F@*% jar sauce! Nat's what I reckon.
I am, of course, referring to the battle cry of "Nat's What I Reckon," the Australian YouTube champion who went "viral" during the first 2020 pandemic lockdown, on a mission to nourish the souls and bodies of weirdos and gutter punks around the world who appreciate a healthy sense of humor and a wholesome home-cooked meal lovingly presented with heaping sides of Australian-accented cuss words, dangerously long hair, and tattoos.
According to Nat's unorthodox self-help, autobiography, and cookery book, Un-Cook Yourself: A Ratbag's Rules for Life, his journey to unexpected lockdown internet fame began when he was a teenager and his father took him on a trip to India, where he contracted tuberculosis. Upon his return to Australia, the initial symptoms of infection were obscured by the usual effects of an unhealthy lifestyle and the medical community's biases toward... ratbags, as Nat would put it. His TB infection raged on for years without a diagnosis, ravaging his lungs and nearly taking his life while he unknowingly infected several of his friends along the way to figuring it out. He spent a horrifying length of time in isolation in a hospital ward, unable to breathe properly or receive visitors, and ended up losing a chunk of one lung to the extended damage of his long-untreated infection. (He has a gnarly blood eagle scar on his back from the surgery, which I gotta say is metal AF.)
Fortunately, Nat recovered enough to go home--with a new motivation to take better care of himself and his mates. One of the lifestyle changes he made was to learn how to cook proper meals--but he never considered making a career out of it. He planned on using another adaptation to hardship, rough humor, for his bread and butter. He was just about to launch his standup comedy career with his first tour when Australia went into lockdown in 2020.
When life handed Nat lockdown, he made Quarantine Sauce—and created a silly YouTube video about it, which he only expected his own friends to watch. Instead, it went viral faster than SARS-CoV-2 and launched him into a level of fame beyond what his live standup tour might have done.
Nat still struggles to maintain his physical health. That lung won't ever grow back, and throughout the pandemic, he has had to live very carefully because Australia's vaccine rollout has not been swift.
If you watch all of his cooking videos religiously like my husband and I do, you might notice that, as with mortals in general, his weight fluctuates. In some videos, he's more jacked than others. (He's always more or less jacked, though, adding to the visual experience.) But of greatest concern, his energy level ranges from manic to breathless. In some videos, he crackles and roars; in others, he mumbles and wheezes his way through the narration. I'm sure it can't help that Australia, like Siberia and the United States and Canada and a bunch of other places, is constantly on fire with totally chat air quality.
But in every video, Nat brings a heroic and hilarious attitude to whatever daily sh!tshow can be made a little more bearable with a laugh and a heap of flavorful nutrition.
This month, I finally got around to trying out his OG Quarantine Sauce recipe. I'd been waiting for local homegrown tomatoes to ripen, but unfortunately they didn't really turn out this year. I had all the other ingredients lined up and ready, so I was able to take advantage of a large tub of chopped, fresh tomatoes that landed on my kitchen table with our family Taco Tuesday takeout toppings. (Hey, sometimes it's just too hot to cook, and our kitchen has been under construction all summer.) I used those chopped tomatoes, and a splash of the hot sauce as well, to finally cook up a batch of Quarantine Sauce on the next day cool enough to open a window, and it sure was the sauce! I even made enough to throw some into a mason jar and freeze it for later.
Nat offers many more recipes on his YouTube channel, including more vegetarian options and suggested variations than he put into his printed cookbook.
But if your doctor has told you to eat some meat like mine did, and if you relish the challenge of following recipes in the metric system and heavy metal album cover art-style comic book format, Un-Cook Yourself is the book for you. I've now made every recipe in it except Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner (which I think would be best for a dinner party, something I'm not doing currently), and they are a deadset fortress of bickies, f@*%en oath.
Nat has been an inspiration to my family over the past couple of years to eat right, stay active, take respiratory contagion seriously, laugh at everything, swear through the pain, chuck into the bin what belongs in the bin, and promote vaccination. I hope you find his work inspiring too. As Nat says,
Remember, you're a bloody champion!