When I first got married, my husband and I had frequent conversations that went like this around dinner time:
Him: What’s for dinner?
Me: Black bean soup.
Him: Sounds great! What else?
Me: Just soup.
Him: Uh….that sounds good, but it’s not really a meal.
I woke up pretty fast to the idea that people can have very different ideas of what qualifies as a “meal.”
Not everybody falls neatly into gender-specific categories when it comes to food: not all men eat the same; nor do all women. But the typical male’s eating habits are different from the typical female’s, and if you’re a woman who does a little (or a lot) of cooking for the men and boys in your life, you’ll want to know the following:
1. Men may eat differently than women.
Says Esquire, “Men eat as competition. We eat on dares. We eat the hottest pepper to show our strength. It bonds us.” Women? Not so much.
2. Men eat a lot.
Men eat more than women, because men are bigger than women. (Exception: if a woman goes through a period when she needs to put on 25 pounds in 6 months then she may be the one with the fuller plate. I definitely ate more than my husband when I was pregnant!)
3. Boys can eat more than grown men.
Pre-teen and teenage boys eat a lot, because growing twelve inches in just a year or two takes a lot of food. Don’t complain about how much your boy is eating–feed him!
4. Men like to eat meals.
A meal includes a main course and at least one side dish. (Two is better.) “One dish dinners” may be viewed by suspicion with men. Needless to say, a powerbar is not “breakfast.” Men do snack, but just as often the snack looks like another meal–a sandwich, a giant plate of nachos, a burger (but no sides–it’s just a snack!)
5. Men like to eat real food, especially protein.
Men are the ones who create caveman recipes for two-pound porterhouse steaks grilled directly on a bed of hot coals. They’re not the ones who eat a bag of sun chips and a diet coke and call it lunch. (Ahem.)
6. Salads can be Man Food.
if they have some serious toppings. One word: bacon.
7. Men like to sit adjacent to you when eating, not across from you.
Men are happy to enjoy their food with company, but they would prefer to talk side-by-side, instead of facing each other. (This is why the car is a great place to talk with a man.) You’ll have better dinner conversation if you can plan for this.
8. Presentation is not that important.
As long as the food is good, it doesn’t have to look pretty.
9. Men don’t mind messy foods.
Chicken wings, nachos, anything from the state fair–men will happily eat foods that require a whole roll of paper towels to clean up.
10. Men want to make you happy.
They’re not trying to be difficult when they delicately ask you to add some sides to that soup. They want to be happy with what they’re served, so be charitable.
If you are the primary cook at home, then the men and boys under your roof are at your mercy. Alton Brown sets a great example for men everywhere with this quote from an interview with Stuart Donald:
Q: What’s your favorite food?
Alton Brown: I’ve learned a very important lesson as a married man. My favorite food is whatever my wife is going to make next, regardless of whether I like it or not.
The nice thing about being the cook is you get to make the menu–be sure to choose foods that the males in your house will enjoy, and cook them in man-sized quantities! Your husband wants to agree with Alton Brown–make it easy for him! Just remember these 10 things and he’ll be even more appreciative of your cooking.
A Manly Meal Plan for the coming week:
Monday: Cuban sandwiches, sweet potato fries
Tuesday: Grilled polish sausages and sauerkraut, warm potato salad
Wednesday: Classic club sandwich, french fries, dill pickle spears
Thursday: Pan-seared ribeye, twice baked potatoes, caesar salad
Friday: Beer can chicken, grilled vegetables, spring potatoes with tarragon and chives
Saturday: Grilled bacon-wrapped stuffed hot dogs, coleslaw, Pat’s baked beans
Sunday: Big beef bacon cheeseburgers with sautéed mushrooms, corn on the cob, grilled ratatouille
porterhouse photo credit: Hans Gissinger via Bon Appetit