No men were injured in the writing of this post.

A few weeks back, Marianne and I wrote our weekend charter posts on how to get men to cook. You can read them here and here. I felt a bit iffy about doing this because I believe that men can and do cook, and that to come up with tricks and special recipes to get them cooking has a strong whiff of the double standard about it. Coincidentally, last night, while we were washing up for a large dinner party for which my husband had done all the cooking (well, I did boil the quails eggs), he took it upon himself to offer a few pointers for those women whose partners don't cook. And let's face it, maybe men can cook, and maybe quite a few do, but there's a hell of a lot that don't still. So something must be done and I will share with you those pearls of wisdom from a man that cooks (and makes minimal mess in the process).

Note that the phrasing of the advice may not always be his - but the substance generally is, (except in one fairly obvious case). 

1. Men like the idea of bulk cooking. You know how some men just have to buy 3kg of tomatoes for a salad for two, and more meat than you could eat in a month? Well, make use of that. Get them to cook it all up and freeze in portions you can whip out when you're too busy to cook from scratch. Bulk cooking is a very satisfying experience - your partner will get to handle large quantities of food, use the largest pans, and especially, bulk buy. But also, he gets to feel that he's providing for his family, not one meal but maybe four, that he's saving himself and you time and stress so that you can still have a nice meal on days when you both come home late and exhausted. Without ordering pizza: so he's also saving money.

2. My husband informs that any man who has had a university education, or has lived by himself for a period of time exceeding six months, will have learnt to cook his favourite dish. So word of wisdom number 2 is this: do not on any account learn to cook your husband's favourite dish! Ever. He says. He was very firm about that. I suggested that maybe some don't know how to cook their favourite dish and he said: they do. So that's that really. If your husband wants to eat something he really likes, he'll have to cook it himself!

3. Last point - my husband is known for always making three points - if you want your partner to do their fair share of the cooking you're going to have to relinquish control and ownership of the kitchen. That's right, it's going to have to be his too. You can't cook in somebody else's kitchen, you just can't. You're worried you're going to make a mess, fail to replace things in the right cupboard or drawer, use the wrong utensils, do something stupid and get in trouble for it. It's not exactly conducive to anything is it? So you're going to need to let go a bit. And, hey, let's go wild here and suggest that maybe you'll want to make decisions about kitchen design and buying new utensils together with your partner! Maybe he could even have a say in how the spices get to be organised.

And cooking techniques do vary. Just because you like to do things one way doesn't mean that he has to do them that way too! So you like to sing the punk version of God Save the Queen to time the boiling of an egg. He doesn't have to. Don't make him. Please. Let him him buy a timer if he wants to. Men like gadgets. It's not their fault.

And yes, maybe he likes to use one or ten more utensils than you judge strictly necessary. So what's the big deal? If he cleans them he can use them! And if he doesn't you have my blessing to beat him to a pulp with the rolling pin. That ought to teach him.

PS: If you'd like more advice from 'im indoors, or some feedback on how you're doing - please put that rolling pin down, you need to try the others things first! - don't hesitate to contact us here. We'd love to help. We are not, however, liable for any injuries sustained in the process of attempting to try any of these things at home (Please put the rolling pin down, now!)

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@jencull (jen) said...

No 2 makes so much sense I can't believe that I didn't think of it!!! Er, my husband never actually lived on his own though so it might not apply to us, however, he is a dab hand with a tin opener :D Jen.

Sandrine said...

Jen: there's a two step solution to that. First, for your husband's next birthday, buy him a cookery course (the chefs will even come to your home and show you how to cook what you want with your own utensils!) I know it's expensive, but surely, an investment. After the course, you book yourself a holiday, alone, leaving your husband to practice his new skills on the kids and acquire confidence. Oh, and you take the tin opener with you!

Irem said...

#3 is great advice. I actually got Mark to decide with me on where to store everything when we moved to our current apartment. He does cook much more here than he did in the previous kitchen where nothing seemed to make sense to him.

The number of utensils used, however, has to be curbed, since we have the rule that if he cooks I clean and vice versa.

Sandrine said...

That's a tough one, Irem. I can think of a few solutions. One would involve electrical fencing around the utensils drawer. But it's probably a bad idea to have something like that in the kitchen, could start a fire. Another is to institute a pay per use for utensils. Ask for one dollar to be put in a box for each utensil picked. You can then use the money saved up for anything you like!

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