solace: At the end of the season, Brie’s character is comforted by a pile of colorful candy unloaded onto her hospital bed by her friends.
But the Los Angeles-based actress isn’t all that into junk food personally. She says she grew up on In-N-Out but doesn’t “really eat fast food anymore.” An avid cook, Brie says she and her husband, actor Dave Franco, plan vacations around food, researching restaurants and making reservations ahead of time, like they did for a recent trip to Nashville. Though she was in New York City primarily for work earlier this month, Brie made time to visit a few of her favorite spots. Eater caught up with the star to talk about food, drink, snacks — and why she keeps two jars of almond butter in her fridge at all times.
Eater: Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I’d like to introduce you to the Famous Original Eater Questionnaire. Are you game?
Alison Brie: [laughs] Absolutely.
What was the last thing you ate?
These sad raw cashews. [Brie holds a few up in her hand while frowning.] The thing is, this is not a good day for me to talk about food, because I’ve been running around all day and it makes me sound like I don’t love to eat — but I do! I was planning on going to Two Hands in Tribeca for one of their bowls for lunch, but I didn’t have time.
What’s the last thing you drank?
A green tea. I’m a big tea drinker. I don’t drink coffee really, but I’ll do a green tea like a sencha or a jasmine if they’re not fucking with the white oolong. I love oolong though.
When’s the last time you had a hot dog?
Oh, I don’t eat them because I don’t eat pork and I don’t eat red meat… but you know, at the airport before coming to New York, in the American Airlines lounge, I had a turkey apple sausage. That sort of counts, right?
Absolutely yes, that counts.
Although it was kind of smashed. It looked kind of disgusting, but then it tasted amazing.
If you could eat something right this second, what would you want to eat?
I would want to eat one of those balls from Lilia... those cacio e pepe balls… It’s like an arancini? It is maybe my favorite thing in the world. We just got back from Italy and I was like, I want Lilia. Dave and I are real foodies. Anywhere we go, we plan our trips around restaurants.
Do you have a favorite but strange food combination?
Do I? Every day I eat an apple and almond butter for breakfast, so that’s like my go-to food combination, but I don’t think that’s very unusual… I’m trying to think. I don’t know. I’m searching, searching the bank. [Brie spreads her fingers and waves her hands as if in front of an imaginary crystal ball.] Oh! Speaking of that turkey sausage, which I hardly ever eat, but when I do eat sausage, I like to dip it in honey, which might be a slightly strange food combination.
Maybe, but it sounds good.
It’s very good. But I always feel like people are going to judge it. So even when I ordered that sausage, I ordered a green tea on the side with honey. So people would think: Oh, that’s not weird, she ordered honey with the tea. And then I tried to cover my plate with a napkin while I dipped the sausage in honey. I didn’t want the chef to be offended — the airport lounge chef — to be offended that I had used honey on his turkey sausage.
But you’re clearly ahead of everyone, because how many people glaze their turkey with honey?
Exactly! It’s the best. Well, think of honey glazed ham... I feel like maple bacon and stuff like that is a big thing, the sweet with savory?
Fully agree. Okay, what is a food item that you didn’t try until later in life?
Okra. You know, I grew up in Los Angeles, so it’s not like people were hot on okra. I maybe didn’t even know what it was until I heard that Tom Colicchio hated it so much on Top Chef. And I quite like it… a lot of people do it really well these days.
Anything you’ve never eaten that you wish you could try? Any curiosities?
No. Well, again, searching, searching. It’s strange because I feel like I’m a pretty adventurous eater but I haven’t eaten red meat or pork now in probably over 10 years. So every once in a while if we’re at a restaurant and there’s some new amazing dish that is meat-based or things that have bacon on them, I’m kind of like, should I do it? And my husband dissuades me because he thinks that I might get sick. He has a real logical way of thinking about it.
That’s good that he’s concerned for your well-being.
Yeah. But then maybe it’s just a tactic for him to enjoy all of that dish himself? I’m like, “This prosciutto looks so amazing.” And he’s just like, “No, you probably shouldn’t have any of this because you’ll probably get sick.” Actually, to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever had really amazing prosciutto because I stopped eating meat before I was making good money and hanging out with fancy people. Like in college, no one was eating amazing prosciutto. I was eating In-N-Out. I wasted all my meat eating on fast food.
What’s your go-to drink?
A gin and tonic.
Do you have an album you like turning on when you’re hosting a dinner party?
I pretty much go to the Alabama Shakes for stuff like that, both of their albums. Sound and Color is great and I forget what the other album is called. But they’re both pretty good. Some of the songs get a little loud but it’s such a cool hybrid. It’s almost kind of jazzy, and it’s also kind of soulful. It’s also kind of rock and roll. I feel like it’s a real crowd pleaser.
You mentioned In-N-Out earlier. Is that your favorite chain restaurant still, or do you have one?
It’s not my favorite chain still, I don’t think, because I don’t eat burgers. When I go there, their fries are great. Do I have a favorite chain restaurant? Chain restaurant... no. Although, there is a Shake Shack across from my gym, which always seems really amazing because smells just waft in.
What’s your Proust’s madeleine? Is there a food you eat that immediately takes you back?
I’m trying to think of my mom’s go-to’s. You know, like noodle kugel. I’m Jewish, so that’s something that my mom has made my whole life. That’s a good one. It’s comforting. And you’ve always got to eat it. If I’m anywhere and they’ve got a kugel, I’m like “Oh, yeah.” And if my mom has made her kugel, it’s great — super buttery, creamy.
I love that. Is there a food secret you think more people should know?
Let’s see. Well, I love to cook, and almond butter is actually a great thing to have around... I’ve been doing a lot of sauces with soy — well, I substitute all my soy for tamari — with a little bit of almond butter, put in a little Sriracha, put in a little lime, a little honey. And that’s my go-to sauce right now.
For noodles, right?
For noodles, for any type of bowl, like you’re making a rice bowl, you can even put it over salmon. It’s sort of more of a vegan-y hack for a hearty sauce and bowl.
What’s in your fridge right now?
Definitely apples and almond butter, and truly I stock up because my husband and I both eat it and we have to have our own jar of almond butter. We like to eat it straight from the jar. Whole Foods brand. Crunchy, unsalted. Also in the fridge: There’s going to be kombucha. There’s going to be sparkling water, it’s going to be like Perrier. There’s going to be old brown rice from Thai food takeout that I think I’m going to repurpose for a meal but haven’t done that yet. There’s going to be an old red onion. I use a ton of red onion when I cook, but I feel like then there’s always like half a rotten red onion that didn’t get used in the background. There’s a ton of, oh this is not a food thing, but I keep all my face masks in the fridge.
That’s an amazing tip.
I like to keep those things cold. What else is in there? I’m truly trying to picture the landscape of our fridge. Usually a rotisserie chicken. You know what? That actually is my main hack for cooking. When I want to make anything and I just feel like I don’t have the energy to do the whole meat side of it, I pick up a rotisserie chicken from the market and then make the rest of the meal all gourmet from scratch. And then you just shred up that chicken and you toss it in, and you seem like the best cook ever.
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.