Monday, January 29, 2007

Men and food

In a recent post I talked about how my children, most now grown, have inherited a healthy and adventurous attitude about food. When my husband saw this he asked "What about me?" I really wasn't aware of any special recipes that he had, but I didn't want him to feel left out, so we started talking about his cooking and his "special recipes". As the youngest of five siblings, he had really not had to learn to cook because there was always someone to cook for him. And since our marriage 32 years ago, I have primarily been the one playing with food.


However, there are some things about my husband and cooking that I would bet are fairly common among men. The first is a great mystery of men and cooking. Why is it that my husband can cook anything on a grill, but nothing on the stove? On the grill he has made tea-smoked chicken, ribs, steamed oysters, herb-stuffed fish, venison, rabbit, and countless hamburgers and steaks. But once he comes inside... hot dogs and grilled cheese is stretching his culinary ability. It's like once inside, he enters the no-cook zone. This seems to be a trait closely associated with the Y chromosome, because I have talked to many other women who experience the same thing.

I have to say, though, that once inspired, he does a great job. For my daughter's high school graduation, we had the idea of doing a pasta bar with different pastas and sauces to order ( you will hear where that idea came from in another post). We had all the ingredients, and he was better than Bobby Flay at the grill, sauteeing ingredients, sauce and pastas to order for all our relatives, friends and neighbors, and not complaining once even though it must've been 150 degrees at the grill that day. (I'm not sure Gordon Ramsey's Hell's Kitchen could have been any more demanding that our guests!)
His grilling skills were put to the test during the 2 weeks we had no power after Hurricane Isabel. Friends and neighbors brought over food their "cook or toss" food and night after night we feasted on cheeses, grilled rabbit and buffalo, whole free-range chickens. While I wouldn't want to experience a storm like that again, there was something special, at the end of a day of working together to clear debris, about the cluster of men cooking outside, while women cooked and kids ran around the yards playing, acting like we were on an extended camping trip.
My husband's indoor specialty is Stouffer's lasagna from our local Sam's Club and fixes when I have to travel out of town or have had a tough day and don't want to cook. But his most popular dinner with the kids (and with me) is when he decides to chuck it all and take us out for a meal as a treat. Then... he is definitely our favorite chef!

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