I’ve followed the Dinner: A Love Story (the blog) for a while now (ever since I discovered their perfect chicken and rice recipe), so I was thrilled when I stumbled upon the chance to borrow Dinner: A Love Story (the book) from a friend right before we went on a big road trip. Over the course of the past week, I devoured it cover-to-cover like a novel. I’ll definitely be getting my own copy, and I highly recommend that you do, too: it’s three great reads in one: entertaining memoir, mealtime tips and inspiration, and lots of promising recipes. But one section stood out to me as particularly commonplace-worthy because it has applications far outside of mealtime prep and kitchen duties.
About midway through, Rosenstrach gives some tips on ways that a non-cooking spouse can support a spouse who bears the primary load of meal preparation. They’re worth mentioning: 1) Make a decision (help with meal planning), 2) Get home on time, 3) Clean-up duty, 4) Praise the pork loin, 5) Take control of the heart sinkers, and 6) Master one meal.
You could probably turn all six of these into metaphors, but Number Five stood out to me especially as perhaps the second-best piece of marriage advice I’ve heard:
By this I mean, take care of all the things in the kitchen that routinely make the Cook’s heart sink: discovering the dishes in the dishwasher are clean but unloaded, realizing just as you sit down to dinner that no one has anything to drink or that the soy sauce/ketchup/napkins are not on the table. I think the best birthday present anyone could ever give me would be a little robot that automatically took care of all these duties, none of which individually take up a lot of time but which collectively can send you spiraling into dark places.
So you have a spouse (child, friend) who has an especially difficult or draining load to bear. It’s usually not practical or possible to remove that responsibility completely. But are there any heart-sinkers you can help remove from his or her day? Maybe you can fill up the car with gas so it’s not one more thing to think about on the way to work. Bathe the kids so the pregnant wife doesn’t have to bend over the tub at the end of a long day. Prep the coffee pot before you go to bed so that the early riser doesn’t have to grind the beans in the wee hours of the morning. Bite your tongue so that a list of complaints is not the first thing that greets him when he gets home from work. (Not all of these are heart-sinkers for everyone; you might have to ask what gestures would be most appreciated.)
So many possibilities, so much food for thought.
(Alongside recipes for so much delicious food for tummies…seriously, check out this book.)