I used to write a yearly column assuring readers that, while we men can’t say what women want, we dads on Father’s Day are easy. We want red meat and red wine.
That was then.
Now men are more sophisticated. More evolved. We can do more than etch grill marks on a steak. We’re just as likely as Mom to whip up a nifty Coquilles St. Jacques.
It’s documented. The percentage of men who cook on any given day jumped from 29 percent in 1965 to 42 percent in 2008, according to a survey at the University of North Carolina. Meanwhile, the percentage of women who cook daily dropped from 92 percent to 68 percent in that time.
Figure in, too, the explosion of TV cooking shows, especially equal opportunity competitions from Iron Chef to Chopped, that tell us cooking is adequately macho for our egos (not that we needed that, of course).
Today we have dozens of reassuring male culinary mentors — Emeril Lagasse, Alton Brown, Mario Batali, Ming Tsai, Rick Bayless. We accept cooking as a challenge at least as masculine as fantasy football.
So for this Father’s Day, we dads want you to recognize this, to give us this challenge. We want you to hand us a recipe from one of our cooking idols. Some dishes are named below, and you can Google their recipes. And we want you to gift us the wine to go with it.
It can be work-a-day fare like Alton Brown’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese. And a bottle of fat, oaky California chardonnay.
Or Emeril’s classic New Orleans Seafood Gumbo, with crab, shrimp and red snapper simmered in that city’s hallowed Cajun mirepoix cooking base of onions, green bell peppers and celery, with a soupcon of cayenne pepper. And a soft and sweet red wine, maybe an Australian shiraz.
Or a recipe by Mexico-centric, Chicago-based chef Bayless for Duck Carnitas — duck legs with garlic and Mexican oregano fried in pork lard. And a bottle of rich, dark merlot.
Now add Asian fusion chef Tsai’s Orange Squab with Fennel, Carrots and Orange-Star Anise Syrup. We dads can whip up this in an hour. And a light red wine like Chianti.
Maybe next an intricate recipe from Eric Ripert, of Manhattan’s hallowed Le Bernardin restaurant — yes, the one with the $205 chef’s tasting menu. Perhaps his Octopus with Black Bean/Pear Sauce. Ripert’s wine steward suggests pairing it with a spicy white gewurztraminer.
I don’t mean to suggest we men are getting hoity-toity. You could give us the recipes for two perennial Midwest state fair midway delicacies — corn dogs and breaded, deep-fried pickles. And the perfect wine match — inexpensive sparkling wine.
Finally, a Super Bowl staple recipe like chocolate-covered bacon. And a bottle of cabernet sauvignon. Chocolate and dark red wine make up a classic food-wine match. And bacon goes with everything.
Wives, do this for us and we will be happy. In the words of etiquette maven Emily Post: “Women accepted cooking as a chore; man has made of it a recreation.”
▪ 2014 Gundlach Bundschu Gewurztraminer, Estate Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, Calif.: orange blossom aromas, spicy lemon and ginger flavors, mineral finish (100 percent gewurztraminer); $22.
▪ 2013 Columbia Winery Merlot, Columbia Valley, Wash. (87 percent merlot, 11 percent syrah, 2 percent malbec): hint of oak, aromas and flavors of black cherries and black pepper, crisp and rich; $17.
▪ 2013 Edna Valley Vineyard “Heritage” Chardonnay, San Luis Obispo, Calif. (100 percent chardonnay): full-bodied and rich, with aromas and flavors of ripe pineapples, oranges and butterscotch, long finish; $30.
▪ 2014 Alcance Cabernet Sauvignon, Maule and Maipo, Chile (100 percent cabernet sauvignon): deep purple hue, aromas and flavors of black cherries and black raspberries, rich, long finish; $24.
▪ 2012 Cecchi Chianti Classico, Italy (sangiovese): ruby hue, aromas and flavors of tart cherries and spice, soft tannins, smooth; $22.
▪ Nonvintage Codorniu Brut Cava sparkling wine (macabeo, xarel-lo, parellada grapes) Spain: lots of tiny bubbles, crisp, with flavors of limes and green apples; $10.
▪ 2013 Pillar Box Red Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon, Padthaway, Australia: aromas and flavors of anise and black plums, mellow tannins, long, bittersweet chocolate finish; $15.
▪ 2014 Francis Coppola “Director’s” Chardonnay, Sonoma County (100 percent chardonnay): floral aromas, rich and full-bodied, flavors of ripe peaches and caramel, spicy finish; $21.
▪ 2013 Liberated Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, Calif. (80 percent cabernet sauvignon, 15 percent merlot, 5 percent cabernet franc): dark purple hue, flavors of black cherries, spices and mocha, soft tannins; $17.