Even if you’ve never seen her Netflix special or watched one of her live comedy shows, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with Aparna Nancherla. The comedian has appeared on buzzy hits like Corporate, 2 Dope Queens, Crashing, and Master of None. She recently wrote a blistering op-ed for the New York Times about Louis C.K.’s comedy comeback. And if you’re on Twitter, one of the comedian’s pithy tweets has likely popped up in your feed before. Whether she’s musing on politics, food, the #MeToo movement, Hollywood, or random conversations overheard at coffee shops, Nancherla regularly proves that she’s one of the best Twitter users in the game.
For all these reasons, Eater thought the comedian would be the perfect fit for the second installment of the Famous Original Eater Questionnaire, an interview series where we ask the most exciting people in Hollywood about their dining habits.
Welcome to the Famous Original Eater Questionnaire. What’s the last thing you ate?
It’s breakfast time on the West Coast, so I just had some oatmeal, which is not a very exciting answer... but I guess we can pretend that it was laced with LSD or something.
What’s the last thing you drank?
I’m actually having coffee right now, which is the main thing that I drink besides water. It feels like two opposing battles: to dehydrate and rehydrate.
When and where was the last time you had a hot dog?
I’m a vegetarian, so I’d have to go with a veggie dog, and I don’t think I’ve had one even in the last year. Maybe at a bar? It is not burned in my memory.
Veggie burgers are everywhere, but veggie dogs, not so much.
I feel like in New York and LA, the coastal elite regions, they tend to be more plentiful. But yeah, I can’t remember the last time I partook of one.
What do you want to eat right this second?
I could probably go for a second breakfast. I’ve had a craving like an almond croissant for weeks now, and still have not fulfilled it.
You have some great jokes about Yelp reviews. What role does Yelp play in your life these days? Do you use it?
I do use it, mainly for restaurants, even though I’ve found that people Yelp all kinds of businesses... which is kind of crazy, but I guess it makes sense. I’ll mainly look at the star ratings, and I feel like I read the reviews more for entertainment, just because I find that people get so passionate about their dining experiences.
What’s your favorite but admittedly strange food combination?
I’ve actually been putting tzatziki — which is kind of like yogurt and cucumbers, essentially — on everything recently, like salads and grains and pasta. It’s kind of like a cooling flavor, but I don’t know if you’re supposed to put it on all the things I’ve been putting it on. I guess as long as it’s food, it feels like it’s fair game.
What’s the one food item you didn’t try until later on in life?
I think I was a belated adopter of guacamole, which is crazy because I feel like I eat avocados almost every day now on the West Coast. I remember as a kid I was, like, suspicious of it for whatever reason. I’m sad I waited so long.
What have you never eaten that you wish you could try?
I think one of the main times I feel jealous is if I go out with friends and it’s a tasting menu or something, and then I have to do the veggie option. Usually the restaurants are nice and they’re like, “The chef can make something for you specifically.” But sometimes it’s just like a single large carrot dressed up with a potato or something. And you’re like, “Well, I don’t feel like this was the best effort.” But I assume the chef is focusing on the other dishes, so in those cases I’m like, “Well, I wish I was could eat whatever everyone else is having?”
What’s your drink?
I love a whiskey-ginger.
What have you already eaten that you wish you could un-eat?
I’ve had a lot of mediocre Thai food that I wish I could un-eat. I think I love Thai food, but I feel like there are a lot of versions of it that are phoning it in a bit.
What album is the universal dinner party soundtrack?
I still am at a point in my life where I haven’t thrown my very own dinner party. But I think if I did throw one, I would try to play something epic and sweeping, like the Jurassic Park soundtrack or something, because I feel like I’d want people’s expectations to be high for the meal. You would at least feel like you’re part of something huge.
What’s your favorite chain restaurant?
I don’t know if this is a national chain, but I’ve seen it outside of at least where I grew up. It’s called Noodles & Company? Have you heard of it?
It sounds familiar… but there are a lot of restaurants with “noodle” in the name. What do you like about it?
I know that they at least have three of them. It says it all in the name. It’s like, “What if you like all types of noodles in different cuisines, but you just want it all in one place, in kind of a mass-produced fashion?”
Speaking of noodles, did you do any research to play your Rameniac character on Master of None?
It’s funny because that character was kind of an amalgamation on the show of like, two of the writers — maybe it was Aziz who was into ramen, and his brother was really into wrestling. So that character became kind of a hybrid of both of their interests. I came to the table a lot less knowledgeable, but I have friends who like both, so they helped me make sure I was pronouncing everything right and sounding like I knew what I was talking about. But they are definitely whole subcultures with people who are very intense about both subjects.
If you could bring any now-closed restaurant back to life, which one would it be?
There was a restaurant that I grew up with, it was a Mexican restaurant that was local called Chi-Chi’s, that I think has since closed, but I would bring that back. It was at least my first experience with Mexican dining.
What’s your tipping strategy?
I always tip 20 percent or above, just because I think waiting tables is one of the harder jobs, and even if I maybe have a waiter who’s not attentive or something, I always create an elaborate backstory for them that justifies why they might be distracted.
What’s your “Proust’s madeleine” — the food or drink that instantly brings back memories?
I have a very nostalgic feeling just around lasagna, just because I think it was one of the first foods I had that wasn’t like my parents cooking where I was complexly transfixed by it. I was like, “What is this? Why has no one combined these ingredients before? I can only have this food from now on.” So I think that’s a big one for me, and I still definitely have a sweet spot for lasagna. I also hate Mondays, so I guess I’m Garfield in that sense.
What’s a food secret that more people should know?
I mean, I’m a fan of breakfast for all three meals, but I think that you should feel free to have dinner for breakfast if you want.
Great strategy. You don’t even need a special cookbook.
Yeah, or sometimes even with the leftovers, you think, “I’m ready to have Dinner: The Sequel, but first thing.”