Dear Amy, My stepdaughter “Serena” and her husband “Ned” have two young children aged 2 and 4. Both also have demanding, stressful jobs.
During the pandemic, I offered to cook for her family four nights a week to help her out.
Serena really appreciates my help and almost always enjoys what I cook – soup, chili, meatloaf, spaghetti sauce, stews, chicken enchiladas and the like. All dishes that are easy to transport.
The problem is that Ned doesn’t like onions. I put onions in almost every main dish I make!
His mother apparently responded to this dislike and never used onions in her cooking. Of course, I could omit the onions from the portions I give her family, but Serena wouldn’t find the dishes as palatable.
Also, both of their children might develop the same dislike, so leaving out onions would only perpetuate the problem.
Also, in my opinion, leaving out onions takes away from this family the opportunity to try new flavors.
do you have words of wisdom
– Stepmom cook from the Bay Area
Dear Chef: My basic reaction is – if you’re “helping out” here, I wonder what service you would be rendering if you were intentionally trying to disrespect someone.
I think it’s unkind to intentionally offer someone a food that contains an ingredient that you know will react to an adverse reaction (or just won’t eat) without giving them a chance to remove the ingredient.
Onions can make some people sick. They tend to add a strong flavor to foods, so if you just hate the taste of onions, it’s not like you can just eat around them.
It would be best to omit them from your cooked dishes — or add two versions of these dishes. Every time your son-in-law witnessed that thoughtfulness, he thought, “She remembered me!”
Is this “catering” for someone? Yes! If your stepdaughter had a similar dislike, wouldn’t you cater to it?
You don’t want someone’s dislike controlling your cooking, but another way of looking at it is: if you recognized this man’s challenge and would do your best to work around it, you would be showing this family that you are providing a service as a possibility to express your love and respect for each of them, not just the onion eaters.
You shouldn’t be responsible for (or worry about) these little kids’ pallets. That is their parents’ job.
Dear Amy: I’ve had a girlfriend for 13 years, but I’m wondering if I should break up with her.
We’re both in our late 30s and have been living together for about two years (living on different continents the rest of the time).
Due to some cultural differences, we cannot get married or disclose our relationship to our friends and family.
I’m wondering about this because I recently met someone from my own culture (she likes me and we could get married and live openly).
One problem is that this person is about 11 years younger than me.
I’m ashamed of my feelings for this new girl (I wasn’t cheating on my girlfriend, but I hid my relationship with this new person).
I keep thinking about my girlfriend. I think I should break up to make it easier for my girlfriend to find someone else, but I also think I’m creating problems for no reason.
I would really appreciate your advice.
Dear Torn: I’m trying to imagine the circumstances that would require you to essentially lead a completely secretive life. I assume that keeping this secret requires that you and your girlfriend constantly lie to your family, friends and co-workers.
I am assuming your love for one another is very strong, but based on your current concerns, you should have an open and honest conversation about the reality of your situation and whether this is the best way for you both to live.
I can’t tell you to break up. It’s obviously time you considered all the consequences of staying together, especially if you plan to have children.
Dear Amy: Regarding the recent conversation in your column about Barbies. I’ve loved barbies since I was a kid. I would make up stories with lots of roleplay. When my own daughter was little, I hesitated. But she wanted one so bad!
Her first Barbie was a Dr. Barbie.
Guess who will start medical school in August 2022?
– Proud mother
Dear Pride: I love it!
You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.