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Girl Dinner

Updated: Feb 9

My Girl Dinner the other night. "Real" Kraft Mac & Cheese

I’m going to tell you something that I don’t usually speak of in polite company: Mr. Hockey can spatchcock a chicken.

I shouldn’t publicize our spousal secrets, but I worry that many of you have somehow gotten the impression that Mr. Hockey is all about one thing. Golf.

I get it. You probably got the golf idea from his name.

Mr. Hockey does love golf, but he also loves hockey. He likes playing hockey, watching hockey, reading hockey articles, listening to hockey podcasts, and participating in hockey fantasy leagues. See? He’s so much more than golf.

And he’s a spatchcocker. I’m not just saying it because this is a humor column and spatchcock is an objectively funny word. Mr. Hockey contains multitudes.

           For those who were wondering, spatchcocking is cutting the spine out of a chicken to cook it on a roasting pan butterflied or flat. Not to get all Barefoot Contessa on you, but spatchcocking allows the chicken to cook more evenly, quickly, and crisply. It’s a good skill for any golf and hockey enthusiast to have.

           I never learned to spatchcock a chicken. Why should I? I married a guy who does. Not to get all Ann Landers on you, but if you can find a life partner who can spatchcock a chicken, you’ll be set.

Unless you’re vegetarian.

Mr. Hockey spatchcocks at will. He just whips out his poultry shears, cuts the chicken, splays it on the roasting pan, and shoves it in the oven. Not to get all my 10th grade French teacher Monsieur La Croix on you, but voilà! In 90 minutes, I’m eating a delicious, crispy chicken!

When a guy spatchcocks on a random Tuesday night, what does he do the rest of the week? Here’s another connubial confidentiality: I don’t cook many of our dinners.

This thrills me because I’m a full-on nihilist about dinner. The never-ending cycle of meal planning – choosing the meal, shopping, cooking, eating, and cleaning, only to do it all over again tomorrow – is Sisyphean. Not to get all Friedrich Nietzsche on you, but what is the point?

There are some nights when Mr. Hockey has a hockey-related activity and I’m left to my own dinner devices. On those nights, I make the easiest thing I can throw down my piehole. 

My go-to meal is usually pasta with Parmesan. Twenty minutes to make, ten minutes to eat, and because there’s only a pot, strainer, bowl and fork, three minutes to clean.

Frozen pasta takes less time and there’s even less to clean. If I’m lucky, and there’s no spillage of a rogue rotini, I can avoid wiping down the counters.

The whole point is to get dinner over with so I can watch my girlie television shows. I shouldn’t keep telling these nuptial nuggets, but Mr. Hockey hates Mrs. Maisel.

Sometimes I have Kraft Mac & Cheese. Annie’s Mac & Cheese is too wholesome for me. They claim they’re healthy because they use real cheese. Call me old fashioned, but I like my boxed mac & cheese fake. If it doesn’t have day-glow orange powder in it, why bother?

Not to get all Barefoot Contessa on you (again), but if you want real cheese, try making the Barefoot Contessa’s mac & cheese – she uses Gruyere and cheddar. And it’s Gouda.

Aren’t cheese puns grate?

My day-glow orange mac & cheese on Mr. Hockey’s hockey nights is known as Girl Dinner: a meal eaten by women when they are only responsible for feeding themselves – a rare event for most women.

Girl Dinner was all the talk last summer. There were articles, TikToks, and morning show segments regaling curated plates of salami, olives, bread, and feta. Girls love feta. It’s the GOAT.

The Girl Dinner mania made it seem like it was a new trend, in which only young ladies partake. After all, they didn’t call it Woman Dinner. Not to get all Grandma Moses on you, but we women of a certain age have been scarfing down Triscuits and Boursin at the kitchen counter since before those TikTokkers were born.

I even asked some similarly aged friends if they have Girl Dinners. One friend eats cheese, crackers, olives, grapes, and pretzels. Another eats pasta or a sandwich. The third has cereal or scrambled eggs. That friend punctuated her response with “I love it when Mr. Bike goes out!”

You’re probably thinking, gosh Tracy, why are you talking about Girl Dinner six months after everyone else? I could have used this time to discuss how Greta Gerwig was snubbed for the Best Director Oscar nomination. Or how people complain when Taylor Swift goes to a football game. Or that women in Ohio can be arrested for having a miscarriage.

I should always be talking about the hypocrisy, misogyny, and sheer callousness we witness in the world. There are too many reminders that women even famous women like Greta Gerwig and Taylor Swift don’t always have it easy.

But I’m a humor writer and wine glass half-full girl. I prefer to write about the lighter things like plates full of hors d’oeuvres, cheese puns, and the fact that E. Jean Carroll just won her defamation lawsuit to the tune of 83 million dollars.

I also like to think about how Mr. Hockey can spatchcock. All. Day. Long.

But that’s not something I discuss in polite company.

Published in The East Hampton Press on February 8, 2024

Photo by ME!!

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