A Better Life through Guys in the Kitchen

My 'guy' in the kitchen

My 'guy' in the kitchen

This year, just to prove we were a 90’s type couple, my husband took a leave of absence from work – a quality of life type of thing. He made me a lot of promises in connection with this. He would do All THE COOKING, cleaning, shopping, figure out our tangled finances, clean both the upstairs and downstairs ‘closets of no return’, clean the basement, AND fix the doorbell! He also promised that he would keep a firm hand on the kids. No longer would my oldest be permitted to torture innocent vegetables in the blender. There would be no more mid-night jousting in the backyard. No one would be allowed to light fires in the toilet for the purpose of cleaning it. It would be the reign of DAD, and we could look forward to a quieter and saner new year. We would have a better life.

So, I was a little bit surprised when, on his first day home, about 10 kids trouped into the house carrying several varieties of juggling equipment. “We had heard he took a 3 month leave of absence to perfect his juggling” they said. “Way to go, Dude! We’re going to declare it a Plorph!anian National Holiday! The juggler is free day!” (Plorph is a publication, indigenous to Foxboro, that is created and distributed by teenagers, and is slightly less comprehensible than Zippy.)

But back to Guys in the Kitchen. Apart from improving his juggling, the second significant task my husband has accomplished is bonding with his sons in the kitchen. I have observed guys in the kitchen for a while, and I’ve noticed something. They’re different.

Almost every women knows the outdoor grilling drill. The guy says “Honey, guess what, I’m going to cook tonight. I’ll grill!”. You say “Oh that’s wonderful, honey!” and run to the store. You buy charcoal, liter fluid, steaks, and beer. You go home, cook beans or rice, make a salad, marinate the steaks, put the beer on ice, carry the charcoal and lighter fluid out to the deck, and say “Everything’s ready dear.”

Then its the husband’s show. He LIGHTS THE FIRE, and inspects it, concentrates on adjusting the controls, and looks at it from every angle.

You get the steaks, bring out the spatula and forks. He carefully places the steaks on the grill. Then he sort of stalks them, pacing from side to side. He pokes them a bit, carefully, rocks back on his heels, looks at them again, frowns a little, pokes them again, turns them over, fiddles with the controls, and nods. You stand by on the deck admiring this. (A couple of cold ones does make this part go down easier.)

He looks solemn, and nods (half an hour later). “THE STEAKS ARE READY” he pronounces. You run back to the kitchen, get a clean plate for the steaks, finish setting the table, call the kids, and thank your husband for cooking supper.

You’ve got to understand, with guys, its not just cooking. Its the flair, the presentation, the pursuit of excellence. Its not just getting a meal to the table, its getting the talk and the walk, too.

A guy in the kitchen always has to have All the ingredients. If a recipe calls for lemon-grass, they won’t just say, “Hey, lets add extra salt”. They will find the lemon-grass. They’ll harness the power of the Internet, look through the yellow pages, and as a last resort ASK FRIENDS FOR DIRECTION. Second, they need machinery. Big complex machinery, with sharp moving parts, interesting noises, and complex control panels.

So, I watched with interest, as my husband taught his son and son’s friend how to cook fruit “fruit leather” (which is a fruit rollup, like you would find in the supermarket, done the hard way). To do this, you need a blender to pulverize strawberries, or some other fruit. (“Its only fruit I’m torturing”, Mom, “not a vegetable!” my son declared.) Then you pour it into the dehydrator, and turn it on for several hours.

So I watched the three of them cook. They all stood around the kitchen. They eyed the pulverized strawberries. They discussed it, noting its viscosity, and color, and resemblance to body fluids. Then poured it out carefully into the dehydrator. They all stood back, rocking on their heels, and studied the fluid from side to side. They poked at it with implements. They frowned. They nodded. Finally, they carefully placed the cover of the dehydrator. They sighed and grunted with satisfaction, and went back to their juggling. The walk and talk was there.

My husband caught my eye. “Isn’t this a better life?”

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