Hubby and I have a fundamental disagreement about food. I don’t get excited about it and he does. To me, food is sustenance. If it happens to taste good, all the better. Generally speaking, however, I don’t care enough about it to work particularly hard for it. I’m just as happy with a bowl of cereal or cold pizza as I am with Chateaubriand. Steve, however, comes from a family where food is an event. His mother is an accomplished cook who loves to read cookbooks, find new recipes, and experiment. She truly enjoys preparing elaborate meals. I’d rather ride my bike and get Thai takeout.
Now, before you go feeling bad for Steve, you should know that I am a capable cook. I know my way around the kitchen. I’ve been cooking meals since I was about thirteen. Not only can I follow a recipe, but I’m also completely adept at improvising and throwing together something tasty out of a pile of random ingredients in the fridge. I can cook but, not unlike the title character in Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener, I would prefer not to. It’s just such a lot of work for something I simply do not care about.
In a not-so-covert attempt to encourage finer dining in our house, we’ve mysteriously been receiving Cuisine at Home magazine for at least six years now. (I suspect my husband mentioned he liked it and his parents got us a perpetually renewing subscription.) Hubby drools while he drags new issues around the house with him and puts dog ears on pages he’s interested in. I usually pretend I don’t see it and then when he’s not looking I add the latest issue to the big pile of back issues.
The most recent issue, however, had a recipe that intrigued me. It was for crab and goat cheese ravioli with lemon cream sauce. In terms of flavors and ingredients, all my favorites were there wrapped in little raviolis, which I adore. The idea of pairing the pasta with snow peas intrigued me too. So, I stared at the recipe for a week, trying to decide if I should actually attempt to make such a thing. Eventually, curiosity got the best of me. I made it for dinner tonight. It took a while to prepare (as you might imagine raviolis would), but the cook time was quick. When I finally got it plated, it looked almost like the magazine photo. Yay, me. Then I took my first bite. Holy hell. Now I know why the magazine is called Cuisine at Home. It was fabulous. I paired it with a fruity yet dry Torrontés from Argentina, and Steve and I enjoyed a blissful, restaurant-quality meal in our own house. It was borderline miraculous.
When dinner was over, I surveyed the damage to the kitchen with a smile. Years ago to encourage me to cook more, hubby made me a deal…if I cook, he will do the dishes. So, the colossal mess in the kitchen, achieved by a ton of prep time and three pans on the stove simultaneously to perfectly time the ravioli, snow peas, and lemon cream sauce, was not my problem. I grabbed my glass of wine and headed upstairs and out of view of the destruction to hide out. I’d upheld my end of the bargain. I had cooked. My job was finished.
I asked Steve later if the meal was honestly worth the clean up. He emphatically replied, “Yes.” Clearly he is setting me up for more cooking time. Maybe I will throw him a bone once in a while. Perhaps once every month I can acquiesce and prepare a time-consuming but elegant meal for him. Perhaps he’ll eventually tire of the novelty of it. I’ll just have to make sure that the next meal I cook requires more dishes…a lot more dishes.