I am possibly the world’s most reluctant cook.
When 5 o’clock rolls around, my husband bursts through the door with an appetite the size of Texas.
He doesn’t exactly ask, but I know of primary importance to him at that moment is the answer to a question as old as time, and one I have come to dread. The question is, of course:
“What’s for dinner?”
My husband, who after two years of marriage is beginning to suspect his wife is not exactly an inventive, creative, apron-bedecked cook, gamely holds his tongue mulling strategy to extract dinner information.
I sigh inwardly and glance over at the kitchen counter, where hopefully I have put out meat to thaw. I usually forget.
He knows my reaction can border on irritable, and proceeds carefully, as past responses include:
1) Deep sigh. “We’re on our own tonight. I’ll boil you some eggs if you want. Besides we just got deli meat from Wal-Mart. Can’t you fix a sandwich?”
2) “Oh man! I forgot to put out meat for dinner. Ummm — I was hoping you would bring home a pizza.” Imploring gaze, eyes wide, arms outstretched helplessly.
3) His personal favorite, which is a freshly lipsticked, fluffed and perfumed wife in front of the stove stirring something, entrée smells wafting tantalizingly through the air. Background music fills the house and I am humming. This does not happen often.
4) “Wanna grill tonight?” This is the compromise approach. I have had the foresight to actually thaw the main dish and figure he can cook it, and I’ll toss a salad. Doesn’t matter that it may be below zero outside.
My husband is what I refer to as a ‘foodist,’ and I am of the ‘non-foodist’ persuasion.
A ‘foodist’ is strictly concerned with the food, and does not care about or notice aesthetics surrounding the meal experience.
A ‘non-foodist’ perceives food as fuel and a bothersome necessity, but enjoys the atmosphere and ambiance of the event.
We are still learning to compromise in this area.
For instance, if my husband walks through the door after work and notes I have not started dinner, he may good-heartedly attempt a restaurant venture. The conversation goes something like this:
Husband: “How about we go out for dinner tonight?”
Wife: Standing indecisively in kitchen, hoping that a tornado or an earthquake will prevent another evening of cooking and cleaning up. “Okay.” Crosses arms. “Where?”
Husband: “Well, I’m in the mood for seafood (or steak or chicken pot pie or pig’s ears or whatever — fill in the blank).
Wife: Nodding, keeping face neutral. He has put the ball in my court, and I toss it back like a hot potato. “What place did you have in mind, honey?”
Husband: Face assumes cautious expression. His hopes that I would select a restaurant are dashed, possibly rendering objectives of dining out and making wife happy at the same time impossible. “Ahhh — I was thinking about Restaurant A.”
Wife: Face squinches in disapproval. “Eww! I would not go there if you paid me! Besides you KNOW I don’t like how they (fill in the blank).
Husband: Feeling hopelessness slither up his spine. “How about Restaurant B?”
Wife: Huge eye-roll. “I heard their portions are too small and their prices are too high. Besides, they don’t have any atmosphere!”
Husband: Shrugging, walks down hallway and decides to shelf the idea, thinking, “Who cares about atmosphere? I just wanted something different.”
I sigh and resign myself to slinging food around. I pull the ever-present chicken breasts out of the freezer as my husband returns to the kitchen, in stay-at-home clothes.
Husband: “But we had chicken last ni-” Stops in mid-sentence as he notices my eyes dissolve into tiny, mean slits aimed in his direction.
This is the classic tug-of-war between a foodist and a non-foodist. The foodist is always looking for new food attainment peaks. The non-foodist is always looking for the easy way out.
If the non-foodist actually pulls out frozen chicken and makes an effort to cook, they figure the foodist should not complain. This drives foodists crazy. They not only want the non-foodist to cook, they want VARIETY as well.
My husband alertly notes by my expression that he has caused more harm than good in the last few minutes and grabs me in a bear hug as he murmurs an offer to clean up the kitchen after dinner.
A bear hug always brings speedy resolution to a food fight. And the clean-up offer was good for 100 husband-points.
It was a win-win. At least for me.
This article was first published in “The Lighter Side,” Capital Journal, Pierre, SD, February, 2010.