I saw two different articles on Wednesday talking about how couples deal with incompatibility between their diets. In some instances, the differences are due to medical reasons, such as an inability to eat gluten. Sometimes, it’s a philosophical difference, such as a vegetarian married to a meat eater (the best example was Bill Niman being married to a vegetarian). Finally, there’s differences in taste, such as when one spouse hates spicy food and the other loves it.
There’s no doubt that couples who are incompatible culinarily can still be quite compatible in their personal lives. Exhibit A: Mrs. Varmint and me. I am an unabashed foodie. I will go out of my way to try new restaurants or to get involved in a different type of food experience (hell, I spent a few hours before dawn yesterday kneading dough at an artisanal bakery — story to come!). I love all kinds of food and frankly, arrogantly don’t understand why some people dislike certain things. And, of course, I love to cook, and I think I do it reasonably well.
Mrs. Varmint is a different gastronomic creature. Oh, she loves to eat good food, but she has her dislikes. Cilantro. Spicy food. Green peppers. Raw onions. Mustard. Pickles. Olives. Coconut. Oh, and red meat! No beef, pork, lamb, and definitely no sausage or cured meats. She abhors to cook, and frankly, neither of us want to eat her cooking, either. Mrs. Varmint very much enjoys going out to dinner, but she often says, “Why do I want to spend that much money at a restaurant when my husband can do better at home for a lot less money?” (Note: she understands that there are a number of restaurants where they produce food that is far tastier than mine. She also knows that I like to go out, and so, well, why not join me! OK, she does really like to go out, too.)
And so, when I cook for my wife, I don’t push the envelope too far. I know what she likes, and I work from that palette. But she still gives me lots of room to experiment, even if I throw in items that aren’t her favorites (last night’s roasted brussel sprouts, for example).
Although I have bitched and moaned about our culinary differences, I wouldn’t really have it any other way. It’s who we are as a couple. Sure, it may be true that a couple who cooks together stays together, but it may be equally true that a couple who doesn’t cook together has realized that one of them can’t cook — and that’s a good thing.
One of my children at a very tender age was asked what his parents do, and responded, “My mommy is a doctor and my daddy is a cooker.” I’ve always loved that statement. I’m a cooker. And you know what? I know better than anyone else in the world how to get my wife truly excited by food. And that’s what love is all about.