John Kelly's Washington

Columnist John Kelly Is Not Alone in Being a Poseur Chef

By John Kelly
Tuesday, October 27, 2009

All of us know how to eat, but not all of us know how to cook.

That was the thesis of a column last week in which I recounted how men -- well, this man -- often want more credit than they deserve for their occasional forays into the kitchen. Readers shared their chef tales:

Dennis Fallen of Ashton was embarrassed to admit that he found my column tucked in the lunch his wife had made for him to take to work. He wrote: "Making your article very timely, Sunday I made dinner -- like you one of those rare occasions where I, in the great spirit of a Poseur Chef, carefully followed the recipe directions, except where I thought my addition or deletion of an ingredient would make the recipe better. Now that I recognize myself for what I really am, I think I will get an apron monogrammed with 'Poseur Chef.' "

Fairfax's Rob Yunich wrote that he and his wife split the cooking duties -- he doing more of the cooking, she more of the baking -- but they're happiest when cooking together. "The uniqueness of our cooking is what we call the 'kitchen dance,' " Rob wrote. "It's the way we cook together and the way we move around each other to create dishes that we (and others) love to eat." They have a cookbook coming out on the subject.

Stephen Clarke of Silver Spring admitted that he is extremely limited in the kitchen, "but oh how I do what I do when I do it! I am called upon to fry the bacon, make grilled-cheese sandwiches, and make Italian sausage, peppers and onions."

Things work out pretty well: "My Dear Wife of 38 years does all of the cooking. I do all of the cleaning-up after the cooking. But when I do my thing in the kitchen, I still have to do the clean-up."

The District's Brenda Perkins said dividing the cooking is a no-no in her house. She's the chef. But that doesn't mean her husband doesn't contribute -- in his way. She made popovers on a recent Sunday, "when the Skins were losing. The love of my life decided to stomp and holler. Need I say more?"

Something else we can blame on Dan Snyder: collapsed popovers. "We ate them anyway," wrote Brenda.

Dorothy Birch of Ashburn said that when she was a new bride 60 years ago, she struggled with cooking and meal planning. There was, for example, the time she put too much tapioca in the pudding -- and had to throw out the pan and the spoon when the whole thing congealed into one hardened mess.

My favorite story, however, was about a co-worker who always used to ask Dorothy what she was serving for dinner. "My repertoire was limited and it seems every time he asked I was serving chili," she wrote. "On this occasion my pride got the best of me, so I told him we were having pork chops.

"The next day he met my husband and asked him 'So how were the pork chops last night?' My husband, in surprise, replied 'Pork chops? We didn't have pork chops, we had chili!' "


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