In which we consider what cannot be discussed.
Cooking, when it involves courtship, often involves cooking with another. I would be the last person to forget or deny the potential of such a scene.
And yet I am reluctant to reveal my thoughts on the matter. Why?1 Because how one behaves while working with another on a sweet or not-so-sweet task, is more revealing of character than anything else I can think of. And I am loathe to point out tricks on how not to be a boor in such situations when your boorishness is exactly what your companion needs to see so they can make an informed choice about spending any more time or effort on or with you.
You see the problem.
Perhaps I can look at it from another angle, focusing on what you might want to notice in another while you cook in their company. Interpret for you the more common occurrences and how they might play out. Then you can draw your own inferences about how you should behave in similar circumstances, roles reversed. I warn you now, though. You will be wrong. Your true colors will be revealed. You will stand naked beneath the gaze of your beloved or whomever it is you have been courting and for whatever reasons. Film directors of great reputations and fame have admitted to inviting potential cast members to their home and having them assist in baking cookies or some such seemingly simple event. How much more they learn about the person and their character than they would in a cold reading. How much you will learn about others.
Oh, but we are trapped again, for their behavior is going to be related directly to your own. Unless I can be utterly sure you are being a most valuable partner, compassionate and patient and cooperative yourself, I can hardly point out anything another does as horrid and worthy of concern or flight. It might be reasonable reaction to your being too fussy or too bossy or otherwise unpleasant or even intolerable to work with.
How can I be sure that you are a good companion in the kitchen?
I cannot. You must figure this out on your own. Write your own chapter as homework. All the clues are in this book. Everything you wish I would just spit out and say right now is on these pages. It is also in most of the books on your bookshelf. I cannot bring myself to tell you how to appear to be a good person in the process of cooking with others. You might do as I say, someone will fall madly in love with you, throw their lot in with yours, and discover too late you are humorless, selfish, impatient, unimaginative and not at all the sort of person one would want to love or live with. And they might discover it was I who gave you the power to deceive and they will come after me with lawyers or some other tool of destruction. But mostly I would just feel awful about helping you perpetrate fraud, want to run to the person you deceived and hold them and kiss them and make them dinner and distract them with conversation and music and art and laughter or some such instruments of healing until they are so tired they fall into sound soft sleep.
1 And why then do I even bother to mention it? Because too many people have complained this chapter is missing and so I thought I would try to write it. But as you will see, I can’t. At least you all won’t think I forgot such an important topic.