The surprising thing I've found in my recent experiment with internet dating -- (besides the fact that practically every available man in Staten Island, Northern New Jersey, and Western Long Island, but few in New York City, where I live, wants to date me) -- is how many men wish to cook for me, or some me equivalent. This coldly modern landscape evokes a 1950s kind of nostalgia, only in reverse. A slew of people want to let potential mates know how accomplished they are in the kitchen, how much they enjoy cooking, and how many cookbooks they have on their nightstands, only in 2008 the majority of these Suzy Homemakers are men.
A 41 year-old from Brooklyn "spends hours cooking dinner," another 43-year-old "likes Sunday nights cooking at home." A 35-year-old from Brooklyn tells us women that he "loves to cook and if it's for someone I am falling in love with; that's hot." A divorced father describes himself as "a great cook" whose number one fun thing to do is "cooking with friends." A Paris born New Yorker lists "Grilling, cooking, baking and, of course, eating;" at least he lists the most traditionally masculine form of home-cooking first. "A generous brisket roasts slowly in my oven, the warm scent of tomatoes, caramelized onions and red wine wafting through my small, West Village apartment." All this is going on while one romantic-hopeful composes his profile.
To make my decidedly unscientific survey take on a national perspective, I took a peek at D.C. and found that the number one reason why I might want to meet one male resident of our nation's capital is because he makes "exceptional tabouleh." Perhaps that's how he's demonstrating his hope for peace in the Middle East.
Where does all this leave me, I wonder? I like to be the cook in my relationships. When I'm not slaving over the stove for some boyfriend or other I'm not sure what I have to offer. (This is an issue I'm looking into with a slew of professionals.) My last boyfriend, (now far out of life, I believe as far away as the Czech Republic), was as accomplished a cook as I, but I wouldn't let him do more than chop an onion or a clove of garlic, until our relationship began to deteriorate and it was the only hope I had of getting something out of him when I was getting very little. By then it was too late.
So, maybe I should hang up my apron and check out at some of these Mario Batali and Alton Brown wannabes. It will be a challenge, like putting myself online in the first place. But perhaps in a similar way, it could turn out to be a lot of fun. Here I go:
Dear Mr. Brisket,
I would like to be the Dick van Dyke to your Mary Tyler Moore . . .