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Through her stomach, of course. And nooooo, not that way (although — nevermind). Not that way.

I know men are supposed to be able to crack open the pay-purse, screech around the corner in the fancy car and place their jackets gingerly over NY rain puddles, but that’s not ALL possible. The economy’s down, and so are jobless writers (from what I hear). The meals at Mr. Chow’s and Le Cirque will have to grind to a halt as I try to establish, um, liquidity. Chivalry is not dead though…it’s just been revised for the Modern Man.

Ever since mom raised me, I’ve been a stovetop fiend, sneaking a peek into the pot as soon as she removed her oven mitt. The smell of baked chicken wafted into my nose slowly, and just as I began the cartoon-style floating drift off my feet toward the cake on the window sill, she shouted at me to get my DUTTY HANDS out of the pot. Fair enough. What mom could not have predicted was that I’d become a kitchen maven as SOON as it became a beneficial, necessary dating tool. A few days in my first apartment alone were difficult without some front burner skills to smooth over the hunger pangs that one too many Ramen noodle weekends induce. But it was at that moment that Mom’s lessons kicked in (and when I turned on Food Network non-stop for two years). By the time I reached apartment number two, and General Tso had just about worn out his intestinal welcome, I had a few recipes to speak of and some trusty techniques to fall back on. I also had a girlfriend who did not cook (unless you count her toaster oven game, which was on point). With every meal we grew a bit closer. And I’m sure it was because I got better at understanding her palate, and she picked up a few things from me.

I never wore an apron. I never sacrificed my masculinity for the sake of an eggplant parm. I never once said the lines “and the least you could do after I slaved over a long hot meal was say thank you!” I never regretted it, either. Cooking for my girlfriend now, my main squeeze, the first ex-wife in a long saga, is that much more rewarding. There’s no better way to defuse a squabble, start a casually romantic evening, entertain some of her friends, share something, than to make a four-course meal for your mate. The reasons why?

Neither person can talk when the meal is good. Moments of silence can be the best remedy after a long work day, or a serious disagreement. It’s a way of saying thank you together. It makes both people tranquil until further notice.

I can use the line “Now you know I’d never put anything bad in you” with a (semi)straight face.

It makes you an exceptional partner when you can devote time to making your girl a meal she will love. Since few men can do much else but order food, or fashion the awkward breakfast in bed with the runny eggs-burnt toast combo, you look like a certified champ when you roll out the Thai tofu stir-fry one night alongside the steamed bok choy and snow peas. I’m just saying…I’m kind of ill.

Showing your manual skills in multiple ways wins you points. If you can build a bookshelf, fix a bulb, paint a wall AND make chocolate chip pancakes after it’s done, you’re a keeper and the envy of all her friends.

So gents, pick up a cookbook at your local bookstore and watch (some of) your relationship problems float away. Oh! And you’ll be able to eat well if you’re a single guy fixing up a modest meal. I wouldn’t lie to you.

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