Dinner for Two: Not as Romantic as It May Seem

“Your recipe wasn’t clear enough,” my wife says. “It’s not my recipe!” I shout.

My wife and I are cooking dinner together. This is a fairly uncommon affair because the kitchen is very, very small and a leak in the washing machine means the floor is almost always has a puddle to be navigated.

We were not supposed to be cooking dinner together, just like we weren’t supposed to make breakfast together this morning. It has been an especially unwieldy day, food-wise. In both cases, we were each expecting the other to do it, and so it has fallen that we are ungraciously pulling together while almost too hungry to function.

I happen to have written a recipe for the meal we are attempting, not because it is particularly extravagant, but because then it can go in my special meal planning app. I love this app because every Monday, after much to-ing and fro-ing from me, it magically creates a shopping list of all the groceries we need for the week. We can then undertake one large painful trip around the supermarket, rather than several medium-sized ones in a daily ritual as pleasantly amusing and expensive as toothache.

I have endeavoured to hide from my wife the fact that I have personally created this recipe because as soon as I show it to him I realise that the tone I have written it in is excruciatingly twee. The recipe ends with the word “Voilà!”, and if there is anything more embarrassing than that in a personal how-to, I can’t think what it is. The recipe is named, creatively, “Broccoli, walnut and spinach spaghetti.”

“Did you write this recipe?” is the first question he asks me after glancing over it.


The problems start straight away. “I’ll just bung this broccoli straight in the frying pan, shall I?” he asks.

“What does it say in the recipe?”

“Nothing. It says to chop the broccoli, and then at the end it says to add the fried ingredients to the pasta. No mention in between.”

“Oh,” I say. He puts them in. I look at the recipe. “Wait!” I say. “It says to include them in the pasta two minutes before the end.”

“Oh,” he says. “Whoopsies. Must’ve missed that bit. You don’t mind, do you?”

“I guess not.”

“Who puts ‘two minutes before the end’, anyway? That’s a set-up for failure to begin with.”

“Not if you’re timing the pasta correctly, it isn’t,” I say, huffily. I realise I am hungrier than I first thought.

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I try to salt the pan for the pasta and realise I have done something immensely foolish. As mentioned, our kitchen is a very damp little room, and the salt grinder has for a long while been clogged. In my great wisdom, I recently remembered that cafes with salt pots include rice in the bottom of them to soak up humidity. I will bring cafe ingenious to our very own kitchen, I thought. So far, so good, and our salt has certainly dried out. The grinder merrily deposits freshly ground salt, flecked heavily with freshly ground rice, into the saucepan.

I venture to the living-room-cum-bedroom to chop a lemon with more elbow room and when I return something smells just slightly hotter than charred. I stir the broccoli quickly. My wife, sorting out the kettle for the pasta, appears at my elbow. “I don’t like how that smells,” he says, pointing at the broccoli. “You should turn that off.”

A flicker in his direction catches my eye. The saucepan is off-centre on the hob and the ends of the spaghetti are on fire. We blow them out briskly and snip the burnt bits off with my new fabric scissors. I had previously promised myself I would treat these scissors properly this time; my mother would be horrified. We give thanks that our tiny studio does not include a fire alarm.

“Your recipe wasn’t clear enough,” my wife says.

“It’s not my recipe!” I shout.

We both add additional pasta when we think the other isn’t looking. As such, we create a veritable mountain of spaghetti. My wife considers the ridiculous sauce-to-spaghetti ratio. “I was craving pasta anyway,” he says, unperturbed.

To top off the dish, the blender forms a large, oozing crack halfway through use. Globs of green goo drip down the side. The blender doesn’t even belong to us. Breakfast, where we shouted at each other over two burnt eggs-in-baskets, seems like a blissful dream. At least we have enough pasta that we’ll never have to cook again.


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