A girl’s not so secret weapon

In relationships, cooking is my secret weapon, which I use for evil much more than I do for good. I don’t have a problem misleading men into believing that should we date, I would be cooking up a storm to prepare meals for us at home. My discussion of farmers markets seems to bring out my maternal side. Men love my restaurant kitchen tales, which never fail to elicit the question, “So do you watch Top Chef?” And the fading oven scars along my arm validates my time spent in a kitchen. This sets the stage rather nicely for the first several dates, and if I’m lucky, even going into the relationship.

The real stellar men get smart and quickly settle into the gender stereotypes, only to come say hello to me while I’m cooking en route to the fridge for a beer. “You don’t need any help, right?” he’ll say as he walks away. Luckily for me the television has a higher priority, because the food cools way too fast as I carry dishes out one by one. No news is good news, since my complacency implies that things are perfect.

Weeks pass and it’s a fairy tale story, though soon enough, I begin to get antsy and start probing. “I haven’t been to a musical since I’ve been here in New York. Can we go to one?” The manly men I prefer to date never fail to cock their eyebrow at such an obscene question. “Uh…I’m not really into musicals,” they blurt out, not to miss a single word of “Scrubs.” It’s a good thing it’s Tivo-ed. “So…would you like to go to the farmers market with me sometime? It’s really fun.” “Sure, I guess.”

After a few more of those rounds and to no avail, I begin to get irritated. No, I get really pissed. And begin my plan to not plan any more home cooked meals. When 8 o’clock the next evening approaches, he’ll ask, “So, what are we eating for dinner?” I refuse to look up from my computer, “I’m tired today; I’m not making anything.” That blows over peacefully, since I don’t get more than an, “Okay.” And then he rummages through the freezer looking for the Costco burritos. Sometimes when I do make something to eat (starving myself is self-destructive and would mean that I have major issues), I’ll take my plate to the table and say, “Yours is in the kitchen.”

A few days like this go by and one day he’ll say to me, “Is there something wrong?” I inhale, opening up my diaphragm. And then it begins. “Yes, there’s something wrong!” I preface. What usually follows, “Just so you know, although I do enjoy cooking, it doesn’t mean that that’s the only thing I want to do! Especially for your ass!” His eyes widen. And they should because there’s a lot more where that just came from.

So I’m excited to say that I’m going to see “Passing Strange” in the next month or so. And I’m also back in the restaurant-dining scene with a somewhat reliable eating partner. Moving forward, my cooked meals evolve, becoming more strategic, sharper I would say, over time. Call me psychotic. Or them, assholes. But everyone eventually gets what they want.

• • • — — — • • •

Two years ago Grace left the kitchens in Northern California to study food in New York City. When it came to food she discovered that writing could temporarily fill the void that cooking left behind. Two and a half years later, armed with a Master’s degree in Food Studies from NYU, she’s ready to give back to the culinary industry and use her new skills to fight evil…

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