July 28, 2006
Reverting to Bachelor Mode

My wife and I moved to Maryland so she could further her medical studies at a major university medical center here. She's already board certified, but she's subspecializing and this requires a fellowship - a course of three years of study, research, and work in her subspecialty.

We both knew that the first year would be the hardest and that I'd probably only see her at bedtime and in the morning briefly, but I didn't realize how important it had been to my cooking to have her around as the second diner. It's hard getting pumped up to cook for just yourself, so I've found myself reverting to a few of my bachelor habits. One of these is eating foods from jars, without doing anything else to the contents. That sounds fine, but the combinations tend to be pretty strange, depending on what I have a taste for. I thought I'd share last night's meal which was particularly all over the place.

I started with a little herring in sour cream. This is not something we ordinarily have around the house, but it sounded very good to me. My one regret about our trip to Amsterdam last year is that I didn't get to try herring from one of the stands there. My Dutch ancestry reasserts itself from time to time, however, by forcing me to buy jars of herring.

So what goes best with herring? Why, green mango pickle in an insanely spicy sauce of course. I'd picked this up at a local Persian store that also carries some Indian specialties. I found it hard to get the last bits of insanely hot sauce from the bottom of the bowl so I brought some pita into the mix.

And once you have pita, its imperative to break out the garlic hummus. Mmmm. Garlic hummus. If you like hummus, but are afraid your guy friends will make fun of you for eating it, get garlic hummus. You'll smell so bad, they won't be able to question your guy-ness.

I tried to figure out as I was eating exactly how these foods went together. The only common link that I could find is that I'd never serve them to the Redhead. I might try her out on the hummus, but I wouldn't expect her anywhere near the herring or the mango pickle.

So what do you eat when the spouse isn't around? What foods do you hold off on until that business trip or that late night at the office keeps your better half out of the kitchen? I'm hoping I'm not the only one who comes up with these Frankenstein creations.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at July 28, 2006 8:15 AM Print-friendly version

Please don't totally succumb to the processed food! Your poor wife will start feeling guilty for having to be at work so much. Hummus, pita and pickly aren't bad, but herring in real (as opposed to what?) sour cream. Sorry, just teasing. I actually understand your experience very well. My husband travels occasionally for business and last week, it was so hard to get my act together to cook. I had no choice, as I wasn't in the mood for tuna or canned soup. It is also nice to have a sous chef to help with prep. One upside is that you'll have all those leftovers for lunch. I ate stuffed peppers for 4 meals in 3 days.

Posted by Julie on July 28, 2006 at 10:49 AM

Julie, I try not to think too hard about what the alternatives are to REAL sour cream. I've never really considered sour cream to be a gourmet item, but I can certainly imaging horrific substitutes.

We're going out for dinner tonight, and she has the weekend off (for once) so I'll have someone to cook for.

Posted by barrett on July 28, 2006 at 11:20 AM

Microwaved nachos for dinner. Calf's liver, artichokes or anything "weird" that the Critic would never in a million years expect. And cheese and crackers, occasionally.

I spend a lot of time eating leftovers actually. I habitually make too much food (I blame early training by my Austrian grandmother) but I also hate to throw anything edible away. So, leftovers.

Posted by Meg in Paris on July 28, 2006 at 12:26 PM

I've already confessed to my own jar-food behavior once this week, so here goes again: Miracle Whip, sardines, crackers. My husband can't stand to watch, so I only do this when I'm alone in the house. Maybe he can't stand the aroma, either!

Posted by lydia on July 28, 2006 at 2:39 PM

My husband who is French eats rabbit and veal brain when I'm not at home. I have trouble looking at either, but especially the brain. I tend to have junk when he is gone, cheese and wine, a small package of nuts, sometimes some pudding. I used to have Cheerios for dinner as well but can't find them easily, or as cheaply, here in France. He always wants a decent dinner that requires some work. I usually don't cook at all when on my own.

Posted by Linda on July 30, 2006 at 11:37 AM

Since I cook for one almost exclusively, some of my meals are just microwave popcorn or a can of soup mixed with instant rice in the microwave. Also, cheese wrapped in a slice of cold cuts.

Posted by Lynda on July 30, 2006 at 2:12 PM

I'm fairly certain that I got the Redhead to try both mango pickle and hummus (not together) many years ago; she might have been humoring me, but she didn't seem too averse to either of them.

Also, as someone with no need to revert to bachelor cookery, I can say that random tidbits is a time-honored dining-alone tradition, and nothing to be ashamed of; a good friend of mine's favorite dinner, in fact, is "Pieces of Things" on a plate, which she has even convinced her husband is a legitimate meal-for-two.

Posted by Sweth on July 31, 2006 at 8:48 AM

Freezer foods are consumed when the Man is out of town! Tonight was Spanakopita from Impromptu Gourmet.

The Goobers (16-year-old twin boys) wouldn't touch it so it was all mine! They foraged and had corndogs (yuck!).

Posted by Michelle on July 31, 2006 at 11:03 PM
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