The Kitchen Is Closed, For Now

26 Apr

Letterbalm Rolling PinDear LetterBalm: I don’t know what to do about this. My wife and I have been married six months, and I’ve discovered that she’s the world’s worst cook. I’m not talking an occasional burnt roast. I mean really, really bad to the point of inedible and unsafe food that’s made me nauseous. We’ve had a few dinner parties, and our guests have pushed the food around on their plates so they don’t have to eat it. Her mother is a decent cook and they’re close, so my wife prides herself on her cooking. I’m running out of excuses why I can’t finish my plate, and I haven’t had the heart to level with her. In all other ways, she’s a terrific partner. How can I tell her?

–Pepto-Bismol on Speed Dial

You’ve got two choices: telling your wife about her flagging culinary skills and risking divorce or winding up in the hospital with ptomaine. Forgive the levity – Ms. L.B. assumes you love your wife and she wants to please you. Remember this goodwill when you talk with her. Do some homework first, and rehearse your conversation because you want to be calm, warm and supportive. No judgment. Talk with your wife at home, but not when she’s cooking and not in the kitchen. Sit down, take her hands in yours and speak slowly. This is only the start of a dialogue with her:

Jennifer, I’ve got something to talk to you about, and I need your help because I don’t know how to say it. I know you want me to be honest, but it’s something that might hurt your feelings. Honey, I and others are having a hard time with your cooking. I’m afraid that sometimes meat isn’t cooked enough and food combinations don’t work. I’ve become ill, and I haven’t wanted to tell you. You spend lots of time and effort on your cooking and I appreciate that very much. But we need to address this. I thought you might consider cooking school – I’ve found a couple that aren’t too expensive and offer good classes on developing skills. You have the potential to be a really good cook. I’d be willing to start now to plan some meals with you and help with food shopping on the weekends. Don’t ever forget that I love you. I’m lucky to be married to you, and I know we can work this out.

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