Really? The Way To A Man's Heart - Through The Stomach

Maybe heartburn - Definitely not love
Maybe heartburn - Definitely not love

Unfortunately, you have to get past his gag reflex first.

I need to reveal some truths before getting to the meat (pun intended) of this subject. I really sucked at cooking, baking and even dish washing. I had a highschool friend who prided herself on her domestic skills. She always would remind me of the old adage - "the way to a man's heart was through his stomach". Really? No other way?? I would always reply, "he who does carry out can have my heart."

Please note-my friend, Carol, was not married and lived alone. I, on the other hand, lived at home and was dating rather steadily my future husband. We would be invited for really great dinners at her place. She would also use this time to flirt with Bill, my date. She really did believe she could win a man's heart through the stomach. I was never asked, nor did I ever volunteer to make a dinner for Bill.

I had every opportunity to learn domestic skills. Home Economics was mandatory 7th, 8th, and 9th grade class requirements (for girls only). Classes I never looked forward to and felt this was the systems way of offering vocation training for girls. We were in that era that still believed women should be trained for nursing, teaching, office administration, or household engineers. That's how our counselors advised female students. A lot of the girls in my class married right out of highschool. Or, those who went to college were labeled as MRS majors.

My mother was the June Beaver of our home. She was excellent at all the skills necessary to run a household with great efficiency. She was supportive of my ideas of not being pigeonholed into only a select few vocations as well as very understanding of my disinterest in helping around the house. When my father would order us into the kitchen to help, she would allow us to leave by the backdoor to do other things. She always said she enjoyed doing things for us, and things would work better if she didn't have to listen to the moaning. My sister on the other hand did enjoy spending kitchen time with my mother. I did come to envy the relationship they enjoyed as they cooked, baked and canned. My alone time with my mother was spent shopping and talking about books and dancing. She and I danced to some of her favorite LP's. But, I digress.

Having the right tools a chef does not make
Having the right tools a chef does not make

It's Not Rocket Science or Brain Surgery

The first night in our apartment I tried cooking a meal for us. We had gone to the grocery store together because I knew even less about buying meat. I failed to mention my shopping sprees never included the A&P (grocery store). Although,I knew where the baby food and snack aisles were because when left alone to fend for myself I would eat baby food (only the fruit) and snack foods. Added benefit, no dishes to wash.

No cookbook, but we decided I could do this with instruction. Bill always said, "A person's intelligence is measured by their ability to follow direction." Breaded pork chops, baked potatoes, and a vegetable that's what Bill was going to walk me through. We had purchased prepared shrimp cocktail for an appetizer. After putting the groceries away he started to rearrange the apartment. We had also purchased new curtains and blinds that needed to be hung. My job, prepare my new husband a meal. So, Bill instructed me as follows: "You know to bake the potatoes in the oven; you'll need a skillet to brown the chops and a cookie sheet to finish baking them in the oven; you'll need to dip the chops into beaten eggs with a little milk, flour and bread crumbs; heat oil in the skillet and then add dipped chops, browning on one side then place on the cookie sheet to finish in the oven." The can of peas did not need instructions, I was confident in opening cans. Although, it did take a while to figure out the can opener (it wasn't electric and fitted on top of the can not the side). Breaded pork chops who thought it to be that simple.

So off he went to tackle the windows while I proudly started dinner. About 30- 40 minutes into my preparation of dinner the apartment was a little smokey because the chops were browning on one side but the breading was sticking to the bottom of the skillet. So he had a clue I needed help in the kitchen and was there before I could say "BILL". He didn't laugh or even crack a smile (anyway while in my sight) when he saw what I had done. He apologized for not giving me more detailed instructions (after all he was not about to insult my intelligence). What he didn't specify was three bowls were needed; ONE for the egg mixture, ONE for the flour, and ONE for the breading.

I had to spread the breading on the chops because it was so thick it wasn't dippable (is that even a word), but I didn't ask why, I just kept spreading with a knife and placing them in the extremely hot oil. I had mixed it all together (eggs, milk, flour and breadcrumbs) in one bowl and had a paste that wouldn't stick to the chops. The kitchen was a mess. Grease splattered on the stove, the skillet a burnt mess and meat that wasn't done and now so much smoke the door and windows needed to be opened. He finished cooking the meat (without breading), but it was a little on the tough and dry side from overcooking. I was demoted to peeling the potatoes I had placed in the oven to bake. There was no way they would be done that evening. I had placed them in the dutch oven filled with water in the oven. The water was barely warm. My mother couldn't believe he took the blame and even apologized for the dinner. She was now on his side as she had gotten over all the pre-wedding issues.

My sister began buying me McCall Cookbooks from the grocery store each week after she heard the story of our first dinner in the apartment. She bought a collection of eighteen books. It was a special each week with the purchase of groceries. I still have them. They are now a little worse for wear and a few of the covers are gone, but they do still serve a purpose. I, to this day, still need to follow a recipe when cooking, a WELL WRITTEN, tested recipe.

It's probably a very good thing I had Bill's heart without relying on getting it the round about way of through the stomach. I was not the domestic type and could do more damage in the kitchen than anywhere else. I definitely could make a mess of the kitchen. The kitchen was my nemesis.

That first year of our marriage was a real test for my domestic skills. We would always do the cooking together until I quit my job after Kelly was born. Then he asked if I could please learn to cook a meal by myself since I had more time and cookbooks.

I liked cooking best when we did it together. I liked my life best when we did it together.

Oh, by the way, the shrimp cocktail was delicious and the peas were just right.

Footnote To Carol:

It's really just an old, old adage. The proof lies in pork chops (don't even ask about pudding) and 39 years of marriage.

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Comments 13 comments

Bettyoverstreet10 profile image

Bettyoverstreet10 3 years ago from Vacaville, Ca.

loved the writing, laughed at your mom sending you out the back door. And oh my gosh--you mixed the flour, egg, milk and bread crumbs and ...isn't it fun to look back on the things we had to learn in the early years. And now I am back to learning to cook from all the great recipes here on HP.


sweethearts2 profile image

sweethearts2 4 years ago from Northwest Indiana Author

TToombs08,

Thanks you for stopping by and the vote.


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

What a beautiful story, sweethearts! Loved it and voted up.


sweethearts2 profile image

sweethearts2 4 years ago from Northwest Indiana Author

I not only felt adored, our friends and family were aware of his adoration for his family. If our life together depended on my homemaking skills it would have been a short term marriage. We loved sharing the responsibilities of making a home and raising the children. We complimented each other. Luck brought us together, love kept us together. Thank you for your reflections.


RobinGrosswirth23 profile image

RobinGrosswirth23 4 years ago from New York

I enjoyed your piece very much. It appears that your husband adored you for who you are, not what you could do or not do in the kitchen.

I teach the multiple intelligences (8) and embrace the fact that we all have unique talents, all very different.

We are loved for the "whole person" we are, not any subset and that is key.

It is lovely that you have such touching memories to draw from and that you appear to be a very confident and secure woman. He was a lucky man.


sweethearts2 profile image

sweethearts2 4 years ago from Northwest Indiana Author

Hi rcrumple,

Thanks for the comment and sharing the story of those fun college days. We all have a learning curve (some more than others). If it didn't kill you, I guess it made you a better cook.


sweethearts2 profile image

sweethearts2 4 years ago from Northwest Indiana Author

Mhatter,

Thank you for your comment. I'm sure the dinner was excellent as she apparently had the confidence to prepare it.


sweethearts2 profile image

sweethearts2 4 years ago from Northwest Indiana Author

Robin,

I really like your recipe and spices are optional and as much as suits ones taste. Thank you for the read and lovely compliment.


RobinGrosswirth23 profile image

RobinGrosswirth23 4 years ago from New York

And I always thought that the master resided in the bedroom, ergo, master bed:-)

The real recipe to a man's heart in my opinion is:

1. To be a good listener to his stories, be attentive

2. Give him hero worship

3.Tender love, affection, a good rub on the back and a #$%&^

4. And you can take in a great meal without necessarily cooking one

Of course, I am a modern woman and believe we deserve equal footing too because we are workers and earners as well.

A really delightful read. I look forward to reading more.


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Very good piece. You might be right. In my and my wife's immediate families, my daughter is the first female to do prepare a full dinner. :-)


rcrumple profile image

rcrumple 4 years ago from Kentucky

I loved this and could relate.

In college, I decided to make chili. My aunt had given me a receipe, and it looked fairly simple. However, I noticed that she had left out the elbow macaroni I was used to having in mine, so, I added it on my own. It would've been nice if I'd have cooked it separately first! That chili was so starchy, you'd break a tooth trying to get it off the spoon! I had used up all my cash in buying the ingredients, so for a week, it was my one meal a day. Gotta say, it stuck to my ribs!

Great Hub!


sweethearts2 profile image

sweethearts2 4 years ago from Northwest Indiana Author

Rosemay,

Humor has been a long time coming. Still, some days are tearful and sad but the really good ones are full of memories that make me smile and laugh. And, I'm glad you laughed and not shook your head at my pathetic start as chief cook and bottle washer. I was really that clueless in the kitchen. My mother was embrassed for me and then laughed and shared with the whole family. Just a note - stuffed pork chops are the most requested dinners for my childrens birthday picks. I have a good recipe!


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

I enjoyed this read, had some laughs along the way. You are certainly right the way to a man's heart is definitely not through his stomack.

Happy to follow you and looking forward to reading more humorous hubs like this.

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