I know there are couples who enjoy cooking together and make it look like a well-rehearsed ballet. They savor the aroma of their secret recipe for wild salmon over lemon couscous, stir each other’s soups and sample each other’s sauces. Their skills are complementary -- one cuts and cleans, while the other sautes and bastes. These couples can’t wait to be in the kitchen together.
Sue and I are not one of those couples. When we are both in the kitchen, we bump into each other. We are forever reaching for the same knife, the same pan or the same spice at the same time. I shut the refrigerator door at the moment she wants to open it; I use the burner on the stove for my omelet when she wants to use it for her tea. She thinks I am in her kitchen; I think she is in mine.
I love curry. The smell alone makes her sick. I love bell peppers; she’s allergic to them. I love to experiment and have never cooked anything the same way twice. If it’s in the house, it’s in the pan. I think recipes are a guideline; she thinks they are dogma.
I have stolen magazines from the doctor’s office if they have recipes for things I might like. Hey, don’t judge me. And don’t tell me I’m the only one who does that.
Sue, of course, would never do that. Her recipes sit in a well-worn box, yellowed with age and handed down from her mother and grandmother and earlier generations. All you have to do is translate a few words, like “gill,” “churn” and “sweetmeats,” from medieval to modern English, and most of the recipes still work today. It’s like eating in Colonial Williamsburg every night. Dress up for dinner and wear your best buckled shoes.