I knew I lived in the post-dating world when a guy I liked (at the time, he was the Boyfriend Prospect in my dah) invited me to a barbecue at his apartment…and then texted me telling me to bring my own meat… That’s right! The text message said:
Hey so gun for being ere by 7 or so tomorrow. We’ll have a little bit of food but not enough to sustain the masses so I’d suggest bringing something you’d like to grill
I was mortified. It felt like chivalry was really, truly dead – along with basic hospitality. I questioned whether he was really interested in me or not. I’d figured I was going on a group-non-date, but maybe this barbecue wasn’t going to be a non-date at all? Let alone a date? Some of my friends thought I was crazy for being upset – after all, shouldn’t I embrace the ambiguity and bring some really interesting, cool, reflective-of-my-personality kind of meat (pork butt?). I saw their point, but I felt even more confused since I had reacted so strongly the other way. All together now: WTF?!?!?!
Cut to present day. I was propelled on this trip down memory lane as I was reading IN THE SMALL KITCHEN: 100 RECIPES FROM OUR YEAR OF COOKING IN THE REAL WORLD by Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine – a cookbook + memoir that is a glorious counterpart to and refutation of that eternally distressing “bring your own meat” text message (which keeps cropping up at various times and in various forms from guys in my dah).
So let’s talk about these girls, their love lives, and their food… (read more)
IN THE SMALL KITCHEN (which is based on Cara & Phoebe’s blog, Big Girls Small Kitchen) is a strikingly beautiful book, with a multitude of full-page, mouthwatering pictures of the girls’ recipes, as well as glamour shots of the girls themselves, hard at work cooking or frolicking inside and out of their own small kitchens. The book lays flat when you open it, and the paper stock is thick and luxurious, which makes me think it will withstand the spills and crumples which will inevitably occur as I explore it in my own (not small, but rather underused – until now!) kitchen.
When I first held and flipped through it, I immediately thought IN THE SMALL KITCHEN felt like a cookbook for Millennials – ambitious, striving and glossy, but also practical and hands-on – with a dash (or seven) of whimsy on every page. The girls bill themselves as quarter-life chefs, so the presentation makes sense. I like it.
The WTF?! girls have been fortunate enough to have attended many dinner parties hosted by the inimitable, young-NYC-hostess-with-the-mostess Wendy Wecksell, where co-author Phoebe has cooked from the book and blog (our fave is the beer beef stew!) So, I can vouch for the quality of Cara & Phoebe’s recipes, and at Phoebe’s urging, I remain optimistic about my ability to reproduce them now that I own the book. (Yumm.)
But here’s the real reason I’m so into these girls and this book – and so not into the guys who send *that* text message. Cooking – the way Cara & Phoebe see it – takes care and passion. Cooking for a boy is an opportunity to show affection and understanding – whether for the first time (the book includes essays about those special firsts for each of the girls), or for a lifetime (witness: Phoebe’s mom). These girls aren’t cooking to impress; that’s why they recommend staying away from “trying-too-hard” culinary dishes like seared tuna when entertaining a romantic prospect.
Instead, these girls are cooking to add fun and richness to the experience of life and falling in love. No tricks or guile. No pretension. None of the self-protective, careless apathy so present in those texts that haunt me. The message of this book is – just go for it! Make what you like – and what you think will make the other person happy. The guy who “gets it” (and/or is willing to come over for dinner when your roommate has swine flu) is the keeper. But until you find him, keep on cooking for your dates, lovers, friends, bosses and non-dates. Enjoy it, and learn from it. This is pro-active Millennialism at its best.
So, I’m inspired. Next time a guy tells me to bring my own meat to our non-non-non-date, at least I’ll know how to grill it up (with mint raita) for the both of us.
Order your copy of IN THE SMALL KITCHEN
Check out BIG GIRLS SMALL KITCHEN online
More WTF?! on Cooking
Rebecca Coale - aka Becky - is a writer, musician and producer. She and childhood best friend Jessica Donalds created Dating & Hookup and founded J&R Creative Media. Becky blogs about love poetry and modern life & womanhood. She lives with her husband, Howard Coale, and their family in Manhattan and Philadelphia.
datingandhookup.com is a website that explores modern romance in the Millennial era – which, let’s be honest, looks nothing like we were taught to expect. We feature essays, advice and social commentary with humor, compassion and brains, and we vow never, ever to publish a piece called “The 10 Best Ways to Satisfy Your Man in Bed”. Do click to submit your work to us. We love you.
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