HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Are there childhood foods of your partner that you cook to make them happy?

My wife is recovering from a wicked cold and not sleeping well. I cooked her favorite breakfast (Her father's too.) this morning, just to cheer her up, and as a TGIF. Fish cakes topped w/ a fried egg, with sides of B&M baked beans, B&M brown bread and a slice of fried ham. One happy Yankee girl. she also loves leg of lamb and lobster for special dinners.
What do you cook for your mate?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. campbells tomato soup with a handful of rice thrown in, and grilled cheese sandwiches made with cheapo cheese and white bread.

    Also, lasagna made with cottage cheese.

    Normally, we eat really well, but sometimes he wants things the way his mom made 'em. :)

    1. Cute post! His mom was a gourmet chef, and I decidedly am not. Every year for his birthday his mom made him this intensely complicated cake-like dessert that I recreated a couple years ago with the help of some chef friends (it took 2 days). For me, if I'm having a bad day, he'll make me chocolate chip cookies just the way my mom did - the Toll House recipe from the back of the chocolate chip package. I know he likes to get creative (stems from growing up with a chef mom) but for me, he'll do it exactly the way the package says.

      1 Reply
      1. re: soxchik

        Wow that is really thoughtful. I know for me it's hard not to tinker with things. Great topic! For those of us that can cook it can be such an easy way to make someone happy. I've made creamed chicken to please and also, for my friend John , hamburger gravy, trying to replicate how his dad makes it. But he is a friend, not a significant other. So when he informed me at the last minute that the gravy should be over homemade mashed potatoes I told him foggetaboutit and he was having it over bread or toast. Oh and I used to make my one friend grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches. Food from childhood is hard to beat! Gets through al the defenses and gives us a time trip. They got that right in the cartoon movie Ratatouille!

      2. Here's what not to do.

        Many years ago mrs jfood under the weather so jfood figured he would make some chicken soup. Finds a great recipe and spends hours making this delicious pot of soup. He brings a nice bowl to her in bed. She looked at it and said. "This is really sweet, honey, but can you make real chicken soup? And the recipe is half a cut up chicken, one peeled onion cut in half, a peeled carrot and water."

        Jfood walked down the stairs, tail between the legs and made her "real" chicken soup.

        BTW, the really skinny noodles are the only ones that go in real chicken soup.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jfood

          Similarly, my wife craves pastina with butter when she is under the weather. The first time I made it for her, way back when, I thought she'd enjoy a few of my favorite embelishments like grated locatelli and freshly cracked peppercorns. It was rejected, of course, and I had to remake it the real way- which I still do to this day. Some people just don't like the 'classics' messed with ;)

          1. My DH has a real soft spot for spaghetti and homemade meatballs-BIG meatballs, like his Italian grandmom used to make. It's very pleasing to hear that mine are as good as hers!
            Having breakfast for dinner is also a treat from his childhood that he still enjoys when I (occasionally) surprise him with it.

            1. My significant other's mom is a great cook, but she grew up in Wisconsin. I grew up in south Georgia. Needless to say, our cooking styles and methods are very different.

              One of the best Christmas gifts I have ever gotten was a recipe box filled with her favorite family recipes, all on hand written recipe cards. I will treasure that forever and if the house was burning down, it would be one of the things I grabbed on my way out the door. Now I can make meatloaf, porcupines, swiss steak, and ginger snaps, just like his mom's. Although I admit I *tweaked* the meatloaf a tad, but he doesn't notice.

              Oh, and the meatloaf always has to be served with whole baked potatoes, and the swiss steak with rice.

              1. When my wife was pregnant a few years ago, she was having cravings for the old Cantonese dishes like her grandmothers used to make. "Real Cantonese food, not that British stuff from Hong Kong they serve in the US."

                I think I'm in little trouble here.

                She gives me the name of the dish. I've never heard of this. She says it again in english. I've STILL never heard of ths. Off to do some internet research and make a desperate call my MIL. Several hours later, a (prbably poor) version of this appears on the table. Dinner before 10PM, and everybody happy.

                2 Replies
                1. re: lgphil

                  Sweet Italian Sausage with Scrambled Eggs, the hubby's Mom used to make it all the time. Pan fry the sausage then cut into half inch slices, beat up the eggs, pour in a skillet and sprinkle the sliced sausage in....sprinkle with grated parm it is one easy dinner and it makes him terribly happy...win win!

                  1. re: lgphil

                    I make a couple of things for my DH, his favorite is an apple pancake (which is actually a dutch baby with apples) every Sunday morning. He loves love what he calls "small pancakes" which are really just that, small pancakes or silver dollar pancakes. When I made a stew, it has to have dumplings, and the gravy has to be thin, just like mom's. Nothing fancy when it comes to these dishes, which is exactly what he wants, but then, if I want salmon with a miso glaze, he more than happily devours that as well!

                  2. When sick DH likes spaghetti with ketchup and white rice with enough soy sauce to turn it black. Lucky for me, those are easy, and easily modifed into palatable things for rest of us. Bleccch. I try not to make faces while he's eating.

                    In return, when I feel like the world is against me, he makes me spam, eggs and rice, all cut up and mixed together in a big bowl and brings me a serving spoon so I can eat entire mouthfuls a bite at a time. Aw, ain't love grand?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: yamalam

                      Spam is legal grounds for divorce.

                    2. Well the partners have changed, but I have definitely done this. With my first husband who was from Panama, it was cow's foot soup and fruitcake. Took a while to get the recipes close to his memory as he was a kid then and could only give me vague input about taste. With another it was these intense memories of hospital food where his mom worked. The kitchen ladies adored him and fed him well. I finally met one of them and she was kind enough to give me her apple dumpling recipe. Not sure I really got there with that one. Of course, if we expand this to our kids it is a whole 'nother thread.

                      1. my long-term bf and i broke up a couple of months ago, but we are still somewhat civil to one another. when we were together, i learned how to make his two favorite brazilian comfort foods (his parents were both brazilian and spent much of his childhood there.) as a surprise i would make kibe (brazilian version of the lebanese meat and bulghur wheat torpedos) and pasteles ) pastries fried and filled with a savory meat filling.

                        6 Replies
                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                            feijoada isn't really one of his favorite foods (hard to believe, i know!) luckily kibe and pasteles are a lot less time consuming to make, too!

                            1. re: trishyb

                              I love feijoada, bacalao and pico mixto, oh charasco too.

                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                Passa, Got a good recipe for bacalao?


                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                  Yes, but I'm in Boston right now, just ate some in a great Portugease bar in Peabody.

                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                    Maria, I've a local source for salt cod from an old farmer/fisherman. It is traditional in poor Maine cuisine, but is hard to find now.
                                    I cook it in a lot of ways, baked or fried w/ onions and garlic, w/ scrambled eggs, onions and potatoes, croquettes, in a cream cassarole/ w again potatoes and onions, Salt cod cakes, and soup w/ cabbage. And one very unhealthy traditional Maine way called Salt cod w/ pork scraps (over mashed potatoes and topped w/ raw onion. I love it. I guess it is my salt fix.
                                    Which do you want? I ain't a real refined recipe guy, I just cook w/ what's on hand.
                                    I see from your profile that you live in Napa, a memorable time w/ my bro and cousin in the early 70's. We have an old, large painting of the Gualala River, by Annie Lyle Harmon (She had 400 paintings destroyed in the '06 quake.) hanging in our living room.
                                    Worked at Bartletts Estate Winery in Gouldsboro, Me. a few yeas ago and will never forget the day I shipped 3 cases of blueberry wines to the Napa Valley. Talk about irony.

                          2. My dear love enjoys something called "Chicken Stone" - a dish he grew up with at a restaurant from his hometown. I tried once and failed MISERABLY. We dubbed my attempt "Chicken Disgusting" I had scoured the internet for weeks looking for something similar. Still can't seem to come close to it. Oh well. I'll keep trying, we've got pleeeeenty of time.

                            1. aww! you are such a sweetie! you sound verrry lucky to have each other.

                              i've learned how to make masala dosa for my SO, his favorite food of all time. (one of mine, too, now.) i'm a bit of an early riser, so one spring break when I was staying with him and his family, his jetlagged indian aunt taught me how to make perfect dosas in the wee hrs of the a.m. when everyone else was still asleep.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: cimui

                                Cool! I have the 1st edition of an Indian cook book in Finnish; given to me by the Indian Ambassador ( a tough read!)

                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                  hah, i imagine. though half the time when i 'read' cookbooks, i'm mostly looking at pictures, anyway.

                                  incidentally, my sister was just traveling around finland, recently, and said one of the best meals she had in the country was at an indian restaurant in helsinki. good figure!

                              2. Rhode Island clear broth chowder for my Rhodie boy.
                                Linguisa rolls.
                                I'm going to learn how to make him clam cakes (again RI style)

                                1. lasagna. it was one of two things that his mom could make well (the other was roasted duck).

                                  of course, i make it better :-)

                                  1. My husband's favorite comfort food dish, dal dhokli (a Gujarati dish from western India), involves making dhokli, which are sort of like noodles and sort of like dumplings. And really hard to make. I have tried a couple of times, and although he ate it I knew it wasn't like what his mother used to make. She apparently was known throughout their city for her cooking. Sadly, she died before I met DH, and I never had a chance to ask her for a few recipes. Her daughters (DH's sisters) have done their best to reproduce their favorites. A word to the wise: get your folks to write down those cherished family recipes....just in case. You never know.

                                    The good news is that even when my attempts to duplicate some of hubbie's favorite recipes fall flat, he always says "It was cooked with love, and that's all that matters..."

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: janetofreno

                                      I learned my pop's favorite that mom made for him. Kolbasa, pork ribs, baked in Kapusta (saurkraut) w/ mashed potatoes, a cucumber, onion and sour cream salad, hot horse radish and a cold beer. Just made it my son's last meal. We drive to boston this a m to put him on a plane to Thailand to teach. Boy am I jealous.

                                      1. re: janetofreno

                                        dal dhokli is wonderful -- i love that stuff. i've found that for technically unskilled ppl like me, dhokli is easiest made without stinting on oil. oil on the rolling surface, oil in the water when you boil them. friends of mine who've been making the stuff since they were eight are able to roll out the dhokli thin and not damage it in the pot without using much oil. a bit like making piecrust, i guess -- which i'm also terrible at.

                                        my problem is that i still haven't figured out how to get the really good multilayered taste to the dal!

                                      2. I always do this. I remember one special request came at Christmastime for Pfefferneuse.
                                        When he ate them, he became silent, as though transported back in time into a world of memories of his childhood and his family. For that reason alone...

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. When my husband and I bought our house and were planning to host our first Thanksgiving dinner (2 years ago?), he asked for "pink stuff" in addition to the normal menu of potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, etc. My MIL supplied the recipe, which I reproduce here for anyone interested:

                                          1 package (2 envelopes) Dream Whip, made per the package directions, and tinted pink with about 5-10 drops red food coloring
                                          1 can fruit salad with cherries, drained
                                          About 1/2 bag mini marshmellows
                                          Mix together and refrigerate.

                                          He loves it, and he loves me enough that he doesn't make me eat it...

                                          1. My husband's mother was Puerto Rican and, when we were first married (going on 38 years ago), he used to tell me how he craved rice and beans just like she used to make at home. One night I decided to surprise him: I heated up a can of Heinz Vegetarian Beans and prepared some Minute Rice, then stirred the two together. He looked at it and asked, "What's that?" He very sweetly ate it (I can't imagine how) and then took me, the next night, to a Cuban restaurant so that I could see where I'd made my mistake. I eventually asked my MIL for a few cooking lessons and, to this day, he swears my Arroz con Pollo is better than hers was. That's love for you.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Deenso

                                              Gosh that is sweet. My husband is Dominican, and he's in charge of making rice and beans (recipe has been posted on Home Cooking). i've only recently learned to make rice properly, thanks to him.

                                            2. My BF mentioned how much he loved his Mom's meatloaf several times during our first year together. His Mom emailed me her recipe so I could make it for him when he was having an especially hard time at work. I was expecting something really gourmet or to include some type of homemade gravy, since she's Italian. Nope, ketchup and bacon atop a very 1960s version of basic meatloaf! Future MIL was thrilled, no one had ever asked her for her meatloaf recipe before & BF was also happy but realized that his tastes may have matured since the last time he had Mom's meatloaf.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: oldbaycupcake

                                                Shepards Pie or grilled cheese (she won't even make a grilled cheese)

                                              2. Fried foods. I don't really like frying much, but my husband grew up eating lots of fried foods, so when i really want to make sure he has a delicious meal, i get out the frying pan.

                                                1. The first time my husband took me home to meet his parents his mother had cooked his favorite dinner, creamed chicken in patty shells and sweet potatoes mashed with pineapple and topped with toasted marshmallows. Yuck. But I am still cooking that for him, now 56 years later.