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May 20, 2011 12:52 PM

"Romantic" yet ironic home-cooked meals: Any good stories?

Time: 1983
Place: State college dorm
Players: Two college students, one sophomore girl, one freshman boy.

We were SO in love. He was older, though I was further along academically. He was as worldly as an 18-year old artist from Connecticut could be. He said he wanted to make our first Valentine's Day together really special and would cook a delicious, unique meal for me. Fabulous!

He went shopping on his own and rented out the communal dorm kitchen for the night. He wouldn't tell me anything about it except that it was unusual and delicious. I was so excited! I was finally summoned to the kitchen and he served his miraculous meal: A ramen-noodle "pancake" covered with chopped Birdseye mixed vegetables. "Oh, how wonderful!" I exclaimed. Yeah, it was kind of gross, the noodles rubbery and the veggies mushy beyond comprehension, but it was made with love. I loved him even more for doing that! Such effort! Such dedication! What an amazing guy! I flew high on that love for another year and a half until we broke up.

Fast forward several years later:

Time: 1987
Place: A Washington Heights apartment
Players: A first-year grad student and an actor/waiter in his 30s

We had just started dating. He was about 10 years older than me, so in my eyes he was BEYOND worldly. He had appeared in actual films with famous people! Heck, he was even RELATED to famous people! He had been on Canadian TV! He had an apartment in NYC! Wow, what a cool guy!

He said he wanted to make dinner for me at his apartment. He had a "special" recipe that was so original, I wouldn't believe it. How exciting! I took the train from my assistantship in Washington Square and got to his apartment before he did (really kind of gross and dingy, but he was broke, so that was okay). He was late getting there and held his grocery bag close to his chest. Wow, what kind of culinary masterpiece was he planning? "May I come into the kitchen?" "NO!" "Can't you give me a hint?" "NO!" "Okay, Okay." I waited patiently for an hour alone in his living room.

Finally, he was ready. He carried the plate into the living room (no dining table) and presented it to me. Wow, it was...exactly the same noodle pancake and Birdseye mixed vegetable dish my old boyfriend made for me. "Oh, how...nice!" "See, I told you it was special! You've never seen anything like that before, have you?" "No, no, of course not!"

One more date and I was done. Sorry, Ross, wherever you are.

Of course, I never told you about the time my husband made me some Thai fried chicken with deep-fried plastic wrap. At least that was genuinely unique! Inedible, but unique!

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  1. LOVE THE POST. Am looking forward to other people's experiences. For me...the first thing I was served by a b-friend (now husband) was BBQ'd chicken "jerky". It was SO burnt, and over-cooked that I literally choked on the 1st mouthful. I had to run to the bathroom to catch my breath! It was devoid of any sort of juiciness PERIOD! TG in 19 years he has come far in his grill skills.

    1 Reply
    1. re: letsindulge

      Thanks for the kind words, letsindulge!

      You were a brave woman to have tried that BBQ chicken "jerky." I'm glad he's improved his grill skills over the years. Thank goodness it wasn't BBQ chicken sashimi!

    2. When my now-husband and I had first started dating, he wanted to take me out for a birthday meal and asked me what I'd like, and I asked for soul food. I wanted fried chicken, and greens, and rice and gravy and and and. Plus biscuits. Now, the man does know his way around a kitchen, so to this day I think it was just unfamiliarity with these particular foods and the timeframe involved - (Mr. does not fry or bake, etc.) So, he decided upon a labor of love, and he set out to make me the finest meal ever. Um, so he did make a meal. And it was not the finest ever. I found out that it is possible to serve up a gorgeously-crusted fried chicken that was raw in the middle while appearing perfect. I found out that, while I do not require that my gravy be perfectly lump-free, I dislike gravy that is actually gravy-free what with all the lumps. At any rate, in addition to these discoveries, I also sussed out that this fella really, really liked me. And I married him. And now I make the soul food, and he sticks to what he knows best, which is grilling and being a good host.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mamachef

        OMG, I laughed so hard I spat out my bagel.

        1. re: foodiemom10583

          I really, REALLY like this post. Thanks!

      2. We had been dating a couple weeks, and one night he called and said "why don't you come over and I'll make tacos? I'm famous for my tacos!" Okay, I went over about a half hour later and he was slicing up salami and putting mustard into a dipping cup. "I realized I would have to go out and buy everything, so I know you like this and are probably too hungry to wait for me to make tacos." He did make tacos eventually, they were the best and we've been married for a year and a half now.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mtngirlnv

          Thank goodness he didn't say, "Why don't you come over and I'll give you some salami!" ;)

          Congratulations, by the way!

        2. My bf/fiance/now husband can't cook, period. He was never taught and doesn't really have a desire to learn.
          I remember the one time during the first year of our marriage that I came home from work and he got off early and decided that he would cook dinner for me while I got to sit on the couch and watch some tv and relax. Cool right? It was a simple meal baked (pre)marinated chicken breasts, frozen veg with butter and garlic salt, and a box package of long grain wild rice (w/directions on the box) 5 mins into the process- "Honey what temp do you set the oven at?" "How do you now when the oven is preheated?" "Do I need to start the rice now?" "How long should the chicken be cooked for?" "How do you know the veg is done?" after all that I just got up and cooked the dinner. Poor guy good intentions no know how.

          Fast Forward 3 yrs.
          I'm working night shift and attend evening fitness classes. I asked him to preheat the oven and throw in some pre-made freezer crab cakes and pilsbury bread sticks at 8 so that when I came home at 9 things would be ready for me so I could shower and go to work right after. He has gotten much better over the years and can handle making frozen package food. Again good intentions no kitchen common sense. I came home to under done cakes and almost burnt pilsbury french bread that was still raw in the middle(yes even when I clearly asked him to make the bread sticks). I ate cereal while he choked down what he made. It was hilarious and the poor guy was so embarrassed, I wasn't too hard on him, I was just like "I love you babe, but I'm having cereal (while trying not to snicker!)"

          However now that he has me working on cars and riding motorcycles and after some marriage counseling a while back we are taking more of an interest in each others hobbies and mine is cooking, so I have had him in the kitchen more often to learn now than in the past. I think he could handle cooking dinner now ;)

          1 Reply
          1. re: BelovedofIsis

            Wow, this is sitcom material! I'm glad he's spending more time in the kitchen.

          2. The first date with my now-husband was to be at Ruth's Chris, but I had a hair appt. and I asked him if we could re-schedule. (Hopefully lady 'hounds will understand what I was thinking!) Anyway, he says sure, he'll call, and then doesn't. So I call him and ask him if he would like to come over for a home-cooked meal. He can't say "yes" fast enough. So I make my favorite meal: Roast chicken, cucumber salad, corn on the cob, and mashed potatoes. He comes over, and we drink a number of beers while the chicken is cooking. I am STARVED, I hadn't eaten anything all day, what with nerves and getting everything ready, so I am really looking forward to this meal. I serve it, he eats the salad, and maybe two bites of everything else. Now I know how to cook, so I can't figure out what's wrong, I mean the food was pretty basic. Well, I didn't want to look like glutton, so I didn't eat much either. Put the food away, proceeded to drink more, thank goodness he finally went to the bathroom. I hit the fridge so fast, and ate as much as I could before he came out. I'm still wondering why he didn't eat. Then I think, he has such nice teeth, maybe they're false, that might explain the corn, but that's all I could think of. Anyway, after a few more dates, I ask him what was wrong with the food. So he confesses that (A) he doesn't like chicken on the bone or with skin or dark meat, (B) even though he ate the cucumbers, they upset his stomach badly, (C) doesn't like corn ON the cob, wants it cut off, and (D) doesn't like mashed potatoes, it's a texture thing. I still can't believe I married him ;-). P.S. I have changed a lot of his "dislikes" by preparing them properly, as opposed to his experiences with poorly prepared food while growing up.