Sunday, July 11, 2010

#58 Fake Cooking

Do you remember that scene in Mrs. Doubtfire where Robin Williams (as Mrs. Doubtfire) attempted to make dinner for the kids before his ex-wife came home but ended up catching his "boobs" on fire?  Rather than salvage the botched meal, he ordered take-out from somewhere fancy, plated it and pretended like he made it himself. (Note to self: candlesticks at the dining table add to the integrity of the meal.)  I didn't know it at that time when I was watching this epic film, but what Mrs. Doubtfire did was purely standard for any single "girl."  (Also, Pierce Brosnan makes a hot stepdad.)

Single girls don't necessarily enjoy cooking and it's NOT because we don't know how to cook.  On the contrary, following a recipe is not exactly rocket science and we do know our teaspoons (tsp) from our tablespoons (tbsp).  It's just very difficult to cook for ONE PERSON without running the risk of overeating extra portions or having to purchase an entire container of nutmeg (when we really just need a pinch) that we would probably never use again.

Also, do you know how TIME CONSUMING cooking is?  I don't know how they do it on Top Chef, but I cannot dice vegetables that fast.  I'm convinced it's not human.  Also, boiling water or waiting for the oven to preheat takes, like, FOREVER.

What single girls do like is take-out.  Chinese, Thai, Lebanese, Mexican, pizza - there are SO many options!  And single girls like options!  Not only that, it's convenient, fast and reliably tasty.  Home cooking?  NOT so reliably tasty.  In fact, the outcome of cooking from scratch is often a surprise for us.  A bad one.  

So what happens when a single girl gets to that point past the mythical third date and we actually offer to cook for someone?  Statistically speaking, girls who prepare a home-cooked meal for guys have a 99% chance of getting laid.  Squeal, no?

There is a slight dilemma.  How does a girl with nary a culinary background (because heating Bagel Bites in a toaster oven does not count) create a meal satisfying enough for a guy to take his pants off in the bedroom and not racing to take his pants off in the bathroom?  And how do we create this meal with the limited time we have when our real priorities include making both ourselves and our living space presentable for our guest? 

Two solutions:

1) Fake cooking à la Mrs. Doubtfire.
Single girls quite familiar with the best delivery services in our neighborhoods can make a quick call (the number is already pre-programmed in our phones, of course), and rendez-vous with the delivery person at our front door.  (One perk of waiting for our meals to show up: we can use that extra time for eyebrow maintenance.)

If the meal is suspiciously TOO authentic to be plated once removed from their take-out containers (ie bouillabaisse from that French bistro), I would suggest heading to the deli section of one of those yuppie markets like Whole Paycheck Foods, Bristol Farms or Gelson's for their selection of pre-made meal options.  Or try places like Little Next Door or Joan's on Third if you live in Los Anjealous.

Another impressive trick is to place the take-out contents in a warming skillet on the actual STOVE before plating it.  Note: any and all evidence of the true origin of the meal should be destroyed, hidden or removed from the premises.  

2) Pseudo-cooking à la Mom.
I grew up on a healthy diet of hormones, additives and preservatives.  Some evenings, Mom would make heavily protein-based dinners that included pork chops, steaks or ribs.  Then there were days when Mom had a "headache," so dinner would consist of a casserole (made from pasta and Campbell's cream of mushroom), Hamburger Helper or Stouffer's chicken pot pie.

This single girl grew up learning the advantages of pseudo-cooking, aka taking "short-cuts" in the kitchen.  So when I offered to make dinner for a boy I've been seeing, I dashed to my local Trader Joe's immediately after work, and grabbed a bag of their frozen mushroom risotto and two chicken breasts.

While the frozen risotto was thawing on my kitchen counter, I took a quick shower. While the chicken was cooking on a skillet, I vacuumed the living room.  By the time the boy showed up, my apartment and I were immaculately clean, buffed and polished with a "home cooked" chicken and mushroom risotto waiting for us on the stove top.  

And yes, I got laid that night.