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Creating Food Together Is a Love Language in My Queer Relationship, No Matter the Distance

The magic of creamy pasta and fresh baked pretzels helps us stay connected

Jordyn Bradley

A year ago, my cooking capabilities extended to recipes involving ingredients like jarred pasta sauce and pre-cooked chicken. Homemade sauce seemed too tedious, and I was incredibly afraid of undercooked chicken and salmonella. A year ago, I was also teetering on the line of, “Do I like girls too, or am I confused?”

Fast forward to now, nearly all my meals are homemade — sauces and personally prepared chicken included — and I’m in the healthiest relationship of my life, which happens to be a queer one. Though these two things may not seem related, they are for me. 

The five love languages are quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service and receiving gifts. In my relationship, we’d argue for a sixth: cooking and eating food. My partner and I learned quickly that we are both somewhat picky eaters, but coincidentally, we share a dislike for many of the same things. My palate always prefers lots of cheese and carbs, and hers tends to favor protein. Our weekly menu, much like our relationship, is about compromise. One night, we might make my favorite creamy parmesan pasta, and the next might be the homemade chicken teriyaki and rice she always craves. We communicate clearly, from the things we are hungry for, to the ingredients we’d prefer to swap, and we divvy up the tasks of the recipe according to our strengths. She’s great at prep, and I find it mind-numbing. 

It was clear to me from the beginning of my relationship that it would be different from any other I’ve had, and not just because this is the first time my partner is also a woman. We also started as great friends, which was unique to my past relationships and added to my confusion a year ago when I was so sure I liked her but didn’t want to read too deep into a friendship. 

The first thing we made together as a couple was scratch-made soft pretzels. That seemed like a huge feat to me, but they turned out surprisingly good. We still talk about them. Then it spanned to her making me pancakes for breakfast, with a generous shake of cinnamon and a dash of vanilla to make them especially hers. Then we tackled full meals together. Taco nights with margaritas, DIY pizzas, all the pasta you could think of; even steaks and mashed potatoes riddled our weekly menus. Cooking with my girlfriend has opened my eyes to new pantry and fridge staples, and new ways to experience and feel love. Our relationship has kind of felt like falling in love for the first time too.

Pretzels
Our homemade pretzels. Photo: Jordyn Bradley

This relationship has brought up feelings and experiences unique to the other relationships I’ve been in. I rarely cooked with other partners; we’d instead spend half the day deciding where to go to dinner. I also never worried if the wrong eyes would see my former partners and me holding hands; we’d just hold hands. I didn’t consider whether my appearance and clothing choices portrayed me and my identity the “right” way. I didn’t worry there could be repercussions to telling someone about my partner or highlighting them on my social media. I’d just talk and post. I was never told it was a “phase” to like who I dated. 

Perhaps all this newness is what made this partnership feel like the first one. But I think it’s because it’s special. As queer people, it can be hard to find a safe space in a judgmental world. But even through navigating the newness and the loudness — of both the world and my thoughts — she has stayed. She’s my comfort person. Much like my favorite meal, I can always rely on her to give me what I need, and it’s usually just security.

We are now long-distance and cooking still plays a huge role in our relationship. We plan our grocery lists together over text and prepare meals — sometimes the same, sometimes different — over FaceTime. We watch recipe videos over FaceTime too, and send each other TikToks and Instagram Reels throughout our work days of potential meals to cook together, but separately. Cooking and eating together through a screen suffices for the time being. When we plan trips to see each other, though, we plan what we want to cook together before the other activities we want to do.

A long-distance cooking session. Photo: Jordyn Bradley
A long-distance cooking session. Photo: Jordyn Bradley

While spending time at home in Michigan over the holidays, the last thing I wanted to do was prepare food because my cooking partner was over 700 miles away in Connecticut. When we lived in the same city, cooking together always took priority. I never thought I’d be the person who prefers cooking at home to eating in a restaurant, but to me, it’s not about the food we’re eating: it’s about the dance break we will have between seasoning meat and chopping garlic. Or the subtle hip bumps and giggles while I wash dishes and she dries them. And even talking about how we can’t wait to cook breakfast together for our kids someday, and wondering if they will have similar tastes as us. Together, the mundane things have become my favorites.

I’ve realized that if you have the right person to do a task with, nothing is boring, and nothing is too far-fetched. I look back on the person I was a year ago and hope she’s proud of my newfound cooking capabilities and that I was honest with myself about who I am. Now, I’m the girl who makes homemade sauces and chicken. I’m still out here avoiding salmonella, always poking that chicken multiple times with a thermometer, but now I have a partner who never minds.

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