The Matzav Shmoooze: My Wife is Clueless in the Kitchen


clueless in the kitchenDear Editor,

Thank you for allowing me to share this letter with your readers.

I have been married almost 20 years, happily, boruch Hashem. My wife, may she be gebentched, does not know how to cook. She has many abilities, but cooking is not one of them.

Throughout the years, I have been fine with it. I am not a big eater and I am not very into food altogether. But of late, we have had guests, and it is somewhat embarrassing.

My question is simple: Can I say anything to her? Is it too late at this point? Can I suggest that when we have company, we just buy all the food? Am I better off leaving it alone?

Are there any other people out there who have a similar situation and can share some advice?

Thank you.

A Husband

Brooklyn, NY

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  1. Learn how to cook and when you have guests you do the cooking. And make sure your daughters know how to cook, because not everyone will be as tolerant as you.

  2. Buy the book: The bride who knew nothing by
    Jamie Geller. It is basically buying prepared items and putting them together to make delicious dishes.
    Good luck
    If cooking is the only prob ur a lucky person.

  3. It’s been 20 years. If she hasn’t learned how to cook, she never will. If you tell her that she doesn’t know how to cook she’ll think you’ve lied to her the past 20 years. It will be extremely humiliating for her.

    I would suggest if you do say something that you have a session with a marriage counselor booked in advance to deal with the fallout.

  4. How can you embarrass your wife borabbim ? You need real help. Don’t you think someone will read this and figure it out ? Maybe your wife ? May all your food be burnt to a crisp.

  5. I am in a similar situation, in which I basically prepare all the food for Shabbos. When we have guests, they have no idea who prepared the food (I only take claim for the cholent). Throughout the meal, I give appropriate comments about how delicious the food is, and nobody who knows that I prepare it says anything. The truth is that family situations are different and there really is nothing to be embarrassed of. It will be a sign of self confidence for you and your wife to openly declare that “this it what works for us” .
    After I wrote what I just did, I looked back at your post and it seems that the problem is that you are not such a great cook either. I guess the choice is for you or your wife to become one, or patronize one of the fine Take-out establishments in your neighborhood :). Hatzlocho Rabba!

  6. It depends on your situation. Are you sure your wife is really such a poor cook or might it just be your taste doesn’t match her cullinary efforts? Is she clueless as to her poor cooking and will she be hurt if someone enlightens her? Can you help her, either by doing some/all of the cooking yourself or assisting her with her recipe preparation? Can she follow simple recipes from a cookbook? Just remember that your very first priority (with nothing else being even a close second) is to make sure you don’t hurt her and make her feel bad. On a separate note, post #4 by “Ohaiv” (speaking of irony) is a prime candidate for deletion due to its extraordinary nastiness and being dan l’kaf choiv.

  7. May I suggest that you request of your wife to teach you how to make a certain dish, share with her how much you enjoy cooking with her and together look up some adventurous ideas from cookbooks (together…). It can be adventerous time spent with each other!, thereby expressing your interest in spending quality time with her, while having fun!
    Your food need not be burnt to a crisp yet delicately and lovingly dealing with your situation can make your home a desirable dwelling place for the shchina and bring you much bracha. Tatzliach.

  8. you can slowly incorporate a little bit of each. You can buy Lokshen and/or potato kugel in many groceries – it’s not quite like “buying take out” but rather supplementation that many people do. It saves the cook a lot of time and lokshen kugel is something that many people don’t make as well as the store-bought, no embarassment there.

    You can get a simple cookbook and/or experiment with it together.

    You can take on one food, like Cholent or Liver, that is very often made by teh husband.

    You needn’t do all of them at once, it can be a slow process. If cooking is hard for her, all of these are not insulting but rather helpful. As a working mother, I buy lokshen kugel all the time. I had a neighbor (husband) who made the liver and a few other things every single week for decades, he’d perfected “his” dishes to an art form. And i f you get a cookbook, look for one (the bookstore staff can help you) that uses lots of shortcuts and/or prepared ingredients. Good luck!!!

  9. I would tell the letter writer not to say anything. Whatever you say is going to be taken the wrong way. Just live with it. I hope this is your worst tzaraha in your whole life. Hatzlacha