I cooked a beautiful dinner for two tonight. Simple American food with a slight French inflection - Pan-fried skirt steak, cheddar mashed potatoes and Spinach. I did it on some perverse kind of autopilot; I was spending the night at home alone, and didn't have plans for any company. I got hungry, so I cooked. I just cooked twice as much as I needed.

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When you regularly cook for two instead of one, you measure differently. You don't double everything - you'll soon discover that you've overdone it and will end up wasting bits and pieces. Instead, you add fifty to seventy-five percent and eat less yourself. In an odd way, you end up sharing without intending to share.

Dessert, you double.

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It's odd - what happens is, you get home from work and want to eat, or get home from work and know that your companion wants to eat. So you cook. You get into a rhythm, day to day, and the days you really don't want to cook are the days you get home and find dinner on the table. It just works.

When you first start regularly cooking for two, you rapidly discover the three or four standby meals you could eat perpetually without going crazy. You make sure you always have the stuff needed to make it at hand. You get to the point where you could make the stuff in your sleep. Eventually you will end up making it in a half exhausted state and will smile when you realize you haven't destroyed the kitchen in the process.

When you go from cooking for two to cooking for one, you discover that there seems to be little point, that the food doesn't taste right and that the experimentation that goes into revitalizing old recipes doesn't bring any fulfillment without the second opinion.

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When I started to cook for myself after years of cooking for someone else as well, I realized I didn't actually know how to do it. There was always another variable. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't disengage the autopilot. Even now, so much later, I can't convince my body to do the math in reverse.

Nowadays, I cook for two and go back for seconds.

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