Roast Chicken for Two, a Recipe
Step 1: Preheat your oven. Step 2: Wash chicken. Step 3: Have sex with your partner.
In my prekid days, I lived with my wife in a shaded little bungalow in Palm Beach, Fla. The evenings were balmy, and I thought nothing of getting dinner rolling, then coaxing my wife into a little preprandial fling. What better way could there have been to pass the time while the charcoal turned to burger-searing embers? There was no better appetizer, and the meal afterward was remarkably satisfying. The conversation that followed had an uncommon ease.
Now that I'm a parent, the evenings are filled with something more than warm breezes. Family life can feel like a gale-force event. Forget creatively trying to pass the time. Just sitting down to dinner seems to eat up the clock. But not long ago, on a tear on my blog about the way food companies try to convince us that cooking is too hard to do on our own and that we're too stupid to succeed, I dashed off a recipe that included a hard-earned suggestion. I had learned by now that to recapture and maintain the excitement of my relationship takes planning. In this case, though, not much. With a little invention, a simple roast chicken—one of the great staples of cooking life—becomes something entirely new.
Roast Chicken for Two
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 425˚F or, if you have ventilation, 450˚F, and use convection heat if it's available.
Step 2: Wash and pat dry a 3- to 4-pound chicken. Truss it if you know how, or stuff 2 lemon halves in its cavity. Season it aggressively with kosher or sea salt (it should have a nice crust of salt). Put it in a skillet and slide it into the hot oven.
Step 3: Have sex with your partner. (This can require planning, occasionally some conniving. But as cooks tend to be resourceful and seductive by nature, most find that it's not the most difficult part of the recipe.)
Step 4: Remove the chicken from the oven after it's cooked for 1 hour, allow it to rest for 15 minutes, and serve.
Properly executed, such a dish is extraordinary—economical, satisfying, not overly caloric, fun to prepare (in fact, worth making simply to pursue Step 3), and potentially a valuable recipe in your weekly cooking routine.
I'm not speaking with tongue in cheek. I'm actually—strongly and earnestly—recommending you make sex a part of the routine of cooking. My idea proved very popular; it was gleefully retweeted. Perhaps it is a novel idea, though I daresay it received attention only because of our lack of imagination and the general prudery embedded in the American psyche. One commenter, apparently quite enthralled by the notion, has gone so far as to pair specific sexual acts with specific cooking techniques on a blog (a little on the obsessive-compulsive side, but nothing to fault).
Perhaps people have been so quick to embrace this idea because they sense it is both a literal and a figurative expression of important, possibly universal truths: that the act of cooking and the act of nonreproductive sex share similar traits and have similar results. Cooking, like sex, is good for your marriage.
Humans are the only animals to cook their food, and aside, perhaps, from the bonobos deep in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we are the only animal that has sex for fun. Virtually every other behavior we engage in can be found in our cousins lower down the food chain. Examples abound in the natural world of primates who express emotions, use language, act aggressively among themselves, show sympathy, and even exhibit what behavioral psychologists call theory of mind—that is, are aware of another animal's consciousness and possible motives and actions.
Humans are animals, so it is not a surprise that nothing we do or express isn't also done or expressed elsewhere in the animal kingdom. Cooking—and having sex for fun–is what makes us human.
To deny ourselves either diminishes the creatures that we are, and to practice both with greater frequency and competency deepens our humanity, which leads to a more fulfilling life. All good things. Roast chicken and sex: They're good for you!
Michael Ruhlman is the author of nine nonfiction books. His most recent is Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking.
Illustration by Alex Eben Meyer.