In my family we say that the key to someone’s heart is their stomach. Doctors would probably disagree, so would musicians, but that’s OK! To each their own.
Most of us here at Food52 would probably second my family’s sentiment—food has the uncanny ability to reveal yourself to another person while also opening them up to you. It’s like a romance fast track. Suffice to say, this all got me thinking: What have some other Food52 staffers made for their partners? Whether it was a first date or many years into marriage, I was hungry to know.
So, of course, I asked. I posed a question to the whole staff: “What’s the first thing you ever cooked for a partner? I’d love to hear some early romance stories and how they played out in the kitchen. Did the dish work out in your favor or was it a flop? Bonus points if you can include a recipe.” Here’s what I learned:
Jeremy Beker, Senior Software Engineer: I can’t say it was the first thing I ever cooked for my now wife, but she often refers to me making her grilled cheeses early in our relationship. I’m happy to say I won her heart with cheese. I base my grilled cheeses on Alton Brown’s recipe.
Brinda Ayer, Books Editor: A few years ago, I attempted to make the person I was dating crepes with lemon, powdered sugar, and butter for our first weekend breakfast together. I must have over-mixed the batter or cooked them over too low a flame, because they turned out rubbery and basically inedible. We ended up going out for breakfast instead.
Luz Ramirez, Marketing Manager: So 10 years ago, I had never really cooked anything (thanks mom!) and since I didn't grow up eating the traditional American diet I told my now husband that I'd never seen bacon not pre-cooked (think those non-refrigerated packages!) so for our first date he took me apple picking and I made my first apple pie and bacon... It was AWFUL. He still claims to have taught me everything.
Caroline Harris, Senior VP of Partnerships and Strategy: Prosciutto and fontina-stuffed chicken I made in the kitchen of a professor my college roommate and I were housesitting for. My roomie and I were playing "house" so we set up a dinner party we thought adults would have, invited our boyfriends, and made the most elaborate dish we could concoct. It came out surprisingly well! And, eventually, the boyfriend married me.
Eric Kim, Senior Editor: When this came up in our brainstorm, I got sad because I couldn’t for the life of me remember the first thing I ever cooked Scott. But one day I texted him, and he wrote back: “Earliest I remember is dinner with your cousins? Steak, twice-baked potatoes, and a watermelon-feta salad. And I shattered wine.” Oh, right! I had invited him to a family BBQ. A wine bottle combusted in his hands and Cabernet went EVERYWHERE. Other than that, it went pretty well. We were in charge of the grill, and the steaks came out perfect, i.e. medium-rare.
Joanna Sciarrino, Managing Editor: The first thing I made for my partner was this scallops with brown butter and capers recipe with some mixed greens and a baguette on the side. I wanted it to be special and impressive but also easy and very delicious. Thankfully it was all of those things—and also very expensive (watch out for scallops, people!). But totally worth it, and definitely something I keep in my back pocket for weeknight celebrations.
What do you cook for the people you care about? Tell us in the comments below.