Good Wife; Bad Cook.

by Leslie Morgan Steiner


I am a terrible cook.


No kidding – 99% of the food I make, even when I follow a recipe scrupulously, is not edible.


I once made a brisket that was as tough as my computer keyboard.


Coq au vin that was all vin.


Noodle casserole that after four hours of shopping, chopping and baking and one bite went straight into the trash can.


Fortunately, I can make chocolate chip cookies, which redeems me in my kids’ eyes.


However, a recent article in Harvard Magazine tells me cookies would never have been enough to attract or keep a man. There’s a new book out called Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human that explains how transformational fire was to homo sapiens.


In simple terms, here’s the argument: Raw food does not have enough calories to sustain our bodies and our brains over time. Cooked food is easier to digest and increases the number of nutrients and fats available through the human digestive system. Cooked food may in fact explain why humans’ brains developed to be larger and more complex than other mammals who couldn’t master putting raw meat over fire.


According to the author -- Harvard professor of biological anthropology Richard Wrangham –as paraphrased in Harvard Magazine:


“Cooking shapes social relations between human males and females, from the sexual division of labor to the mating system itself, which is based not on sex but food… These bonds were so critical for the successful feeding of both sexes that they generated a psychology in our ancestors that shaped female-male relationship and continues to affect us today.”


In short: During caveman times, women who were the best cooks attracted the best mates. Or more colloquially today, the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

leslie morgan s...

Leslie Morgan Steiner

My mom is a fantastic cook too. The only stuff I know how to cook is a direct copy of her technique. I think cooking is sometimes truly an art, an inherent talent like athletic ability. You CAN learn but some people are naturally really good at it without lessons or "trying."


I am a terrible cook made all the more embarassing by the fact that my dad is a trained chef, I didn't learn anything from him. I just posted on that my dh does most of the cooking especially during the holidays. I hate cooking for other people.

leslie morgan s...

Leslie Morgan Steiner

Heeheehee, Stevie! Mine are hardly bigger than mosquito bites so I'm in big trouble. Which may actually be good...It is pretty amazing how driven some of us (moi) are to attract "mates" and then how completely insane they drive us.


Guess it's a good thing I'm an amazing cook since my breasts are the size of mosquito bites.


I also am a terrible cook. I am much better in the preparation department. I have found a large portion of the male population especially here in the South expects you to be a cook and do all the domestic things they don't want to do. As a single parent, I am also doing ALL of the things that traditionally the male would do. The expectation that I wouldn't suddenly want to quit doing all the things I do to run my household and start waiting on someone hand and foot has come as a shock to the men that I have come across. I haven't found that person yet that understands that division of labor doesn't just apply to work world. It works at home also. I grew up in a world, where both parents came home from work and the mother continued to work doing housework, cooking, cleaning, etc until bedtime. I don't think that is fair. If both parents work outside the home, then they should both do the domestic stuff to.


Cooking makes me very happy, and I love to make good food for my family. We love to try new things and make most things from scratch. My husband loves me for me, but being a good cook is a bonus. The only time I don't like cooking is a couple of times a year when I make his favorite foods that I cannot stand to touch, smell, or look at. The other 360 days a year, we both enjoy my cooking, and we enjoy spending time together while we eat.