Here’s to Men With Kitchen Skills

11 Jun 2020 | 02:13

“Don’t do it, Amy,” was all I could think as I began watching “Amy Schumer Learns To Cook” on the Food Network, where the Upper West Side actress/comedian and her husband Chef Chris Fischer prepare meals while quarantining on Martha’s Vineyard. Well, he prepares; she prepares to get schooled.

Yes, it’s funny, with their baby son Gene sometimes waking from his nap to join the party, the purposely low-quality production values via their caregiver-cum-cinematographer Jane trying to follow the action with a digital camera, and the IRL banter between the celebrity couple.

The new parents agreed to do the show with the proviso the channel donate money to charities they support.

If all this measuring, chopping and stirring is a fundraising tool, then go for it, girl. But if the “I Feel Pretty” star really wants to undertake how to slice, dice and julienne fry, well Amy, take it from one who knows, if your husband is willing to sweat over a hot stove — let him; or else why marry a man with kitchen skills? Rather than boil a pan of water, I’d prefer to clean every pot, dish, and utensil we own, and often do as my better half Neil cooks with gusto.

When we got together 40 years ago, I made no pretense that, like every other single girl living in an NYC studio, my idea of whipping up dinner was bringing home a plastic container from a neighborhood salad bar.

During our courtship we dined out all the time because that’s what young Manhattanites did and still would do if it were not for #stayhome.

In the early years of our marriage, Neil was on the partner track at his law firm and usually didn’t get home until 11 o’clock at night on weekdays, so I reverted to my single life ways and brought mixed greens with fixin’s home from the deli.

On weekends, we still frequented restaurants, but every now and then I felt I needed to prove I was a good wife and made dinner. Neil always thanked me for my efforts and ate what was in front of him, but after a while I noticed when I said I’d cook, like a magician he’d pull a takeout menu out of the air and tell me there was a new neighborhood joint we really should try.

It never occurred to me that he was passive-aggressively steering me away from the kitchen, and I never balked at his suggestion because I actually considered making food a chore right up there with vacuuming and doing laundry.

I didn’t realize though how much exactly I hated using the stove until I became a stay-at-home mother and had to put diner on the table each evening. As Neil did not arrive home until 7 or 8 p.m., I cooked for myself and my now-adult children, Luke and Meg.

They enjoyed the basics: pasta with jarred sauce, broiled lamb or pork chops, and my favorite dish to prepare - a golden ready-to-eat rotisserie chicken from the supermarket.

Our vegetable dishes were courtesy of the Jolly Green Giant or Birdseye. Uncle Ben and his 90-second rice selections were my best friends, with microwavable mashed potatoes coming in at a close second.

Although Neil approved of my entrée choices, I could tell from the look on his face he believed I should raise the bar on vegetables. It was around this time that Neil chose to really step up his amateur chef game creating two, sometimes three course creations on the weekends, which has continued for the past 20 years, until lockdown struck.

I’ve gained 5 pounds since sheltering in place as Neil cooks not only dinner every night but breakfast each morning as well. (“Who wants pancakes?”)

Yes, the downside to a man who cooks is that you eat — a lot. But that is, dare I say, outweighed by the fact that if he’s doing it, I don’t have to.

Learn to cook? Oh no Amy, learn to clean up, although you already have when your man knows his way around a Cuisinart.

Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of the novels “Fat Chick“ and “Back to Work She Goes” and the upcoming “The Last Single Woman in New York City.”