2010.08.04 Someone's in the kitchen with David

Written by David Green.

Who cooks for you all?

By COLLEEN LEDDY

I laughed aloud when I read a teaser on the front page of the Detroit Free Press a couple weeks ago.

I’m not really sure “teaser” is the correct word to describe the item I read...at the Observer we call them “reefers,” as in referring the reader to an inside page, and I’m always a little worried someone will walk in the office on a Tuesday when I yell something like, “Are the reefers done?” as we get close to deadline.

Whereas Observer reefers are tiny little photos with a few words of explanation letting you know of something particularly interesting in this week’s paper, the Free Press runs nice size photos with headlines, captions and a short synopsis of the story you’ll find in another section of the paper.

And this reefer headline read, “If you cook together, you’ll stay together.”

The headline alone brought on the laughter, but the synopsis only added to it:

“Do you spend a lot of time with your sweetie in the kitchen? It might be good for the two of you. A survey has found that couples who cook together view their relationship more positively than those who said they did not spend time together in the kitchen.”

My immediate thought was, we’re always lucky to make it out of the kitchen alive when we cook together. It’s probably a dangerous thing for me to wield a knife when David is thwarting my efforts by secretly turning down the flame on the onions or adding turmeric to the tofu.

The photo shows a wife preparing bruschetta for dinner as her husband looks on. It seems more like he’s keeping her company than actually cooking anything.

Flip to the Life section and you see the husband stirring vegetables in a wok as the wife leans toward him laughing about something. The photo looks a bit staged to me and not much like reality—not my reality anyway.

David and I are just not that highly evolved when it comes to sharing kitchen space. It’s a small kitchen and, invariably, whenever we’re in it together preparing one meal or another—which is just about every day—I’m always where David wants to be...which causes him to lament that I’m always in the way...which brings to mind the chorus of that tune, Father’s Whiskers.

Oh, they're always in the way,

The cows eat them for hay,

They hide the dirt on Daddy's shirt,

They're always in the way.

The song makes me smile, but to David it’s no laughing matter. He’s usually in a hurry.

“I just stand there, silently waiting, figuring eventually you’ll finish chopping, chopping, chopping or whatever you’re doing,” he says.

I was quizzing him about our kitchen interactions. I thought our culinary capers had improved over the days when his carrot peeling could send me into paroxysms of frustration. I think he does his carrot peeling in secret now, because I can’t really recall the last time I witnessed carrot heresy.

“Don’t you think we’re cooking better now?” I ask.

“Cooking better? Do you mean eating better? I don’t know what it means to cook better,” he says.

“I mean I don’t say anything now,” I explain.

I think I’ve improved dramatically, refraining from commenting when he does something that conflicts with my kitchen sensibilities such as how to wash leafy lettuce or cook brown rice.

But David hasn’t noticed any difference.

“You’re in that position where you have to do it yourself because everybody else does it wrong,” he observes.

Darn, I really thought I was getting better.

But he tosses a few examples my way to remind me of who I really am.

“The amount of mayonnaise I put in tuna, the balsamic vinegar I put in tuna...”

Oy, he’s right. I can’t abide it—not just the mayo: too much—or the vinegar: wrong kind (apple cider is best), but, the draining of the tuna water—he doesn’t squeeze enough out. He doesn’t take the lid completely off nor does he press down on the lid with all his strength to remove every last drop of water.

He’s brilliant at removing all the bones from smoked salmon and superb at mincing garlic, but his method of washing leafy lettuce leaves me wincing.

“I think I cooked you an egg once and you ate it,” he said. Was there a forlorn hint to his voice?

I don’t know how we’re still married.

If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, David must have ulcers.

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