It used to be that our hearts could leap out—and our minds would race with images of our partner entangled with another on the cheap flowery sheets of a motel bed—if we found receipts from a fancy restaurant. that we had never visited. Maybe a jewelry box given to someone else.
But now people’s minds are on food.
“This is our something,” says a woman I know, about her husband’s breaded parmesan and continental parsley schnitzel. “It was the first meal he cooked for me, on our first date. So I would view it as an absolute…if he did this for another girl, I would be uncomfortable with this choice.
“Sometimes it will happen, and I’ll be like, ‘Oh‘” she sighs. Then her voice turns steely. “He better not do this for other girls, unless it’s for his girls.”
Another friend said that if her husband took a dish out of the house, for another woman, it would be a concern.
“Because he doesn’t cook,” she says. “I think any husband going out with a saucepan would be extremely suspicious.”
Another said, of the betrayal: “It’s like when you find out that the special name your partner has for you is the same one he had for all of his exes.”
Food, of course, has always been a way to cement a bond or flirt. (See: Any Nancy Meyers Movie.)
It’s possible, however, that the pandemic — and our thirst for comfort, any comfort — has further cemented the trend and our heightened awareness of what it means to be nurtured by someone else.
A survey of 2,000 Americans this year found that 70% of respondents felt cooking for someone was more intimate than having sex.
That doesn’t help us, however, when it comes to deciding how best to react if we find out that a loved one is sharing our cookies with someone else.
For that, we have to turn to the late Nora Ephron, whose best-selling autobiographical book Stomach pains, gave us a sort of primer on the matter. The tome was a thinly veiled version of her acrimonious separation from her husband, Carl Bernstein, the famous Washington Post journalist who helped break the Watergate scandal.
In real life, Ephron poured an entire bottle of red wine over the head of her husband, who cheated on her when she was seven months pregnant with their second child.
But in the author’s reworking of the event in his book, his alter-ego chose another edible for revenge.
“If I had to do it over again, I would have made a different kind of pie,” Ephron writes, portraying his alter ego, Rachel Samstat, who threw lime pie at her womanizing husband, Mark. “The pie I threw at Mark [her husband] makes a hell of a mess, but a blueberry pie would have been even better, because it would have definitely ruined his new blazer.
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