I love to cook, and my strong desire to try new recipes combined with the fact that I work from home has made me the primary preparer of food in our house. But this doesn't mean my significant other shies away from the stove. In fact, given the chance, he loves to roll up his sleeves in the kitchen, which makes me a pretty lucky lady. But being the control freak that I am, it's taken me a while to be able to appreciate the fact that he can – and will – help out when it comes to cooking dinner.
See, I like to have everything "just so" in the kitchen. I have a plan and a vision and if you come along asking if you can add this or stir that, it just messes things up! Many a fight was started in the kitchen before I learned to enjoy the help and camaraderie behind the counter.
To get a better sense of some of the benefits of both parties cooking, I spoke with Vanessa Yeung, chef and partner at Aphrodite Cooks, a cooking school that offers both singles and couples cooking classes.
My boyfriend isn't alone in his culinary capabilities, but there is still a divide between men who cook and those who don't. According to the recent American Times Use Survey, on an average day, 40 percent of men do food preparation or cleanup, compared with 68 percent of women. If your partner doesn't contribute to the cooking, Yeung suggests that rather than tossing him a cookbook and hoping he doesn't burn the house down, get him to help out in smaller doses (chopping, stirring, washing dishes) instead of expecting him to prepare a multi-course meal. "Couples should share kitchen duties, even if only one person cooks," she says. "That's what my husband and I do."
Cooking together brings you closer as a couple, Yeung explains, adding "it's very sensual to cook together." A lot of passion gets created in the kitchen because food and eating can consume all of your senses. It's very beneficial to at least be able to share in the experience. Even if you both aren't cooking, be in the kitchen together rather than one person cooking and the other watching TV, she suggests.
Yeung has noticed a shift in who has been booking cooking classes and says lately it's often men who are calling to reserve a spot. She says, "A lot more men want to learn tips and tricks in the kitchen. We are slowly seeing the balance even out, and I'm seeing more and more men interested in cooking." She might be on to something. According to the AskMen Great Male Survey of 2010, 64 percent of respondents said they cook – and they enjoy it. 29 percent said they would even win a cooking competition with their significant other. Bring it on!
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