In a lot of ways, Dave doesn’t exactly pull his weight around here. We don’t split the rent down the middle (since one of us is, um, pulling in negative income.) We don’t really split the housework down the middle, to my everlasting annoyance (his disinterest in cleaning the bathroom is getting to the point where we might have to post a chore chart on the fridge.) And when it comes to the kitchen, I cook almost all of our meals.
That last discrepancy actually doesn’t bother me that much, though. After all, I actually enjoy cooking, and I can be a little bit of a control freak in the kitchen, in a way that’s been known to isolate my sous chefs. Plus, if I cook, Dave does the dishes (eventually.)
Most importantly, perhaps, there’s this: when I cook, Dave is contractually obligated to like every single thing I make.
I’m not sure how exactly we came to this unspoken agreement, but it’s been in effect since the very first time I prepared a meal for him. It doesn’t matter what I mess up – and believe me, I’ve done some terrible things to some quality ingredients – that kid will eat it, and then, without fail, laud it.
That key lime coconut cake I made upon his arrival from California, the one where I burned the coconut not once, not twice, but three freaking times? He loved it. The pasta with the kale and the swiss chard, prepared before I had really figured out how to properly clean kale and swiss chard? He had three (gritty) helpings.
I’ve gotten so used to his undying affection for my food preparation, in fact, that I’ve kind of forgotten what it’s like to have an impartial party involved.
Enter Matty, our temporary roommate.
Tonight, I whipped up a batch of pumpkin bread pudding for the three of us. It’s an easy and delicious dessert that I totally believe in, as evidenced by the fact that I had three bowls (plus a few extra bites swiped surreptitiously from the edges.) Dave had seconds and was quick to inform me of the dish’s culinary merits.
But Matty quickly deposited his bowl in the dishwasher after the first helping, with nary a comment.
This always-congratulated cook was confused.
“How was it?” I pressed him, ready for praise.
“It was…OK,” he said. And that was it.
I started thinking back over the past few days’ meals. Monday night’s dinner: Dave blatantly ignored my warnings that the asparagus was hideously over-cooked, while Matty avoided it like the plague. Friday night’s (would-be) dinner: Matty presented tipsy Rachel with a glass of water and suggested it might be best if she just skipped cooking, after which he indulged in a cheeseburger at a bar.
It appears as though the only people who actually like my cooking are those who will suffer greatly if they express dissonance. My kitchen is less Ina Garten, more Adolph Hitler.
And to think, I really just thought Matty was bringing home all that wine and cheese to be nice.