Though most of the world’s most renowned chefs are men, when it comes to cooking, men are usually associated with grilling or barbequing. Most guys enjoy doing the barbeque thing. They get to stay outside, enjoy a few beers, and maybe even smoke a cigar while they cook. It’s almost primitive in some ways, too. Preparing the meat; starting and stoking the fire; making sure the meat is turned at just the right time, and finally, slicing the meat. Guys seem to have a natural instinct for grilling, and of course, it’s pretty simple to do. It’s not like baking a cake, or preparing Ossobuco.
To be fair, a lot of men do the cooking at home, and many are quite good at it, too. I have one friend whose wife is a great cook; though she does most of the family cooking, whenever they throw a dinner party, he’s in charge of the menu. The meal is usually at least three meticulously prepared courses, and always delicious.
So, maybe you’re not the reigning king of the kitchen. What happens if you get divorced, become a widower, or you’re still a free agent? You should know how to cook at least a few basic meals. If you’re married, especially with children, you can give your wife a break from the stove every so often. If you’re divorced, or widowed, and didn’t do much of the cooking while you were hitched, you better learn how to cook for yourself. The same goes if you’re single, unless you’d rather resign yourself to a diet of fast food, Chinese takeout, microwaveable snacks, and a lot of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. Attention single guys: Nothing impresses a woman more than the ability to cook her a great meal.
Among the gazillion cookbooks out there, The JOY of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer is still top-of-the-food-chain. Debuting over 80 years ago, and ever since, updated with numerous revisions, JOY is still “the Mother of all cookbooks.” Just about every recipe ever created is in there, from fried eggs to Beef Wellington. You’ll learn how to braise, steam, roast, sauté, and deep-fry. You’ll learn how to use the right ingredients when you cook, as well as how to use the right knife for the right job. Even microwave mavens will learn how to cook vegetables perfectly in the ol’ nuker.
You don’t have to be a Gordon Ramsey, but whether you learn nothing more than how to make a cheese omelet, having a good cookbook on the shelf is a real lifesaver.