The Cook

Vincent Francone finds pleasure and pride in his mastery of the domestic arts. So does his wife.

Without a doubt, things have changed.

My parents married for reasons I cannot fathom. It is impossible for me to imagine them together. They separated when I was five, divorced when I was six. If asked, most will say that this was the best thing that could have happened to them, me, my brother, and, by extension, the world, assuming one believes in the idea that everyone is connected to all other things.

A quick story about my parents: when they were married, my mother—a terrible cook at the time—made my father pork chops. They were not to his liking. He made this clear by throwing them into the garbage after two bites. He did not bother with the side dishes. Instead he asked her to bake a frozen pizza, suspecting that this would be within her range of skills.

He was wrong. Never a patient women, she neglected the instructions and placed the pizza in the oven without removing the plastic or cardboard. The smoke alerted them to the impending danger and they were able to quell the fire, though not the one smoldering within each of them.

Growing up with these stories, and with a mother who only managed to become a good cook around the time I was ready to move out on my own, I learned to fend for myself. I was a latchkey kid anyway, used to making my own meals.  I never minded, but I will admit that I was thrilled to meet my wife who, when we met, wowed me with her own culinary skills.

She is a Latina and thus was able to instruct me on the proper method for warming tortillas, making sopa, mashing avocados, and mincing onions. Under her guidance, I have gotten quite good at making mole, so much so that one of my impromptu meals prompted her to exclaim, “This place smells like a Mexican kitchen!” I considered this a success and rewarded myself with an extra helping of food.

Now she is in grad school. And she works. When she is home, she busies herself with her studies. And when she is done studying, she watches TV, thankful for some downtime.

I get home hungry and cranky, go to the kitchen and make dinner. I have done this for the last two years and will have to for at least as many more, if not longer (grad school can take a while). My sopa is exquisite; my huevos con tortilla sublime. My guacamole rivals any you’ll ever find.

My wife is thrilled. She is busy but well fed. And if the meal is not to her liking, I make her something else. She has done a good job training me. I even wash the dishes after dinner and take out the trash. Recently, I have gotten pretty good at doing laundry and actually sort the darks from lights and consider the temperature of the water before running a load.

Somewhere in the ether of time and space, my twenty-one year old father is laughing at me.


Read more Best Meal Ever stories on The Good Life.

Image credit: inakihuarte/Flickr

About Vincent Francone

Vincent Francone is a writer living in Chicago.  He has been published in Rhino, Spectrum, and other print and web journals and won 1st place in the 2009 Illinois Emerging Writers Competition.  He publishes book reviews on Three Percent and occasionally updates his blog.


  1. Thanks, Hunter.

    My old man ended up becoming quite a good cook himself. He mellowed a lot as I got older and now makes a mean pot of red sauce. Time changes all of us.



  2. Hunter @Green Detective says:

    Bravo for finding your Mojo in the kitchen. A family that cooks together, stays together.

    Not all 50’s Dads missed out, as family nurturers. Mine was Mr. Mom for family of 10. Don’t worry about gourmet production, any meal with heart is a gift, especially when cleaning up afterwards.

    Kiss the Cook!

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