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So Your Spouse Wants To Bring Sushi Casserole To The Party

So Your Spouse Wants To Bring Sushi Casserole To The Party
From Deadspin - September 8, 2017

What do you do if your spouse, an amateur and not very skilled cook, makes a disgusting and possibly lethal sushi casserole and sets his or her heart on bringing it to and serving it at a large, fancy social event, where it almost certainly will meet with humiliating public rejection?

This was the Spousal Tactics discussion touched off in our internal staff chat today by a sad, awful, and extremely funny r/relationships post from a Redditor whose wife had done just that. I will give you a summary of the post in a second, but I urge you to click the link and read the entire thing; its not very long, and it includes a lot of nuance and (I think) implied backstory that will help you form your own Spousal Tactics theories.

In summary: Husband and Wife have been invited to a fancy, well-attended, and catered Labor Day potluck (i.e. a party that will have professionally-made foods but to which guests are welcome to bring their signature dishes if they want to show off). Wife decides to make and bring a sushi casserole she saw online but never has made before; botches it like six different ways; and winds up with a very gross-looking mess that almost certainly is not safe for eating. Husband and Wife have a fight beforehand when he tells her the food looks disgusting and she lashes out at him for food snobbery and for more generally not being a supportive partner. She brings the food to the party; nobody eats it; its the only thing nobody eats; Wife is humiliated and angry; Husbands (lame, too-late) attempts at consolation only make her feel worse; and now shes barely talking to him.

So the question we kicked around is, what could Husband have done differently? This is a much thornier question than what Wife could have done differently: The very easy answer to that question is Not make a gross nightmare botulism pile, or at least not bring the gross nightmare botulism pile to a large party full of strangers who of course will reject the gross nightmare botulism pile. But the Husband definitelyf**ked up, too! He had many, many opportunities to avert disaster, and he fumbled all of them.

The thing is, this really isnt a fight about a gross sushi casserole. Of course it isnt! The giveaway is here (emphasis mine, everything sicd):

Well, when it was done it honestly, and I mean HONESTLY, looked like a tray of vomit. The mushed up avocado (which had gone slightly brown) plus reddish fish plus scattered rice and watery mayo made it look exactly like a big tray of puke. I was frank and told her the sushi casserole looks seriously gross and that sushi shouldnt even be in casserole/lasagna/burger/cake or whatever else buzzfeed comes up with that week to begin with. I thought we were both on the same page at that point and she would laugh and throw the monstrosity away, but she got extremely mad at me.

She told me I NEVER like the food she makes and Im never supportive. She also brought up the fact that just because I had traveled more than she has and eaten at far more fancy restaurants than she, it doesnt mean I can be such a food snob. I told her that dish had nothing to do with trips to Japan or 3 Michelin star dinners; it was just a bad dish, period.

This was the clue! The fight is about stuff that goes deeper than the sushi casserole! At the very least the fight is about Wife feeling like, instead of recognizing her insecurity (in this case, about her cooking and her relative dearth of travel/fine-dining experience) and working to shore her up emotionally or at least showing that he values her (valiant, in this case misguided) attempts at expanding her repertoire, Husband seems to approach her not as her partner but from a position of authority, as The Only Good Food Knower Around Here, The Guy Qualified By Virtue Of His Greater Sophistication To Render A Valid Opinion On This, and how this makes her feel lonely and unsupported. Shes in the trenches, and hes standing next to the trench, looking down into the trench, and going, Im sorry, but that trench is trash. No offense.

The important thing, here, is this: It really, violently doesnt matter whether Husband feels like he can make a case for that being an inaccurate description of what hes doing. All his No, your perception is bad, actually this has nothing to do with my vastly greater experience of quality food, the food you made is just Objectively Bad and any fool can see it take can do is make things a million times worse, because categorically it belongs to a whole other conversation. He is not an Iron Chef judge. He is a spousea partner. The conversation is about partnership and emotional well-being; trying to pretend it is a conversation about The Hard Facts Of Culinary Execution just widens the gap between the two of them.

(This is why the lame, after-the-fact attempt at fixing thingsSo we got back home and I tell her not to worry too much and that there was just too much food overall which is why hers wasnt as popularnot only doesnt fix things butf**ks them up even more. The time to handle Wifes emotions with delicate care was like 65 exits ago, man! He cant be like Oh well Im sure its just because everybody was super-duper into the deviled eggs when just like two days earlier he was telling her that her dish was a revolting horror no one would want to eat. Hed already proved the point he never should have been making; all the display of patronizing grace amounts to is going for the two-point conversion. But he wasnt supposed to be trying to score on her in the first place!)

So. Husbandf**ked it up. But what should you do when your spouse decides to make a very bad and gross sushi casserole and bring it to a big party where nobody will want to eat it? A firm grasp and timely application of even Beginner Spousal Tactics could have prevented even that first fight from ever happening in the first place.

Beginner Spousal Tactics

The Beginner Spousal Tactic, when your spouse decides to make and serve to many strangers a sushi casserole that, realistically, is far beyond their culinary skill, is to offer your enthusiastic, un-begrudging help in making it. Oooh, sushi casserole! the Beginner Spouse says. That sounds intimidating, but it could be great! Youreambitious and brave! Lets make it together!

It probably will still bes**t. Nobody will want to eat it! Probably nobody should ever make sushi casserole, period, including actual sushi chefs who are qualified to prepare sushi rice and judge and prepare sushi-grade fish. But you will own the failure together; you will be able to share knowing grimaces and laughter about the time you made sushi casserole for a fancy catered party and nobody ate it. It will be a warm memory of something you shared, a time you were in thes**t together, rather than a bitter memory of a time (hopefully the only time) you humiliated your spouse for the even more humiliating reason of preventing your spouse from self-humiliation, and then they self-humiliated anyway, and then you heaped on some extra humiliation for the sake of a deeply insincere performance of its not so bad.

This is pretty basic committed partners**t. If a grenade lands next to your partner and you dive away from them, instead of toward them, you were never really committed, yknow? There was a limit to your commitment. I am your partner right up until youre about to get blown up, is what you have said. Then you are on your own. (I hear you going But theyre the one who dropped the grenade. Well, so what? Did you just meet them yesterday? Or did you freely and of your own choice choose to marry the whole entire person whose insecurities and ambitions and peccadillos might eventually birth the idea that dropping a grenade on the floor next to where they were standing would be dope and rad? In for a penny, in for a pound,motherf****r!)

But, maybe Beginner Spousal Tactics are not enough for you. Maybe you are determined to avoid serving this extremely bad and gross foodstuff at the party, but you also have the bare-minimum wits to recognize that going Actually, my dear, the food you worked to make and (foolishly) invested with your ambition to get better at cooking is nauseating trash and if you serve it everyone will be disgusted probably is not the best way to go about things. Well, that is why the hell they invented Elementary Spousal Tactics.

Elementary Spousal Tactics

The Elementary Spousal Tactic is as follows:

You: Wow, sushi casserole? That looks good as hell. In fact, I dont want to wait for the party, lets make sushi casserole tomorrow night, together, so that I can house six pounds of sushi casserole, to slake my great, sudden, and irresistible lust for sushi casserole, a thing I definitely want to eat.

Intermediate Spousal Tactics

Proficient Spousal Tactics

Absolutist Spousal Tactics For Morons And Post-Humans Whose Marriages Probably Will Not Last

Advanced Spousal Tactics

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