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Tandem Cooking 
by Cameron Walker |
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So, you've got a date.  But there’s a problem.  You just can’t afford to take them out somewhere impressive.  And besides, of the restaurants around you, Emil Villa's Hickory Pit is the shining example.  Or maybe you’ve got a friend in town —a mom, a dad, a relative whose aversion to the Hickory Pit makes her skin erupt in hives.  Clearly, you’ve got just one option: throw away the frozen pizza boxes, wipe down the counters, and try to cook.  And, if you don't want your third cousin to sit there looking through those embarrassing pictures of you in your gawky adolescence, or if you want to see how cute the guy who you’ve heretofore only seen in sweater-vests looks in an apron, your best plan is to get your dinner companion to cook with you.

Cooking, for me, has been a learning experience.  My mother professes to have microwaved everything I ate as a child--untrue, as each time I drive home, I look forward to her pasta primavera with just the right amount of olive oil, but you get the point.  I don't come into the kitchen with a rich history of relatives hovering around the stove, adding spices with flair and scolding each other with ladles.  But after my boyfriend and I realized that we couldn't afford to go out for every meal -- when those bills arrived after that first whirlwind month -- we embarked on a new stage in our relationship: learning to cook together in our small kitchens. 

At first, we were terrible.  OK, I was terrible.  Elbow-room was non-existent, we owned only one good knife, and on top of it all, had to cope with roommates who had an unnatural obsession with kale smoothies (although I think any relationship with kale is unnatural).   Luckily, he dropped my first attempt, a golden rice casserole, in the sink before it could be consumed.  But slowly, we began to find a way to share the space, share the knife, and make an edible meal while having a good time (and a few glasses of something with a slight kick).  What helped most was a good pattern of task delegation, which saved time as well as egos. 

Learning how to cook together is good for any relationship.  First, you learn all sorts of things about a person's childhood memories and family traditions.  Chris' mom, for instance, puts the plates in the oven while she's cooking so that they're hot for dinner.  They each had their own napkin ring.  In my house, on the other hand, we had paper napkins with flowers that I colored in by hand.  All the smells of the kitchen seem to bring up stories of holidays, special meals, and crazy Uncle Earl. 

this way please ...


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