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October 24, 2009

Odd couples

Filed under: Books,Mrs. Henry,Philosophy — Mr. Henry @ 1:27 pm

“What do you want to eat for dinner tonight?” Mrs. Henry asked for the umpteenth time.

“Whatever looks good is OK by me,” responded Mr. Henry in the mistaken belief that eagerness to please his immortal beloved would win the day.

“Why must the menu decision always be up to me?” cried Mrs. Henry, straining to remain calm. “Why can’t you come up with an idea? You’re the famous Mr. Henry. Think of something!”


And thus does Mr. Henry receive his comeuppance for selflessly spreading enlightenment and joie d’esprit to his many faithful readers.

As luck would have it, and luck favors the prepared foodblogger, tucked away at the back of Notes on Cooking is a singular list of classic combinations:

duck & orange
orange & fennel
fennel & arugula
arugula & balsamic vinegar
balsamic vinegar & strawberries
strawberries & cream
cream & garlic

…and so on for two more pages.


It’s a list ready made for the beleaguered husband and willing helpmeet wandering the grocery store, all the voyage of his shopping trip bound in shallows and in miseries.

artichokes & mozzarella
mozzarella & tomatoes
tomatoes & cucumbers
cucmbers & lingonberries
lingonberries & wild goose

Sometimes a combination works even though it seems to be completely at odds, as unlikely as pumpkin & prawns, for instance.

Mr. & Mrs. Henry seem to have absolutely nothing in common, either, except a fondness for the same foods, the same vacation destinations, and the same movies. Sometimes the odd coupling is the tastiest.

yogurt & meyer lemon
meyer lemon & green olives
green olives & manchego
manchego & quince
quince & vanilla bean


  1. I second Mrs. Henry’s plaintive cry —
    “why must I come up with the menu?”
    the only thing worse, I can think of, is the response from my mate:
    “something simple”

    your list is quite simple.
    perhaps I’ll give it to him and send him on his merry/marry way.

    Comment by pixie — October 25, 2009 @ 5:55 am

  2. Your husband, dear Pixie, stands falsely accused of boorishness.

    Because he cares for your happiness, he asks for “something simple,” that is, a preparation that will not work your fingers to the bone, a hearty meal of peasant fare – salt of the earth – anything at all, really, so long as its tasty, satisfying, well-rounded, unfattening and easy to digest. You know, something simple.

    Comment by Mr. Henry — October 25, 2009 @ 6:32 am

  3. wait.
    let me get the can opener out of the drawer…..

    Comment by pixie — October 25, 2009 @ 8:12 am

  4. “green olives & manchego
    manchego & quince”

    ! leaps into car and races off to grocery store !

    Comment by Phyllis — October 25, 2009 @ 6:02 pm

  5. Oh my. Pixie is going to feed Mr. Pixie some cat food.

    Comment by Victor — October 27, 2009 @ 8:07 am

  6. I understand Pixie’s and Mrs. Henry’s frustration. Sometimes the brain just cannot come up with a menu, especially day after day. The first Mr. Jelodi would say “Whatever looks good is OK with me” only to complain when whatever was served. The second Mr. Jelodi has ideas when I don’t, and makes suggestions, which can be a huge relief. Now if I can only get him to try braised oxtails. . .

    Comment by jelodi97 — October 27, 2009 @ 1:44 pm

  7. Does Mr. Henry know of the book The Flavor Bible? It is filled with such pairings, and can be very useful when you want something unusual to you if you have a basic grasp of cooking technique (for there are no recipes).

    Comment by bristlesage — October 27, 2009 @ 3:23 pm

  8. This explains why Mrs. Henry is married and I am not.

    Recently, I was staying with some lovely married friends of mine, and at one point the wife of the family had an evening engagement which precluded her cooking dinner. Her husband and I understood we were to fend for ourselves. Fine, that’s easy. I’m used to that.

    I was halfway through eating my dinner when he wandered into the kitchen to forlornly poke at the pans and wonder if, perhaps, I’d made any for him. I hadn’t.

    Comment by raincoaster — October 27, 2009 @ 11:46 pm

  9. Not that the Glinda has cooked in these past few months, (for me, cooking every day and pregnancy don’t go together) but I too find myself on the receiving end of “oh whatever you want” and then get complaints that it isn’t flavorful enough.

    But, I’m trying to cook for three people who have totally different tastes, my husband loves spicy, I hate spicy, and my son just wants pasta all the time. Sigh.

    Comment by Glinda — October 30, 2009 @ 6:53 pm

  10. kimchi and sharp cheddar (melted)
    pork rillettes and strawberries
    strawberry yoghurt and dark chocolate

    Comment by rach3 — October 30, 2009 @ 9:36 pm

  11. Victor, no worries that cat food was on the menu. Now those mushy (deeeesgusting) canned peas, on the other hand.
    well. that’s simple. right?

    Comment by pixie — November 13, 2009 @ 5:41 am

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