How to Cook a Spouse

Contrary to how this looks, Rick made this crazy face for a pic, while I tried to straighten him out! Honest!

Close to our forty-first wedding anniversary, it seemed appropriate to bring back a favourite recipe – one that shows how some Victorians approached marriage. In the late 1800’s a variety of cookbooks included this recipe, submitted anonymously, although one of them stated that it had been “contributed by a lady, presumably of experience.”

If followed well, and adapted for our time, the tongue-in-cheek instructions below may decrease today’s divorce rates – provided they were used on both spouses.


“A good many husbands are spoiled by mismanagement. Some keep them constantly in hot water; others let them freeze by their carelessness and indiffer­ence; some keep them in a stew by irritating ways and words. Others roast them. Some keep them in a pickle all their lives. It cannot be supposed that any husband will be tender and good managed in this way; but they are really delicious when properly treated.

“In selecting your husband you should not be guided by the silvery appearance, as in buying mackerel; nor by golden tint, as if you wanted salmon. Be sure and select him yourself, as tastes differ. Do not go to the market for him, as the best are always brought to your door. It is far better to have none at all, unless you will particularly learn how to cook him.

“A preserving kettle of the finest porcelain is best, but if you have nothing but an earthen pipkin, it will do with care. See that the linen in which you wrap him is nicely washed and mended, with the required number of buttons and strings nicely sewed in. Tie him in the kettle by a strong silk cord, called comfort, as the one called duty is apt to be weak. They are apt to fly out of the kettle and get burned and crusty on the edges; since, like crabs and lobsters, you have to cook them while alive.

“Make a clear, steady fire out of love, neatness and cheerful­ness; set him as near as seems to agree with him. If he sputters and sizzles, do not be anxious; some husbands do this until they are quite done.

“Add a little sugar in the form of what confectioners call kisses, but no vinegar or pepper on any account. A little spice improves them, but it must be used with judgment.

“Don’t stick any sharp instru­ments into him to see if he is done or becoming tender. Stir him gently, watch all the while, lest he lies too flat and close to the kettle and so becomes useless.

“You cannot fail to know when he is done.

“If thus treated, you will find him very digestible, agreeing nicely with you and the children. And he will keep as long as you want, unless you become careless and set him in too cold a place.”

I can’t say that Rick and I have followed all those instructions, but somehow, in spite of ourselves, God got us to forty-one years. Only with his help do we still find each other, not merely “digestible”, but “tender, good, and delicious.”

Back to Top