Weigl: What dishes should everyone know how to cook?

andrea.weigl@newsobserver.comAugust 7, 2012 

A friend of mine is getting married next month. I adore the man she is marrying. He loves her golden retriever as much as she does. I didn’t think that was possible.

When they started dating, he announced he was going to make her dinner – paella, a classic Spanish dish of meat, seafood and saffron-flavored rice.

I was impressed. Paella is no simple undertaking. I own the special pan used to make it, but I have never been that ambitious.

The next day, I learned he had made paella out of a box.

His enthusiasm for good food apparently outstripped his cooking skills.

Since then, I had heard occasional comments about his other well-meaning attempts in the kitchen. But until she started telling stories during a recent bachelorette weekend, I had no idea how desperate the situation was.

Exhibit A: He offered recently to make her an egg sandwich. It was delicious. Then she went into the kitchen and saw that he had used nine eggs before scrambling one correctly.

Exhibit B: On New Year’s Eve, she was making them a romantic dinner. He offered to help. Busy with the entrees, she asked him to make the salad. He chopped lettuce and carrots and placed them in a bowl. Then he put the salad bowl under a faucet of running water.

That’s when I decided to help. I remember what it was like learning how to cook when every meal was as likely to end up in the trash as on my plate. There’s nothing more discouraging.

I know how rewarding it can feel now when people compliment me on my cooking. It’s a source of confidence and resourcefulness that I can come home and make dinner regardless of what’s in the refrigerator.

I realized that my friend’s fiancé is willing to try despite previous failures. That’s a good sign.

And so, I am going to offer this groom a series of cooking lessons as part of their wedding present. And I want your advice.

What are the essential dishes that everyone should know how to cook? What skills should everyone master in the kitchen?

Let me know what you think, and I’ll share our collective wisdom in a future column.

Weigl: aweigl@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4848

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