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How to make my girlfriend learn/appreciate/love cooking?


I was never much of a cook when I was living at home.(my mom was the best cook EVER!) But when i moved out, I started to cook, and not for nothing, my cooking was not that bad. I owe it to the love of food. Guess, when you love food, you should know what good food should taste and you pick things up along the way.
BUT for some reason, my girlfriend(who now lives with me) cannot cook for the life of her, and I can't figure out why? I even tried to stop cooking as to promote her to cook, but she is just so "retarted" in the kitchen, I get annoyed. (she is not a food person BTW)

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  1. IME you can't "make" anyone do anything! If cooking isn't her strong point, I'm sure she has others. If you cook, she can set the table, clean up, maybe shop....

    1. Some people just don't enjoy food as much as others, or they don't have a palate to differentiate well enough to cook well. It seems an impossibility to me, too, but it happens. That's why we have forums where we can share tips--if everyone loved food and cooking as much as we did, we wouldn't need a specific place to come to talk about it.

      But bully for you--you get to do all the cooking, and she can wash the dishes!

      2 Replies
      1. re: MuppetGrrl

        My sister does not like to cook but she always volunteer to do the dishes. It works for me.

        1. re: MuppetGrrl

          I'm new here, from Maine, & I agree w/the she can wash the dishes part. In my family it was/is whoever cooks doesn't have
          to/shouldn't do the dishes/clean up. It worked while I was
          living at home. I guess I'm lucky that both my BF & I love to cook.

          I also agree that you can't "make" anyone do anything they don't want to!

        2. I think you are talking about two different things- you can appreciate cooking, and yet hate to cook. The appreciation and love are not necessarily intertwined. You can also know what good food tastes like without cooking same.
          If you like to cook, what is the problem? Cook away, and maybe she will come to appreciate it. If not, oh well.
          I love to cook- and often spend weekends cooking things I know my family would never try- they eat it, and enjoy it- but I cook it because I love to cook and try new things.

          1. My husband has no "feel" for cooking so he is my chief cheerleader and cleaner-upper. And he drives me to exotic grocery stores and farm stands. I do all the cooking. It works for us.

            Over time your girlfriend may develop more appreciation for good food and show an interest in how it's made. That may be your opportunity to pass on your love of cooking.

            1. yeah I guess that's what it is! I'm very thickheaded myself to not understand why she doesn't have the love for food! She is the type of person to just order Pad thai or just friend rice whenever we go to a Thai or Chinese rest. (sigh!)

              2 Replies
              1. re: Nutzer

                This really is more of a relationship question than anything else. Some people don't like to cook; some people aren't adventurous eaters. Just like some people aren't good with technology or not being atheletic. To understand where she comes from, just think of something that you're not interested in. How would you feel if/when she makes you do something you don't want to do or have absolutely not interested in? She may change or she may not. Either way, you need to work out your issues of why you're so annoyed.

                1. re: Nutzer

                  Stop trying to change her and try to get yourself to accept that she's simply different from you. What if she loved cross-stitching and tried to force you to do that....wouldn't that be weird?

                2. Don't pressure her in any way. If and when she wants to try her hand at cooking something, she will. The more pressure she feels, the less she will want to even try.
                  Don't compare her abilities with those of your mom or yourself.
                  She's not retarded, she hasn't had the exposure that you have; and, furthermore, like MuppetGrrl says, not everyone enjoys food/cooking as much as we do.

                  1. My entire family is incredibly food obsessed. My wife on the other hand, couldn't boil water when I first met her. She had absolutely zero interest in learning how to cook. She did have a bit of an interest in baking however. I indirectly drew her into cooking by asking her to bake cookies, cakes, and pies for my coworkers, chop this, hand me that, stop at the store for this, etc. Her assisting me in the kitchen became a fun couple thing. I would also try and introduce her to food programs on tv. After a while she developed an iterest in a couple tv chefs and thier recipes. I gave her a lot of positive feedback. The positive reinforcement worked wonders. This method has worked for me with many clueless-in-the-kitchen exgirlfriends many years back as well.

                    1. Wow...I think this is really a 'relationship' question and not a 'Chowhound' question...it's hard to make anybody change. You can expose her to all the great food or cooking techniques or classes you want, but if it's not something that interests here, you may be SOL.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ricepad

                        I have to agree. Don't forget that for women, the concept (and responsibility) of cooking can carry a lot of emotional baggage. Thank you.

                      2. Generally, it's a very bad (though far too common) idea to change one's mates own characteristic preferences and orientations. It's bad because it's usually futile, and one then holds one's mate responsible for failing an unreasonable expectation.

                        If you want to cook for her, just do it because you love doing it, not because you get anything back for it.

                        Bottom line: it's much easier for you to change you than it is for you or us to change her. So work on your own annoyance, not hers. Learn that your annoyance is a learned reaction and it can be unlearned by recontextualising what you value.

                        Best of luck.

                        1. To me, that is a food question, because people sometimes (often?) expect women to be able to cook. I don't want to appear judgemental, nutzer, but maybe you were conditioned by your home environment to expect the household female to cook? Maybe not, it's hard to tell with so little info. But there's no reason that she should just be able to cook. It doesn't come naturally to all, and I bet there are things she can do well that maybe you aren't great at.

                          Another unfortunate trend today is that young women are being conditioned to hate food because of body image issues. They will sometimes (often?) starve themselves for looks.

                          I would ask: does your gf like to eat? If so, that's great because you can cook for her and, although you can't directly share in that experience, you can have quality time dinning together. And there's nothing stopping her form joining you in the kitchen, sipping a glass of wine and chatting while you cook. I've had a number of girlfriends say that watching a competent man in the kitchen is sexy.

                          If she doesn't like to eat, well that's a whole ofther ball of wax.

                          1. I'm a true hound, but I do not like to cook. I'm an "okay" cook at best, but my results aren't worth the time, effort, stress and expense. I can take the best of ingredients and turn them into something medicore. But I adore food and appreciate and admire those (like my brother) who have the gift and the desire to create for themselves and loved ones.

                            1. Ironically, one of the main reasons I tried to learn how to cook was to show up girls...I got tired of women complaining about how much work it was to cook a decent meal and tried to make a point about how fun and simple cooking a good meal could be...My motives are far less vindictive by this point, but the anger of my youth was not entirely wasted.

                              1. While this might be a touchy subject, I'm going to try to avoid the "try to change her" issues and just give you an anecdote.

                                D is a horrible cook. Don't tell him I said that. On top of that, he only ate vegetables in his soup when I first met him. Not that this stopped him from wooing me at some of my favorite spots. I didn't attempt to teach him or motivate him in the kitchen. We were just happy being together. He caught on pretty quick that cooking & dining are two of my passions, and he started to get into it with me. We started going to new and interesting spots on Tuesday nights and it was something we grew to love as a private joy. I cook most of the meals, but as our relationship grew, he began to embrace my passion and help me chop, pick out wines & serve the meals. And he's a great dishwasher. Anyway, time has progressed and now he's a decent cook. He can adequately prepare a meal that doesn't kill you. I'm very proud of that fact. But I let him take it at his own pace, and never once got aggravated with him. He was interested, so I helped. That was it.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: gini

                                  This was my husband as well, in part. the cooking part: he already loved to eat, and eat well, but well, he just couldn't prepare a meal to match his love...whereas I am a good (though certainly not outstanding) cook....however, he has really improved over time as I've let him take it at his own pace. But don't tell him I said so. :-)

                                  One additional tip to the good advice you've already gotten: I've learned that it is MUCH more effective to praise the good results and just be quiet about the less effective efforts, than to try and criticize, even if the criticism is meant to be productive. Everyone likes to be appreciated. I can always find something to praise, even if it is as simple as, 'wow, you really found the good cherry tomatos at the market today. I love cherry tomatoes in my salad'....

                                2. This might have been covered already but I have a couple friend(s) that are the same situation. With no pressure, over time, I've noticed that she has quietly raised her standards and expectations. It is subtle but real. Over time your enthusiasm or commitment or generousity will shift things, if not slowly.

                                  1. My husband is a good cook and makes fabulous bread. He grew up in a house where his mother was a good and interested and frustrated cook. His father was a food phobe. Everything had to be really plain. He had not been introduced to many different cuisines and was a fairly unsophiscated eater, but interrested non the less. I came from a family of foodies and was an Air Firce brat and had a totally different back ground. To me it always has been all about the food. When we were first dating seriously he asked me once if all I could talk about is food. we laugh at that now. Over time he has become more adventuresome than I. You cannot change someone who does not want to change, you can make introductions but cannot force it. Give it time and go slowly. If over time it really becomes an issue in the realtionship then maybe it is not the right relationship.

                                    1. My mother was a very good cook – and, while I loved eating, I never learned to boil water.

                                      When I moved in with my eventually-to-be-husband, some 27 years ago, he was (and is) a very good cook. I was happy eating and not trying to cook.

                                      One afternoon, I was with a friend who decided to cook a “wonderful” meal for our partners. Me, not knowing how to cook, simply helped. Well, she cooked the most god-awful meal I’d ever eaten. And proudly served it up. Her partner ate it happily! I thought “I couldn’t do worse than that!” The beginning ....

                                      1. Ah, you are where my husband and I were many years ago. I was really afraid of food. I was food phobic, I had a hot appendix and I was lactose intolerant, so you never knew what was going to make me sick. Man, I was a fun date!

                                        My husband, the patient Jackp, was a darned good cook. He loves food and is adverturous. And bit by bit, over the years, I spent more and more time in the kitchen. I had an appendectomy. I severely reduced the milk in my diet. After a while I began to enjoy the time we spent together in the kitchen and then I began having food ideas of my own and now I am a full-blown Chowhound.

                                        So, be aware that this will take time but it can be a great deal of fun.

                                        1. Get a new girlfriend, if she doesn't already like to cook it's unlikely she ever will!!!

                                          1. Nutzer,

                                            I was in the same boat as you with my fiance now wife. She just didn't like to cook and didn't want to cook. I ended up making dinner and she did the dished. I actually enjoyed that and we both had a nice meal every night. That was during college and when I had a normal job. Now I own my own business and unless we'd eat at 9pm there's no time for me to make dinner. Out of necessity she had to start cooking. At first it was simple dishes like jarred sauce and sphagetti. But we both grew tired of those types of dinners and she on her own accord started to get recipes on line and trying new things. Now she always makes dinner and I'm glad to say that she's good at it.

                                            This took many months for her to get comfortable in the kitchen and it was only because we had no other choice. If you decide to just stop cooking for no reason other than you want her to, I think that'd cause more problems than it'd help.

                                            Also, just like Jillp, my wife was never really into food but now she's a full blown chowhound and we have fun with it!

                                            1. My husband doesn't like to cook, nor does he want to learn.

                                              However, he is far more a chow than I! He'll try anything, although I as the cook will not. I love to cook though. I'll cook anything, but tasting is my biggest problem!

                                              Not everyone needs to be the kitchen king, and sometimes it is good if they are not.

                                              Loving/enjoying food does not mean cooking it too.

                                              So sit her down and ask her. Maybe you aren't the best teacher, sorry. Make it fun, try a dish you both like and maybe even have people over.

                                              Go to a class together if availale in your area.

                                              I took my husband to a cooking class with PBS Mary Espisito, and if nothing else he understood some of what went on in a kitchen. Did he come home and want to cook for me - hell no!

                                              By the way, she as nice in person as she comes across on TV. Due to health reasons I had to cancel her class this spring, but hope to be able to join her this year.

                                              So just be glad that someone enjoys and appreciates your efforts.

                                              1. Thank you all for your reply! I really appreciate the comments,and from reading, I believe you are all right! I should just give it time, and let her go on her own pace. Until then, i'm going to continue to be the CHOWHOUND of the relationship.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Nutzer

                                                  Yep, I think you're on the right track. Lead her to water...if she drinks, that's great. If she doesn't...well, cross that bridge when you come to it.

                                                  (Doncha love mixing metaphors??)

                                                  1. re: Nutzer

                                                    For what it's worth, my sister didn't really cook at all in her first marriage, but in her second marriage has taken a keen interest in it, including canning, etc. I think her first husband liked to cook, and her second husband wasn't really into it and is very thin and her love for him inspired her to learn how to cook. She's quite a picky eater, but I think has become a decent, though not adventerous, cook.

                                                    I would also echo the thoughts about not trying to "make" her cook or be more interested in food than she is - trying to change a partner/mate doesn't get you anywhere good, as far as I can tell. Now if only my husband could miraculously lose his hatred of card playing - after ten years of marriage I don't hold out much hope though.

                                                  2. Hey buddy, not everyone will be as good a cook as your mom. maybe your expecting too much. you could just try talking to her, but remember nothing is so strong as gentleness, and nothing is so gentle and true strength.

                                                    1. Well, the better question here is not why your gf ísn't a cook or a foodie, but why it concerns you so much. She's not your mom. Enjoy the memories of your mom's love for cooking and food, enjoy your new found love of cooking yourself, and put your energy into finding the things you and your girlfriend enjoy doing together, instead of lamenting who she *isn't*.

                                                      Meanwhile, hunt out a few foodie-friends to talk and cook with.....this worked for me! My hubby does not cook and isn't a foodie but I have a good selection of friends to talk with and I love to come here and get advice and tips.

                                                      Good luck! Have fun!

                                                      1. Don't stop cooking, just cook worse.

                                                        When I started dating my husband-to-be, he was too poor to take me out all the time, and thus cooked for me alot. It was sweet and romantic at first, but JESUS I got tired of broiled pork chops and broiled steak and baked potatoes w/ Lawry's seasoning salt.

                                                        At that time I could bake a mean cake, but had ignored everything else my mother tried to teach me. I took myself to the library for cookbooks, and we started making whatever looked good. I'll never forget making Chicken Kiev and having the herb butter actually spurt out when we cut into it.

                                                        Maybe if you play down your own competence you two can enjoy "learning" together. Here's an analogy: Gobs of men tell my husband how wonderful it is that we ride bikes together and how hard they have tried to get their wives/gf to ride. But the thing is, they are already experienced racers. My husband and I both bought and rode bikes for the first time (as adults) on the same day. So nobody felt like they were the tag-along retard (to employ your turn of phrase).

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: danna

                                                          Your first paragraph made me laugh out loud, thank you.
                                                          And the entire post makes a lot of sense.

                                                        2. When I met my husband, he didn't know the first thing about food- a total instant mac N cheese guy. He quickly figured out that I was what he affectionately called a "food snob" and decided to woo me by making dinner for me. So for his virgin attempt at real cooking he went through all my cookbooks and chose a recipe.... from Charlie Trotter! Unfortunately, he didn't read the recipe through all the way before starting so THREE DAYS LATER, after all the herb oils had infused, the pave had set and the poussin had marinated, we finally had a great (and memorable) dinner. And obviously, it worked! We're now married.

                                                          Fast forward 9 years from his intial novice attempt, he still leaves most of the cooking to me but has become a bigger "food snob" than I am!

                                                          1. This thread is great. Food can be so luxurious, romantic, playful, smart. Find the soft spot in your cooking approach, and your gal is sure to join you. Like food, relationships are something to savor.

                                                            1. If she doesn't like to cook, she might never, but she might find a few dishes that she can make, and you should focus on those. And please, don't make this a female-male thing. If you like cooking, you should keep doing it. I grew up in a house where the idea of mom cooking anything more than a roast chicken, Kraft Mac & Cheese, an omelete or anything that didnt go in the microwave left us running to the nearest Pizza place. However, my father likes to cook, likes to grocery shop and loves fresh foods, so guess what? he did most of the cooking, and still does. She has since expanded from chicken, to salmon and some other baked fish, and mashed potatoes, but that's about it...so while my mother definitely APPRECIATES food, it's still Dad out of town? which country do you want to eat from tonight?

                                                              1. take her to a cooking class. i cant believe no one mentioned that yet

                                                                1. I think the issue is that she is not a food person rather than is a pathetic cook. Let her wallow in Lean Cuisine, but find some friends to "cheat" on her with and go out to eat when you don't feel like cooking.

                                                                  For me, though, not appreciating food is a deal breaker upfront, I actually turned down someone I otherwise kinda like just last week over it. That being said, if they have an intense passion for ironing and cleaning I may make an exception. Where's ironhound.com?

                                                                  1. 1. Intentionally lose your job and get a new one that pays 20% as much.
                                                                    2. Go on an austerity budget where you can only eat chili and mac and cheese. Tell her if she wants to eat something else, figure it out.
                                                                    3. Profit (either she learns to cook or leaves because you're now poor, so no loss either way).

                                                                    1. There's no way to make anyone like anything. You may be able to teach her to cook, you may be able to teach her to appreciate fine food, but there's no way that you can teach her to genuinely like it. The best you can do is introduce it to her. She's either going to like it or not.

                                                                      Even if she does "learn to like" cooking, there's no guarantee that she will become a good cook. She may not be born with any aptitude for it. If she doesn't, I'm sure she has other talents.

                                                                      1. Exposure. Regular exposure to good home cooked food, and the cooking process. Involving the person in the "tasting while cooking" process also helps a great deal "Honey, do you like how this tastes? Does it need more salt maybe?"

                                                                        Now - whether there is any latent Chowhoundish character for the exposure to feed and nurture is something else again. My husband was hopeless with food and kitchen stuff when we met -- to him boxed mac and cheese was "fancy" because it had more then one step! He grew up in a tv dinner household. The first time I asked him to grab me a missing ingredient from the grocery while I was hip deep in dinner, I sent him for a head of lettuce, and he came back with a cabbage. "What, it's green - isn't it the right thing?"

                                                                        8 years later I am happy to report that he has recovered from his greens identification issues, and now happily whip up a pasta sauce or soup from scratch, and he is (pain me though it does to admit) a better basic baker then I am. Though I still own cake-making.

                                                                        So - folks can learn to appreciate and like good food, even if they've reached college age without ever encountering it. Exposure, regular and gentle.

                                                                        1. Well, its been 8 months since my last post, and I am proud to announce that my girlfriend has started to cook WAAAAYYY better now. To the point where I'm surprised at how good her food comes out. She is a very great girlfriend and I guess I just came to accept the fact that she is not a "food snob" and slowly try to introduce her to different types of food. I guess before and even now, my "beef" with the whole thing is, when I go out to different restaurants, my friends and I always get different foods and we all try and enjoy the different dishes, but with my girlfriend she contestantly gets the "SAFE" dishes and kinda ruins the fun enjoyment of going to different restaurants and trying differnt cuisens.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Nutzer

                                                                            I just posted about how I've been cooking to not have to eat out anymore, but the truth is I HATE cooking. I am slow, and I don't get the science of it (you know, the Alton Brown science). I can't be creative and just come up with things. I get frustrated when things don't go right and don't understand how to fix it (like my husband can). The recipe sounds easy, but then something will snag, and I'll be closed to tears - in the corporate world, I'm mentioned as the person who's never bothered by people or situations that bother other people! I hate having to stand there for an hour cutting, slicing, washing, and then the stirring, boiling, etc. I've made four new dishes in the past week, Chicken Adobo, Roast Duck, Linguine in White Clam Sauce, and Vegetable Lasagna. I probably spent two hours on each meal (I'm really really slow), and I've complained to the family about how tired I am. My poor daughter is in shock because she's rarely seen me cook (she's going to be 10 in three weeks!), but she's recovered quickly enough to tell me what other different foods she'd like me to make later this week (tortellini was one of them). But I just don't like it. Some of us are just better at cleaning up. :-)

                                                                            I also only order pad thai at Thai restaurants, although being Chinese, I do order different Chinese dishes. I say, let her order her safe dish, so she's comfortable eating with you and your friends. I'm very picky as well (no curry, bell peppers, mustard, yams, black bean sauce, egg plant, and a host of other things), so I used to get stressed out when I eat with others family style because people are ordering things that I won't eat. Finally I decided that I won't care about what others order. I'll just make sure I get to order a dish, and it's okay that I am eating my dish only; it guarantees I have something to eat. Sounds like she's found the same solution too.

                                                                            1. re: boltnut55

                                                                              Like you, I find cooking to be a source of stress, especially when going into uncharterted territory with technique and ingredients. I have a few "outstanding" items but most of my efforts are average at best.

                                                                            2. re: Nutzer

                                                                              My BF is a great cook, but he also sticks to the safe foods. However, I never saw it as him ruining the enjoyment of going to a new restaurant or trying a new cuisine. The only way he could ruin it is if he tried to keep me from going at all, which he doesn't. I think if I told him he was killing the mood for me by ordering chicken and potatoes, he'd probably dump me.