I’m dating someone new. We’re still in that lovely honeymoon phase, which means we’ve yet to fight, or to don sweatpants with elasticized ankles in front of the other. It’s going really well, and I’d like to stretch out this part of the relationship, where everything is shiny and new, for as long as possible. Which is why, when my boyfriend came to my house to cook me dinner the other night, I had to check myself.
That’s right. You read that correctly. I have the kind of boyfriend who is considerate enough to make me dinner when I’ve had a really long day. Not only that, but he made the 30 minute drive from his place to mine to cook this meal. Men who don’t cook – make a note. Women who don’t cook, you should make a note, too. This is an all-around wonderful thing to do for another person, and it’s really pretty fun if you stop thinking of it as a chore.
So what, exactly, is my problem?
It wasn’t the meal. The food turned out fine. We had a nice, healthy weeknight dinner. Boneless skinless chicken breasts with veggies and brown rice. All good stuff.
My problem was that someone was ferreting around through my kitchen and my kitchen stuff. Someone other than me, going through my pots and pans and utensils and drawers. It was nerve-wracking. My kitchen is my domain. That isn’t to say that it’s perfect, or even organized. This is the mess that is my utensil drawer. I can’t even bring myself to show you my disaster of a pantry. It’s imperfect, but it’s mine, and I know my way around it.
During every step of his cooking process, I wanted to suggest a different, better way of doing it. He chose a small cast-iron skillet for sauteeing the chicken, prompting my suggestion for a larger, stainless steel saute pan. When he settled on a smaller stainless pan, I couldn’t stop thinking about how there was too much chicken for it’s size, and that the pan would be overcrowded and cause the chicken to steam rather than saute.
When he defrosted both of the enormous chicken breasts on a tiny salad plate in the microwave, the edges of the raw chicken hanging dangerously over the sides, I proposed that he transfer them to a full-sized plate. He didn’t. I think I had nightmares about salmonella-induced food poisoning that night.
I nearly flipped when he tossed the rough, inedible ends of a bunch of asparagus into the garbage disposal instead of into the trash bin. He lives for stuff like that, but for me, those should go straight into the garbage can. Why put the stress on the disposal?
He stirred a pot of vegetables using just the wooden handle of one of my spatulas, without the rubber head. I take them apart for washing. The rubber piece goes in the dishwasher for sanitizing (that hot pink thing in the center of the pic above is one of them), but the wooden handles get hand washed so that they don’t warp. I don’t bother to put them back together for storage. Both pieces go into the utensil drawer on their own until I’m ready to use the it the next time. So, there he is, standing over a saucepan of mixed veg, just stirring away with my Le Creuset wooden stick, which he found in the utensil drawer, probably right next to an actual wooden spoon and 3 or 4 metal spoons, and my mind is just racing.
What is he doing? And why is he doing that? I’ve been to culinary school, I’ve watched far too much Food Network, and that is NOT how I would be doing this! My way is clearly better! Not only better, but my way is CORRECT.
It took a lot of mental effort to not jump out of my chair and take over. Finally, about three-quarters of the way through the cooking process, I realized that I should just shut up and let the man cook. He’s 37 years old, and he hasn’t starved yet. Clearly he is capable of getting dinner onto the table. And even more important, he was doing something to take care of me, which is amazing. If he is ever nice enough to offer again, I’ll leave the room while he works, and only offer cooking tips if he actually asks for them.
But I will bring the $300 Shun chef knife into the other room with me. No one else comes near that delicate blade!