Man in the Kitchen: Short Order Cook in a Commuter Marriage

Man in the Kitchen: Short Order Cook in a Commuter Marriage

man in the kitchen

Ken Carlton: 
Ruminations on Food and Life

While I would never recommend divorce as the balm to a healthy relationship, there is a lot to be said about the second time around. For starters, it’s voluntary. No nagging age creep to push you into a hasty decision. The folks aren’t leaning on you to settle down. And more likely than not, your biological clock is not thumping like a tom-tom (and yes, that applies to men, too!)

My wife and I are five years into Chapter Two and lo and behold, it just keeps getting better. We share two homes, four kids and three dogs. Plus we live 800 air miles apart. We not only have achieved elite status on several airlines, but actually look forward to seeing each other! And speaking as an inveterate freelance writer, here is the best part. My wife makes more money than me. A lot more!

Some (okay, some guys!) call me a smart shopper. But I just call myself lucky. Why? Because not only do all the good parts look better when you mix a commuter relationship with the second time around, but you also learn the true meaning of the word “appreciation.”

ken carlton, man in the kitchen

Men hit on my wife whenever she travels on business. She’s smart, pretty and owns a Ph.D. Who wouldn’t? Do I get jealous? Nope. I get busy! Because the hidden truth about second chances is you get to earn it every day. Add in a successful traveling spouse and the world is your oyster.

Meeting her at her favorite cafe when she gets in late from a lousy week? Bonus points. Listening to her whine with her wine and really giving a damn? Apparently sexier than a bottle of Moët! But my favorite part of all is the kitchen ambush.

My wife will happily snarf down a bowl of breakfast cereal after a lousy day, and often that’s the right call. On the other hand, white tulips, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc and an unexpected midnight snack can be the start of something special in a modern relationship. Light and simple. From that, much goodness comes.

Midnight Meal Tuna Recipe

Ken Carlton tuna recipe
Photo © Ken Carlton


  • 1 tsp sesame oil, same for extra virgin
  • A shake or two of soy sauce
  • A plateful of hand-torn butter lettuce and some shallots or scallions, sea salt and black pepper


—Heat a small stick-free pan, hot to nearly smoking with the oil.

—Dry the tuna and apply sea salt and pepper, coating each side to taste.

—Sear two to three minutes per side. Crusty on the surface, red in the middle.

—Pluck from heat and let cool to firmness.

—Toss the lettuce with olive oil and a wink of soy. Adorn your prettiest plate with the greens.

—Slice the cooled fish against the grain and lay on top of salad.

Voila! Serve with light jazz, a soothing drink and perhaps a nice shoulder rub.

Get Ken Carlton's book on!

Food for Marriage: A Novel (English Edition)

Ken Carlton is founder and editor-in-chief of Beyondish, a food review and storytelling website. He is the author or ghostwriter of eight books, including the award-winning memoir, THE HUNGER, the story behind Greenwich Village’s celebrity hotspot, The Waverly Inn. Ken wrote the "His Point of View" column for Cosmopolitan and appeared as a dating expert on OPRAH. He still muses about food, relationships and parenting at his website, Food for Marriage. A New Yorker and Parisian at heart, he has scripted conferences in Paris for CNN and Fortune magazine. Ken and his wife, a professor, split their time between Brooklyn, NY and Chicago. You can follow him on Instagram @foodformarriage



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