I know, CPP, you are irritable that there will be no pictures. I always seem to think of taking pictures when have chicken hands, or after I’ve just eaten what I’ve cooked, or way before I’ve done any cooking. This, indeed, is why I will never be a food blogger.
But I’ve still got some things to say about Food, and more specifically about the adventure that has been cooking for The Dude.
One of the things that I truly do love about The Dude is that 1) he likes to eat the food I cook, and 2) he is always so crazily appreciative that I cook for him. (His mother doesn’t cook. And apparently that weirdo has never gone out with a woman who cooked him meals. This is astonishing to me, probably because the “cooking for guys” thing has always been my thing, mainly because it’s cheap and I spent a lot of time dating when I was a poor student. And also, I just like it, so not cooking ever just doesn’t compute.) But so anyway, those are some good things about cooking for The Dude.
But it’s also the case that prior to my cooking for him, The Dude did not have the most… educated palate. This translates in a variety of weird ways. One is that he thinks he doesn’t like vegetables, but if you feed him a vegetable he’s never heard of or tasted, he’ll eat it and, so far, like it. Or if you hide a vegetable he thinks that he doesn’t like in a sauce, he’s totally fine with it. And then, sometimes, if you’ve hidden it in something enough times, you can convince him to eat it when it’s not hidden (but not always). He loves sushi (raw fish and all), but he turns up his nose at things like couscous (which he didn’t know existed until I made it for him). He refuses to eat cabbage – raw or cooked – but he loves sauerkraut. My explanation that sauerkraut IS cabbage has done nothing to change his mind about this. Also, a constant refrain from him is that I cook things that are “too fancy” and I “shouldn’t do so much” – typically after he’s devoured whatever I’ve made. So it’s… a process.
Now, I’ve cooked many amazing things for him (but regular stuff, too, obviously). The first “fancy” dinner I made for him was after we’d been dating for about a month, when I made my fabulous braised chicken. Then there has been lasagna bolognese (sauce from scratch), Boeuf Bourguignon, a beef roast, sauerkraut and kielbasa, a lovely pork roast with rhubarb chutney and scalloped potatoes, herb-roasted chicken thighs and quinoa with bacon, pork chops with homemade applesauce and mushroom risotto….
And this is a man who boils – BOILS – chicken breasts EVERY week to make terrible chicken salad (in which the only ingredients are the awful boiled chicken and mayo), and chefs up some macaroni to drown in jarred cheese sauce, to make his lunches for work every day. It never changes. In seven months, no change. (You see why I force vegetables on him. He claims that he takes vitamins so it’s fine, but I disagree.)
But even after all of that, he still didn’t truly believe that I enjoy cooking, and that in fact I’d prefer cooking to going out most of the time. But then, this past weekend, we reached a major milestone that has appeared to change his perspective.
I roasted him a chicken. Now, let’s be real, it’s really not that big of a deal to roast a chicken. Sure, it takes time, but if you’ve got the time to let it roast away and you know how to use a meat thermometer, well, it’s pretty hard to fuck up a roasted chicken. Now, it is true that the one I made for him was divine, and it involved (a full stick of) lemon-herb butter, and I have a convection feature on my oven so the skin gets extra awesomely crispy, and I served it with a lovely arugula, avocado, and orange salad and summer squash gratin and mashed potatoes with goat cheese and I even went to the trouble to roast peaches for desert, so really, I do understand that it was awesome. When I brought out the chicken, he was hilarious: “That’s a whole chicken! I don’t know what to do with that!” (Let’s note: we did not eat the whole chicken. I made it because I wanted to do other things with the leftovers, including to make stock with the carcass, so in many respects this dinner was more about my own thoughts about food for the week than it was about cooking something special for him.)
Seriously, that meal took only maybe an hour total of me actively doing stuff in the kitchen. Yes, it was a delight, but it was easy, in contrast to some of the other stuff I’ve made. And yet. This meal apparently convinced him, in a way that nothing else has done, that 1) I love cooking and 2) I can cook anything in the whole world. Indeed, this was “the best” thing I’ve ever cooked for him. (About this I disagree, but it’s also the case that he has said this before… I feel like maybe everything is the best thing he’s ever eaten until he eats the next thing.)
But so anyway, here is the turning point. So he’s coming over tomorrow, and he texted me to ask whether I just wanted to have dinner and watch a movie or something, and I said that was fine and I asked if he had any preferences about what I made for dinner. Because he is lovely, he said if I didn’t want to cook then he could pick something up on the way, but I said, “oh no, I’m happy to cook. But nothing fancy.” Now, before that chicken, he would have just said, “oh, whatever you want to make!” but now – NOW – things are clearly different. So here is The Dude’s menu:
Salad (but he wants croutons and blue cheese dressing!); garlic bread; fettucine alfredo. Oh, and RED wine. Because now that he’s with me he’s Mr. Wine Guy, even though before me he was Mr. Beer Goes With Everything Guy. (Beer still serves in a pinch.)
Now, it’s funny, I was already thinking pasta, and it just so happens I have everything in the house to fulfill his wishes except croutons, blue cheese dressing, and garlic bread. He magnanimously insisted that he will pick those up on his way to my house. Ha!
But I do think it’s fair to say that I have majorly transformed his notion of a “not fancy” dinner. When I asked him why *that* dinner, he said, “Oh, it sounded good and I figured it would be easy for you.” Which, of course, it is. But I did remind him that of course we would not be having store-bought Alfredo sauce, so it’s not *that* easy. His response? “Yummy.”
I might have created a monster.
Read Full Post »