I Want What They Have: Ina and Jeffrey Garten

It’s not often that I fantasize about being married to a man, but when I do, the vision of him in my head is curiously specific; he’s curly-haired, jovial, and always down to eat something delicious that I’ve cooked while offering absolutely no negative feedback of any kind on the flavor profile (and, of course, cleaning the kitchen thoroughly when I’m done). Oh, and also, he’s away a lot. In other words, my dream husband is quite literally Jeffrey Garten, which renders me semi-out-of-luck, as he is quite notably taken by Ina.

I’m not the first or only person to marvel at the majesty of Ina and Jeffrey Garten’s marriage; a 2011 episode of 30 Rock guest-starred Ina as protagonist Liz’s role model, appealing to her in part because “her husband only comes home on the weekends, and she spends the rest of the time drinking and cooking with her gay friends.” (I mean…literally ideal.)

In real life, the Gartens met at Dartmouth College in 1963, when Jeffrey was there as a student and Ina was visiting her older brother. “Look at that girl, isn’t she beautiful?” Jeffrey told his roommate at the time after spotting Ina through a library window, and thus, the world’s most food-centric romance was born. Their first date was beautifully awkward (she was underage and got ID-ed, and they ended up relocating to a coffee shop), and they were married in 1968, with Jeffrey pushing Ina to pursue her love of food professionally instead of just cooking for him. Is it dusty in here, or am I full-on sobbing at this show of support?

In case you were questioning Ina’s commitment, all you really need to know is that one of her most popular cookbooks is called Cooking for Jeffrey, and I don’t care if it’s retrograde of me or calls my feminist credentials into question; I am still capable of being moved by a wife just loving her husband so damn much that she has to preserve all of his little likes and dislikes for posterity. This is cute to me only because Jeffrey is so clearly and overwhelmingly in Ina’s corner, and I would fully find it barf-worthy if he were one of those stereotypical sexist boomer husbands more concerned with eating a “proper dinner” than cheering on his wife, but still.

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