One True Thing

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New Yorker Cartoonist John Donohue: Man with a Pan

Collection of essays on cooking and fatherhood.

John Donohue, a cartoonist and editor of "Goings On About Town" for The New Yorker, and blogger (Stay at Stove Dad) has put together a tasty collection of essays and recipes written by an impressive assortment of celebrity chefs and authors, as well as average dad from across the country. In all, there are more than 60 family-tested recipes, including Mario Batali recipe for monkfish and foie gras that he swears kids will gobble up, and Stephen King's suggestions for what to cook when you don't feel like cooking anything at all. Here's more from John about Man with a Pan:

Jennifer Haupt: What prompted you to put together a collection of essays about fathers who cook for their families?

John Donohue: When I first became a father, about six years ago, I responded to the usual excitement and panic of becoming a new parent by starting to cook. I had always loved food, but something about having a newborn in the house drove me straight to the kitchen. I looked around and noticed that a number of my male friends who had recently become fathers were doing the same thing. Because I work in publishing, many of my friends happened to be writers, and I thought it would be interesting to hear their stories about how they handled cooking for the family.

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JH: You say that men who cook for their families are happier. In your experience, why is that?

JD: I love food, and I love to eat. I've always been hungry, and I have a high metabolism. If I'm hungry, I'm unhappy. When I cook, I get to eat, and my mood improves. My children are the same way, and my wife too. Also, there are studies documenting a curious thing about men and housework. In couples where the man does it, there is a higher level of reported sexual satisfaction in the couple than among those where the man doesn't help around the house. Cooking, in my mind, counts as housework.

JH: I've always found cooking for my children highly unsatisfying. How do you get your kids to eat what you cook even if it doesn't involve pasta or hamburger meat?

JD: Yes, cooking for one's children can be humbling. I once made pizza from scratch, and they rejected it. That's almost an accomplishment, getting kids NOT to eat pizza. I'm fortunate in that my children have fairly broad tastes. I've always served them adult food, so they are used to it. They don't even know that string cheese exists.

My favorite thing to cook is Bolognese sauce. It takes a long time, but most of that time does not involve active labor. My kids love it, and I don't think I'll ever tire of eating it. It freezes well, and makes for a quick weeknight dinner that is increadibly delicious and satisfying.

JH: What might people be surprised to learn is always in your refrigerator?

JD: Kale. I know some people who are scared of the vegetable, but I keep finding ways to make it tasty. My latest is to chiffonade it and serve it raw, dressed with olive oil, salt, and lime juice. My favorite way to cook it is to cut it the same way, sauté it briefly, and serve with toasted pine nuts, finely grated parmesan, olive oil, and lemon. I ate this once at the New York City restaurant Prune, and went home and made it myself.

JH: What's the one true thing you know that's different about men who cook than women who cook?

JD: I don't think there's any one thing that separates them, but I have noticed that most men don't bake, and many women do.

Cartoonist and writer John Donohue, an editor at The New Yorker, has been passionate about food all his life. He worked at a retail fish market when he was in college and was a short-order cook after graduation. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two daughters. He blogs about the cooking he does for his family at



Jennifer Haupt is a writer based in Seattle, Washington. She has written for O, The Oprah Magazine, Readers Digest, and The Christian Science Monitor.


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