It’s Valentines Day, her birthday, Mother’s Day, or your Anniversary coming up, and you’re thinking about cooking her a special dinner. Something she’d really like. Romance on the menu. And you’re smart enough to figure pancakes or BBQ aren’t going to cut it. In fact, you’ve spent hours on the net looking for advice and ideas. And you haven’t got it sorted out yet.
We’ve all found ourselves in this situation. Usually the night before.
You could take her out, that’s always an option. If you can line up the sitter. Hopefully the neighbor girl is free last minute, and not still dating the dude who was real interested in what you like to drink when you’re home. If you take your wife someplace nice, you should probably let her know so she can get dressed. But then, that would ruin the surprise. And, will she want to go out? Should you ask her? Or would she really appreciate you going that extra mile, putting your heart and soul into making her a meal to remember with your own two hands?
This will fly in the face of conventional romantic thinking, and upset both my fans, but if you decide to DIY, here’s my expert advice. Don’t.
I know you’re thinking, ‘Dad, WTF, that right there is a bait and switch blog post, now what am I supposed to do?’ Stay with me, and let me explain. Your solution is right here, and it’s a keeper. Let’s put down the Cosmo girl glasses and think this through like guys.
First off, I am firmly dedicated to the notion of men claiming a place in the kitchen. And no matter how many thumbs we have, I believe any man can do a reasonable job of cooking, with the right information and attitude. And a whole lot better, with just a little effort.
But unless your friends and strangers call you chef before your last name, there’s a good chance that whatever you make for your sweetheart is going to be long on sentimental and short of what she’d consider a gourmet experience. I’m just telling you the facts.
Most really fine meals take one or two practice fixings to get right, for anybody but the pros. And you’ve never even seen the recipe before this afternoon. If she’s half the woman you think she is she’ll ooh and aah when you put it in front of her, but in the back of her mind – she can’t help it, it’s her domain – she’ll be thinking how she’d have done it, and likely, done it better.
Let me put it this way. What would be going through your mind if for Father’s Day the missus personally customized your car, or made you a new wall-to-wall built-in tool rack in the garage?
Next, and this may come as a shock, she likely is not living with you primarily because of your culinary skills. For reasons we will never fathom, there’s something about you she likes, and likes to be with. She enjoys your attention. A lot. And the longer you spend in the kitchen doing she knows not what, the less of that attention she is getting. You may be cooking your way through five whole courses of dinner surprise, but she’s out on the couch on her special day flipping for hours through old magazines, privately fuming, or minding the kids so you can do your best Alton Brown impersonation. Now there’s a recipe for happiness.
And you know she’s wondering the entire time, whether you’re going to settle back when dinner’s done in front of the TV and leave the tornado-meets-trailer-park mess you just made in the kitchen sit. Or worse, expect her to just clean it up in gratitude. Admit it, that thought had crossed your mind.
So, what should you do?
Instead of taking her out, or trashing the kitchen, here’s the plan.
Find a really nice restaurant with great food. Pick out a wonderful meal from the menu. Then take out or have them deliver it. You set the place or table, flowers, wine. And then, out of sight in the kitchen, unpack and plate a real gourmet treat, and bring it out for her dining pleasure.
Not only will she be completely surprised by what she sees, she’ll wonder for just a split second whether you cooked it yourself. And if you have half a brain, you’ll tell her you would have, but you thought it was better to spend the time with her instead of fussing in the kitchen.
Then, you tell her the special dinner you’ll be cooking is the three meals for the family this coming week that she won’t have to. Those are the dinners she’ll REALLY appreciate you making.
So, you’ve now fixed her a special dinner, with no cooking disasters or mess in the kitchen, you’ve (hopefully) spent the time giving her some proper attention, and you eat like royalty, with no clean up. Plus, you’re giving her three meals she won’t have to cook when it counts, during the week.
You’ve also dodged that special dinner bullet, having to come up with and pull off cooking a big deal meal last minute with the pressure on.
My wife still talks about the first time I did this for her, ten years later. And she can’t remember a single one of those special dinners I cooked for her myself. I’m sure that’s because all the gourmet treats I’ve whipped up have just become rolled into one long happy memory.
Let me know how this works out for you, or if you’re still bound and determined to show off, drop by my website for some meal ideas.