I don’t like the person that I become when I watch The Barefoot Contessa. Cradling a block of cheese, I black out into a pit of self-doubt, wondering if I will ever look at anyone with the same passion that Ina Garten exudes as she gazes upon her beloved husband, Jeffrey.
She loves him despite the fact that he uses only his index fingers to poke at his PC’s keyboard, and so much so that she’s willing to step away from still-scrambling eggs to steal a kiss, forgoing any large curds that might congeal in the absence of her stir. And though his fandom lacks a collective name, its membership is considerable enough to have elicited a forthcoming cookbook dutifully entitled “Cooking for Jeffrey,” which promises recipes for his favorite dishes coupled with “fun stories” from their life together. It’s found its way into my cart but, selfishly, I crave something more from this masterpiece of culinary literature than step-by-step instructions to assemble Vanilla Rum Panna Cotta.
And so I inquire, a la Barefoot Contessa:
Dear Ina, Do you have a recipe that yields one Jeffrey of my very own?
Like a decent home chef, I used my knack for observation via Netflix binge-watching to compile a list of plausible ingredients that might concoct a Hamptons romance such as yours and Jeffrey’s. My best guess runs as follows, but please advise as my recipe-writing is inexperienced at best.
To begin, you must have a penchant for using “good” ingredients exclusively. Never do you support olive oil that one might find in a jug, and I can assume you hold your counterpart to the same standards. Time is a second crucial factor; love is not a stir-fry, but a four-hour lamb that requires complex amalgamation. Heat is not to be discounted.
Your partner is not your sous chef. Just like John is to Chrissy and as Paul was to Julia, you and Jeffrey exist separately. He maintains his place in the study, but will entertain a “surprise” birthday party as though your heirloom tomatoes depended on it. This is why your food is basted with the same love that you found in him at 15 years old; he feeds your heart and you reciprocate with crème fraîche.
I thought that I found my Jeffrey once, Ina. He was a guy that I met on Bumble who had a set of cast iron skillets and a Sous Vide machine. As I minced garlic, he captured the hypnotic rocking of my knife in slow motion on his iPhone, but never sent this footage to me. Instead, he took home my leftovers and kept the tupperware too. But at your discretion, I will go “Back to Basics” and face the somber reality: expecting filet mignon from a microwave dinner seared by a swipe is completely absurd.
Separate consideration, before you go — Should I get a bob?
An Ina Sans Her Jeffrey