Our expert recommends a book of essays and recipes—including, of course, beer-can chicken—and a stylish accessory
Q. A reader in Washington asks: When I was growing up I gave my dad a Father's Day present, but my mother certainly didn't. Now, though, my husband gives me a Mother's Day gift, so I have to get him a present too. He doesn't cook, or not as much as I'd like him to given that we've got two boys. So I'm not looking for a gadget, even though he does like design. Something to get him more interested in going into the kitchen on a weeknight? I admit: I don't get the custom of giving your spouse a gift that's supposed to come from your child. But maybe your own children aren't old enough to think of making something endearingly misshapen, and anyway this gives you an excuse to get a pointed gift--one that's a little subtler than the vacuum cleaners I've heard friends say, still incredulously, they've gotten from spouses. So, two ideas, one kitchen-related but not too directive, and one very far from a vacuum cleaner, or even from a cooking tool that, however nicely designed, says, "Get back where I need you to be."
The obvious gift for your reluctant-cook husband is Man With a Pan, a book of wonderfully written essays edited by John Donohue, a New Yorker editor (like a recent Talk of the Town piece? Thank him, I say as an editor) and cartoonist and enthusiastic cook. His own blog, Stay At Stove Dad, is full of recipes and accounts of cooking for his wife and two daughters—and, often, with his friends, who include pretty much everyone cool and interested in food and writing in New York City, by which I of course mean Brooklyn. Compiling an anthology on the same subject must have seemed a natural next step, though as someone who has done similar work I can say I'm sure it wasn't a very easy one.