Why He Loves Your Cooking — Even If It's Bad

t was late at night, I hadn't eaten dinner, and Sophia (I've changed names) was making me a grilled cheese. Her first attempt set off the smoke alarm, which probably annoyed the neighbors even more than it amused me. Her second attempt came out only slightly less incinerated. Before she could throw it away, however, I took a bite…and it was terrific. Okay, the molten cheese inflicted third-degree tongue burns — but what mattered was, she'd cooked it. For me.

Like Ma Used to Make

Yes, cooking for a guy fulfills a basic human need. But it also triggers conscious and subconscious feelings about being cared for when he was a kid.

My grandmother made the best apple pie I've ever had. The crust was flaky, the filling was flavorful, and she cut huge grandma-size slices. It was so good that, after she died, I resolved to never eat apple pie again.

Until, that is, Robin made one for Thanksgiving after obtaining my grandmother's recipe. Robin wasn't competing with my childhood memories; she was trying to help me relive them. And she did…sort of. To be honest, the crust tasted like stale bread, and the filling had a consistency reminiscent of jellied bubble gum. Robin was horrified, but I was delighted. Because she'd been brave enough to make it for me, I now remember that pie as fondly as any of my grandmother's.

Recipe for Love

Of course, being a good cook is a nice bonus. It's not only impressive — especially if, like me, the guy is totally inept when he's making anything more complex than a frozen burrito — but it can also inspire him to cook.

Peg's kitchen had about 2 square feet of counter space and what looked like an Easy-Bake Oven. Yet she regularly cooked us delicious meals. Once, when she was making enchiladas, I agreed to make guacamole. True to form, I accidentally doubled the amount of salt and bought peppers so hot, I suspect they were illegal…in Mexico. Peg kindly complimented the guac (as tears streamed down her face), and her enchiladas were, naturally, the best I'd ever had.

But the most amazing thing she made for me was cereal. Even though she took the time to sprinkle it with flax meal — it's healthy or something — anyone could have prepared it without difficulty. Yet Peg's cereal surpassed all other cereal. Why? It reminded me that she loved me, and it did so in a way that didn't set off my male anti-emotion alarms. And all she needed was Cheerios.

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