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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 7/27/07

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What’s Cooking? – Readers Have Their Say…

Smells Fishy

Dear Rachel,

Given the seriousness of the issues that your column covers, I was more than a little amused by the one about the woman who signed herself “Beyond Boiling” (Chronicles 5-25) because her husband does the cooking. As a man, I do not appreciate your strategy for manipulating the husband in a way that would “have him eating out of your hand.” It wouldn’t work on me, and it is somewhat sexist to suggest that a way to a man’s heart is simply through his ego being stroked.

I realize you took the writer a bit to task for complaining about this, but it seems there may be some greater underlying issues at work that have nothing to do with cooking. The fact that she doesn’t appreciate this big contribution and would rather complain about it makes her appear to me as a controlling person who has lost control in this aspect. I pray that I’m wrong, but the fact that she was moved enough to write such a letter leads me to believe that this ain’t just about cooking.

Doesn’t smell right to me

Envious Ex

Dear Rachel,

To comment on your recent article about the hubby who cooks up a storm but won’t clean up, my advice to the woman would be to relax and be happy that he wants to help out. I wish my ex-husband would have been like that throughout my marriage. He was in the beginning; then when the novelty wore off he gave up being the house chef and turned in his apron, believing that I would wait on him hand and foot.

I think it is great that a man wants to putter in the kitchen. Why can’t both of you clean up the mess together? What a great way to connect with one another after a long hard day! I wish I had been so lucky. My ex came home at 10:00 p.m. expecting a Shabbat-type meal at that late hour, to be served by me, his maid.

This lady should appreciate her loving, caring hubby.

Wouldn’t mind if he were mine

What’s Good For The Goose…

Dear Rachel,

One of the things I love about your column is that I always end up giving thanks to G-d for not having yenem’s tzoros (another’s troubles).

Though it was refreshing to read of the problem this woman has (compared to others that have come to light in Chronicles), I must say that I sympathize with her dilemma (her husband taking over in the kitchen). Somehow I doubt he’d appreciate her messing around with his tools in the garage and leaving them in disarray all over the place, not to mention busying herself with them while he waits on the sidelines for her to finish “tooling” around.

This eager young man should at least let his wife in on his culinary agenda and not take the initiative without first talking it over with her. I am sure she’d welcome his help if he offered it unassertively and didn’t just assume control of the kitchen.

It boils down to “how” not “what”

A Model Of Tolerance

Dear Rachel,

The young wife who is boiling over took me back in time. This could have been my mom writing the letter – only she didn’t just get married. Besides, she stopped complaining a long time ago. (It didn’t help.)

It was obvious that my father who has always liked puttering in the kitchen also considered himself to be G-d’s gift to womankind. No doubt his contribution made a difference during hectic times. But after watching my mom slave away cleaning and scrubbing when she could have just as well done the job herself with less of a mess and without eating her heart out, I made up my mind that given the choice I’d opt for a man who can’t even boil up water.

Though my parents worked it out over the years (taking turns in the kitchen), Mom still cringes when company naturally assumes that the less-than-well-turned-out/uneven/overcooked/underbaked dish is my mother’s handiwork – when in fact it would be one of my father’s accomplishments. (My father generously insists that my mother – to her chagrin – take credit for all the meals served in their home.)

Some of the tactics that my mother employs to help her cope and maintain her sanity may be useful to the young lady who is “boiling”: If my father is set to do the cooking, a disposable plastic tablecloth is spread across the entire counter so that the whole mess could be cleaned up in one fell swoop; foil lines the gas range top at all times; durable granite has long ago replaced easily scratched and stained Formica countertops; oven racks are covered with heavy-duty foil; and my father gets to have the run of the kitchen when he busies himself behind the stove. (My mother will peek in occasionally and discreetly lower the flame or the oven temperature when called for.)

And you’re so right, Rachel. For as long as my mother complained, you could cut the tension in the air with a knife. Once she threw in the towel and learned to take her lot in stride, she became calmer and he can “patchke” to his heart’s content – as long as he is equally accepting of her time in the kitchen. Sometimes they can actually be found working on preparing a meal or dish together. (Wonders never cease!)

Oh, I too married a man who prides himself on his cooking ability (what do we know?), but to my relief he happily relinquishes the role of meal making to me. In a pinch, though, I can always count on him to help out – Baruch Hashem the best of both worlds, you might say.

Been there, seen that

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About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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