"On our first date, Rich ordered a chocolate soufflé at the beginning of the meal, noting an asterisk on the menu warning diners of the wait involved. At the time, I imagined he did it partly to impress me, which it did, though today I know well that he's simply the type of man who knows better than to turn down a hot-from-the-oven soufflé when one is offered to him." When Michelle Maisto meets Rich - like her, a closet writer with a fierce love of books and good food - their single-mindedness at the table draws them together, and meals become a stage for their long courtship. Finally engaged, they move in together, but sitting down to shared meals each night-while working at careers, trying to write, and falling into the routines that come to define a home-soon feels like something far different from their first dinner together. Who cooks, who shops, who does the dishes? Rich craves the light fare his mother learned to prepare as a girl in China, but Michelle leans toward the hearty dishes her father knew as a boy in Italy. Rich eats meat, but Michelle doesn't. His metabolism races through carbohydrates, hers holds to them tightly. And while her idea of a quick meal is a fried egg, his is to head to a restaurant. After Rich takes additional work to pay for their wedding, Michelle offers to do his half of the cooking chores-which, along with the newness of their living together, challenges her feelings about the kitchen and what it means to be a modern wife. As they save and plan for a wedding, the nightly compromises, small generosities, and stubborn stakings of ground that take place around the dinner table offer a context in which Maisto considers what she's learned from the marriages around her, and what she and Rich might create for themselves.
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