I Love You, but I Hate Your Cooking

Food and love go hand in hand. For Valentine’s Day, we’re exploring this fiery connection in all stages of a relationship, from a first date to living together to breaking up.

When Marta Hurgin first met Lisa Wolford, she loved Ms. Wolford’s sharp legal mind, her sense of humor and her empathy toward animals. And Ms. Hurgin even accepted that Ms. Wolford’s favorite food was chicken, though, as a vegetarian, she couldn’t quite understand it. The two lawyers began to date, and soon, in pursuit of domestic bliss, they moved in together in rural New Hampshire.

And blissful it was — until Ms. Wolford began to volunteer for dinner duty. “It always had to be a really complicated recipe,” Ms. Hurgin, 37, said. “Like when she makes lasagna, somehow it involves individually boiling every lasagna sheet and laying them all over the countertop. I really do have to leave the kitchen.”

While Ms. Hurgin, who made most of the couples’ meals, was an efficient and intuitive cook who cleaned as she went, Ms. Wolford, 59, cooked as if she were being held at knifepoint. She would embark on harried trips to the store for ingredients she’d never use again, nervously adhere to each step of every recipe and dirty most of the pots and pans in the kitchen. Soon, it became clear: Ms. Hurgin loved her partner. But the way her partner cooked? Not so much.

David Barto, left, is a steak-loving home cook who has had to acclimate to the meat-shy tastes of his girlfriend, Debbie Hlava.Credit…John Francis Peters for The New York Times

The two are in good company — or bad, depending on how smoothly you think dinner at home should go. As domestic roles continue to evolve, a common dynamic has emerged: People in relationships may really, really get along, but in the kitchen, they cannot share the stovetop without losing their minds.

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