Hundred-year-old Advice for Keeping a Husband Interested

Strawberry Bavarian CreamHere’s some advice in a 1922 issue of American Cookery magazine on how to keep a husband interested and in love.

The Spice of Life

To keep a husband interested and in love with her, a wife must vary her costumes, argues every woman. A simple blue gown one evening, and a somewhat vampish green one the next, is what keeps hubby fascinated.

Undoubtably that is true. But let me ask that same woman how much thought she has given to the old adage, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” How often does she change her menus? Or, is it pork and beans every Saturday night in the year, and the proverbial stew of Sunday’s left-over dinner every Monday night? Fish, of course on Fridays, and always Wednesdays a delicatessen dinner, because she goes to play bridge every Wednesday afternoon, so hasn’t the time to prepare anything else. Not much chance for variety of diet there.

Or, perhaps, she hasn’t definite nights for definite things, but her range of recipes is so narrow. I have see the statement given as a fact by those who have made a study of it, that the average woman, in an American home, uses less than thirty separate recipes. Think of it, when the number of cookbooks is legion, and the magazines and newspapers print, each week, more than two thousand recipes.

Get out of your recipe rut! Give your family a change. Try adding, for instance, two new recipes a week to your menus. Even if you have your favorite way of making pie crust, and your special recipe for layer cake, experiment with a new one once in a while.

The culinary art is not behind the other arts in its progress. Benefit by it. A new dish is just as gratifying and alluring to your husband’s palate, as a new dress is to his eye. Try it and see. And wouldn’t it take the monotony out of planning three meals a day for every day for you, if you varied the menus with a new dish occasionally?

American Cookery (August/September, 1922)

17 thoughts on “Hundred-year-old Advice for Keeping a Husband Interested

    1. Odd. . .my wife had the same opinion.

      Actually, Sunday nights are my designated nights to cook, but more often than not I cover Saturday as well, and any grilling for reasons that I don’t really grasp (common to the common trope, I’m not manic about doing the grilling and would prefer for somebody else to do it).

  1. I laughed at keeping a husband’s interest with food. I loved my husband with food, always trying to prepare things that would please him.

    I was some special kind of stupid, because it took me 50 years to believe what he told me. He said, “I don’t care about food.”

    Food was fuel to him, so he didn’t linger over a meal to enjoy it. It didn’t matter if there were constant repeats, but he did notice if there wasn’t a meal heading to the table when he was hungry. Time was more important than a delicious new recipe. I should have cooked for myself and served meals on his stomach time.

    1. I do, I admit, care about food. But preparing food is real work, so I’ve never complained about it. My wife makes one or two dishes fairly regularly that I really don’t like, but I never mention that, as they’re easy to prepare. Anyhow, she used to make something called “gravy burger”. I hate gravy in general, but when the kids lived at home, apparently they liked it. Somebody brought the topic up once, and she mentioned that “you love gravy burgers” and I casually replied that I didn’t like them and everyone was stunned. I’ve felt badly about it ever since, as she quit making them.

      1. Aww! Your sacrifice went unnoticed, and then you blurted out the truth. I feel sorry for both you and your wife. You were caught between tolerance and stunning confession. I give you high praise for being aware of the feelings of others.

    2. Adding just a tad to your comment, as a student of human behavior, I’ve noted that somebody really, really care about food. I guess they’re foodies. Who knows what folks like this did in earlier eras when there was less variety. Others care, but at different levels. I’ve seen food sent back in restaurants for things so minor that it embarrassed me just to be seated with the person sending it back.

      Some people, my wife being one, have gigantic aversions to new foods. Over the years I’ve learned that going to specialty restaurants is a huge risk with her, because if the food isn’t familiar, and hamburgers are an option, she’s ordering that. In my entire life, by contrast, I’ve probably ordered a hamburger in a sit down restaurant maybe once. This has something, I think, to do with how we were raised. We’re both from rural backgrounds, but in my family that meant there was always a lot of varied game, so even though my mother was an awful cook, there was a lot of variety. In her family it was always a culled cow and to this day beef is pretty much what she figures should always be for dinner, with something like pork being a bit exotic.

      Some people apparently care only about volume. A guy I work with, who is constantly going on diets that are based on what you eat, rather than how much of it, is that way. The volumes of food he brings into work is stunning, but nearly anything he eats is simply drowning in hot sauce. And I mean buckets of it. It apparently isn’t the taste of the food, which must all taste just like hot sauce, but how much food there is.

      In contrast, I always eat dinner, but I’ll actually forget to eat other meals. Just forget. Apparently this is unusual as it tends to shock people. My coworker and I are the exact same height and I never each lunch as it is, and I think this is as odd to him as his huge quantities of food is to me.

      1. People really do relate to food differently.

        Thanks for writing about your food background. I find that interesting.

        I know a person who is the direct opposite of your wife. My sister-in-law is an adventuresome eater, always choosing something she has never had before, when possible. If she goes to a restaurant she has been to before, she always opts for something different.

    1. I have to laugh as it’s long been a stock reply of my wife if I suggest something new, to reply “I don’t know how to do that”. That’s why I have the grilling duties, supposedly. She “doesn’t know how to do that”.

      Years ago, I was making something that required boiled eggs. I don’t do that often, so I was probably just making a salad with sliced boiled eggs. Anyhow, as my hands were tied up, I asked if she could cook the eggs, to which I got the instant reply “I don’t know how to do that”. I was so caught off guard that I said, stunned, “you don’t know how to boil water?”

      Now that sounds rude, but I was simply really surprised and my teenage daughter burst out laughing. My wife looked as stunned by her own comment as I was, and laughed as well. The real truth, she didn’t want to do it, was revealed.

      In her defense, when she cooks something major, she likes to get people involved in it. I think her mother likely cooked that way. In contrast, I was a single child and my mother fell severely ill when I was an early teen, and after that there were a lot of things I just had to figure out on my own. I note that, as I hate having help when I’m cooking and tend to reject friendly suggestions on how to cook. My wife, on the other hand, likes to have lots of people involved in it.

  2. Hehe! Sparky loves to try new foods. When I make an especially tasty recipe he’ll tell me to “put it in the rotation”. Currently I have about 100 recipes that he really likes. But his favorite is spaghetti with meat sauce. He could have that once a week but I refuse to make it more than once every 2 – 4 weeks.

  3. LOL, reminds me of the Father Knows Best reruns I watched on TV years ago. The first meal I cooked for my husband was a family favorite, veal cutlets. He didn’t touch a bite of it. I didn’t know then he wouldn’t eat veal (or lamb).

    1. I love lamb, and we’d have it occasionally as a kid. Veal, on the other hand, is something I’ve never been fond of, for an odd reason. My grandfather owned a packing house and had worked in that industry his entire (short) life. My father had worked in it as a teenager. My father was of the opinion that veal was produced via a cruel method, if real veal, which is apparently what his father thought also, so he wouldn’t touch it. I never developed a taste for it. I’d note that most of the time a person sees veal on a menu, it isn’t real veal.

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