My Picky Husband

Are you frustrated by gourmet recipes that contain a huge list of ingredients, some of which you’ve never heard of? Do you find yourself mentally scratching out things that your picky eater can’t (or won’t) eat, until you feel you’re down to almost nothing? Do you feel like you can never cook something that your loved ones truly enjoy, and is healthy too? Then read on, because this blog is for you.

I am married to a man with Asperger’s. Asperger’s disorder is on the autism spectrum, and is often characterized by certain personality traits. I think of Asperger’s as “Nutty Professor Syndrome.” My husband is brilliant, disorganized, insightful, logical, and sensitive. By sensitive I mean that all five of his senses are heightened and he is easily overstimulated. Powerful sensations such as loud noises or the smell of alcohol can make him uncomfortable or even sick. Certain tastes or smells which others might not enjoy but don’t mind too much, such as over-ripe fruit, become absolutely foul and abhorrent to him. Because of his hypersensitivity, there is a very long list of ingredients that my husband cannot tolerate, even in the smallest amounts. He can even tell if these ingredients are puréed and quietly snuck into a dish. His immutable taste buds have certainly made my work in the kitchen a bit more difficult.

My husband’s pickiness challenges me to cook in a new way, and he gives me constant feedback. Oftentimes he will say the dish tastes wonderful, but have I ever thought of sauteing the shrimp first before I add them to the sauce? Or adding the garlic after the tomatoes? Or adding the vegetables to the sauce instead of serving them on the side? Or trying a different brand of pasta, a different fat content in the milk? Most of the time I try his suggestion the dish improves. His sensitivity allows him to discern and appreciate the smallest changes in taste and smell, and as such, the distance between good food and delicious food is very large indeed. He is a true gourmand, and one of the most appreciative eaters I have ever met. I often feel that something truly delicious much taste even more delicious to him.

Over our three years of marriage I have become very adept at boiling down even the most complicated recipes to suit his particular tastes. Every ingredient has a purpose, and their combined tastes blend together into something powerful and multi-faceted, but never conflicting with itself. One day it struck me that others – people living with kids who are picky eaters, or with someone who is otherwise hypersensitive, or even people who don’t have time to buy 15 ingredients for every dish – might benefit from learning my minimalist style of cooking. Thus this blog was born.

On this blog I will post recipes and try to describe the essential flavors of the dish. Not all of my recipes are easy or quick, but many are. Some days I love spending 3 or 4 hours in the kitchen, but I know that many people don’t. I will try to vary what I post and label each recipe with approximate preparation (if any) and cooking time. The common theme of my dishes is that they each emphasize one flavor, or one flavor combination, that most people will find appealing. Every dish will also contain vegetables or fruits or be easily paired with them. Finally, most of my recipes will contain 7 or fewer ingredients, to make it easier for anyone cooking for a picky eater who has a list of no-fly foods.

My husband and I love eating. I hope you do too, although I realize that cooking for a picky eater can be difficult. I hope that this blog removes some of the stress from cooking for yourself and your loved ones. Bon Appétit!

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