Men are, in many ways, simple creatures. Our two greatest desires in life are, without question, women and food.
While a tasty meal or a good-looking lass with a nice personality are both things to be thankful for on their own, it’s hard to top the bliss that comes from eating a home-cooked meal made by the girl you like. Still, just as guys have preferences in women, they’ve also got preferences in food, as revealed in a poll that asked Japanese men what dish prepared by their girlfriend makes them the happiest.
Internet portal My Navi Women surveyed 114 men, all out of college and between the ages of 22 and 39. Let’s take a look at the top 10.
10. Stew – 14.9 percent
While in English “stew” can refer to just about any hearty soup, in Japan it almost always indicates a creamy white sauce broth with carrots, potatoes, chicken, and other assorted vegetables.
8 (tie). Nimono – 15.8 percent
Coming from the Japanese verb niru, meaning to stew, nimono is a catch-all term for any dish of stewed vegetables, meat, or fish. Daikon radish is a popular nimono standby, but the linguistic loophole means that just about any ingredient can be used.
8 (tie). Gratin – 15.8 percent
One of Japan’s favorite Western-inspired dishes, gratin is made by baking a pan of pasta, white sauce, cheese, and just about anything else you care to add.
7. Ginger pork – 19.3 percent
Japanese cooking usually doesn’t go as heavy in the ginger as man other Asian cuisines do. Ginger pork is an exception, though, and the thin strips of meat are often cooked along with sliced onion for extra flavor.
6. Karaage – 21.1 percent
Also known as Japanese-style fried chicken, karaage can be seasoned with garlic, salt, soy sauce, and/or ginger.
5. Miso soup – 25.4 percent
Right on the heels of the decadently high-calorie karaage come this low-key, health-conscious choice. While it’s an ubiquitous part of a traditional Japanese meal, every household makes their miso soup a little differently, and this atmosphere of at-home intimacy is probably why it ranks so high on the list. Plus, there’s the fact that the line “I want to have your miso soup” is a very old-school, very-indirect way of proposing marriage.
4. Rice omelet – 28.9 percent
Another mix of Japanese and Western culinary sensibilities, the rice inside is usually seasoned with ketchup, and mixed with pieces of chicken and mushroom. Extra credit if you draw a heart in ketchup on top, and even more points if you write your and your boyfriend’s name beside it.
3. Nikujaga – 29.8 percent
Technically, nikujaga, being a bowl of stewed pork, potatoes, carrots, and onions, falls under the nimono category we talked about above. This is such an iconic combination, though, that it gets its own special name, not to mention a special place in the heart of many a simple, old-fashioned guy. What else would you expect from a dish with a name that literally means “meat and potatoes?”
2. Hamburger steak – 32.5 percent
It’s basically a hamburger, but without a bun getting in the way of its meaty purity. Most ground beef sold in Japanese grocery stores is a mix of beef and pork, so this even has the added appeal of letting your carnivorous guy devour two animals at once.
1. Curry – 41.2 percent
With tasty curry restaurants dotting the Japanese restaurant landscape, it might seem a little surprising to see curry and rice not only top the list, but do it in such an overwhelming fashion. Don’t underestimate the power of home-cooked curry though. Like miso soup, different chefs tend to add their own unique ingredients, be it seafood, two different brands of roux, or even a whole bar of chocolate.
Having your girlfriend make a batch of curry also has a number of unique upsides. In general, it’s just as easy to make a whole pot as a single serving, so a guy can usually look forward to leftovers the next day. Speaking of which, like spaghetti sauce, the taste of curry goes through subtle transformations even after it’s done cooking, which means there’s a new flavor to enjoy when digging into a plate of leftovers.
Perhaps most appealing of all is the timing involved in cooking curry. In the beginning, there’s a lot of prep work that needs to be done, what with peeling the potatoes, slicing the carrots, and setting the rice cooker. Once you’ve got everything in the pot, though, there’s a long period of simmering to wait through, which gives the loving couple ample time to…discuss classical literature. Or, you know, whatever couples do when they’re alone with some time to kill.
Just remember, guys: Common courtesy dictates that if a girl cooks dinner for you, it’s your job to wash the dishes, regardless of whether or not the menu matches up with this list.