I’ve learned something important about cooking for people who cook for a living. They’ll happily eat almost anything, as long as they don’t have to participate in the preparation of the food. Almost ANYTHING. Peanut butter and jelly on rye bread, with caraway seeds. Flattened bags of Funyuns dust. Plain carrots that have been boiled to mush. If someone else is cooking it, the professional chef in your life is eating it without complaint, even if the food is under salted or slightly overcooked . On the converse, if you put a little effort into making a decent dinner for the pro-cook, you’ll be lavished with praise and appreciation, and possibly even offers to scrub the dishes post-feast.*
I cook for Jon, the chef in my life, more often than he cooks for me. I’ll never say that the meals I make are better than his, and he’s much better about keeping the kitchen tidy while cooking is in progress. You might refer to me as Hurricane Beth when I make dinner, because the apartment is getting wrecked. Regardless, he is always appreciative of a home-cooked meal, and even though I always ask for his honest opinion, he rarely critiques my food. I’ve recently gotten over his compulsion to dump a pint of hot sauce all over everything, many times before even tasting a dish. I used to assume meant that the food-du-jour was flavorless and unsatisfying. Now I know that Jon just enjoys sweating at the dinner table and the colonic effects of super spicy foods. We all have our pleasures in life…but I’ll start to worry if I see him stirring Sriracha into cereal milk.
Last night I made a Japanese-inspired dinner, complete with cucumber sesame salad and pork gyoza, which were super tasty and will be featured here soon. Jon ate several spoonfuls of Chicken Udon Soup before adding in chili paste, which for me was akin to winning Bronze in the Olympics. (The day he doesn’t add any hot sauce at all will be Gold.) This clean, delicate soup is the kind of food that fortifies your soul on a cold day. Shiitake mushrooms, pulled chicken meat, star anise and ginger…the whole is so much greater than any of its parts. I snagged the recipe directly from this month’s Cooking Light Magazine, but you can get it right here. And you really should get it. Slurp up this soup as soon as you can.
*This is in no way guaranteed, but if you do receive an offer that involves dishwashing, respond with an unrepentant and enthusiastic “YES!” Failing to do so may decrease, or completely eliminate the likelihood of this offer in the future, in which case you have no one to blame but yourself, fool.