Relationships

I Tried It: The #1 Rom-Com Courting Move

I Tried It: The #1 Rom-Com Courting Move

There’s a movie scene I’ve thought about since I was 13…

Have you seen the 1986 movie Heartburn? In the opening act, Rachel (Meryl Streep) and Mark (Jack Nicholson) lock eyes before taking their seats at a wedding. During the reception they finally meet. They banter. They make each other laugh. They kiss under a glowing movie marquee. Music plays.

AND THEN.

Six minutes and 12 seconds in, Rachel rounds the corner of her bedroom wearing a robe and holding a platter of homemade spaghetti carbonara with two spoons and two forks. Nestled in periwinkle sheets, Mark turns to her and says, “So, you just go in the kitchen at four in the morning, and you come back out with this. This is the best spaghetti carbonara I’ve ever had.”

“You probably think I do this for everybody,” Rachel laughs.

“Rachel, I love this.”

Thus, commencing my teenage idea of what romance looked like: the late-night eating of comfort food. The move is often deployed in rom-coms, including the equally notable middle-of-the-night pancakes in Something’s Gotta Give and after-hours chocolate croissants in It’s Complicated.

Now that I’ve been in a relationship for seven years, and we’ve gotten very into our routines, I decided to try the move out to shake things up and see if the same magic would ensue. Only, my setup was a little different. Instead of disappearing into the likes of a Nancy Meyers’s kitchen, my 175-square-foot studio‘s dorm-sized stove is approximately two feet from the bed where I planned to present a pasta recipe I’d never attempted. Would it be challenging to build mystery and suspense when the subject is sitting an arm’s length away?

At 11 p.m., after a night out drinking P.B.R.s at a corner dive bar, Andrew and I came back to my apartment: it was time. He plopped down on the bed as I scaled my cabinets and pulled down spaghetti noodles and put water on the stove.

“Are you eating?” Andrew asked. “After you’re done with that pot, can I use it?” And, we were off!

I whisked four eggs, then added the spaghetti noodles to the frying pan, trying to stop them from sticking to the bottom. There were too many noodles! I took out a handful and threw them in the trash when Andrew wasn’t looking. I tempered the eggs with pasta water, and could hardly believe it when everything was going according to plan.

“What’s going on, Blackmon?” A recent joke of Andrew’s is to call me by my last name.

I stirred in the cheese and added pepper. I transferred the meal into my only large glass mixing bowl and grabbed two spoons and two forks. I joined Andrew sitting in bed and introduced our late-night meal.

“For real?” he smiled.

Andrew said his gratitudes before grabbing a separate plate to eat on. I congratulated myself with, “This *is* really good,” every couple of bites and worried only slightly about my white sheets. Andrew did the dishes, we debated about what to watch on Netflix, then he passed out. I switched the TV to The Kardashians.

The night didn’t go quite like the movies, as I should have figured. But the complexities of a seven-year relationship don’t always fit into a two-minute romance montage. And the little things I love so much probably wouldn’t have made the cut anyway, like how cozy our apartment felt that night, eating the leftovers together for breakfast and Andrew later texting me, “Love ya, Blackmon.”

In the book that the movie was based on, Nora Ephron discussed her admiration for the everydayness of relationships, writing, “I love figuring out what’s for dinner and where to hang pictures and do we owe the Richardsons,” but adds, “but life does tend to slow to a crawl.”

And for that, we have midnight pasta.

I Tried It: The #1 Rom-Com Courting Move

Pretty much Andrew and me.

How do you keep the spark alive?

P.S. More things we tried, like the best workout videos on YouTube, and how to keep the spark alive.

(Photos of Meryl Streep and Jack Nicolson in Nora Ephron’s Heartburn.)

  1. Mac-harrogate says...

    Cooked this on the weekend – was delish! For once in my life, I underestimated how much pasta to cook, so will have to try again. Maybe even this weekend :)

  2. Britt says...

    A work trip up to Minnesota puts me back home in Dallas late this coming Friday night. Instead of settling for some form of to-go airport food, I sent my husband this article and suggested we do midnight pasta when I get back. Instead of dreading the fact that work puts me away from home until 9:30pm on a Friday, I now feel giddy thinking about slurping Parmesan and pepper specked noodles with my husband in bed! Thanks for the great idea :)

  3. I always have some pie or ice cream in the fridge for late night snacking. My girlfriend also loves Nutella so, chocolate hazelnut toasts is a must have in my kitchen. As for eating, I say pizza is the favorite meal for midnight. Then after all that what follows is an intensive gym routine the next day 😂

  4. Anna says...

    Stella, I have cooked this exact same recipe in the same context inspired by the same movie. Great minds think alike! I just found it so sexy to basically conjure up a rich dish out of so few ingredients and serve it to someone in bed. Especially considering the fact that spaghetti isn’t super easy to eat in general.

  5. HH says...

    When I was meeting an ex-boyfriend’s family for the first time, a major storm knocked out the power in their neighborhood. We stayed at their house without electricity for an entire week. The ice cream, of course, was doomed. Late one night, he and I stayed up in the silent house eating melty ice cream-root beer floats by flickering candlelight. For me, that was the most romantic moment in our three years together. When I told him that later, he thought I was odd. The relationship ultimately failed…. no doubt because the right man for me will appreciate the wonder and romance of sharing melting ice cream by candlelight.

  6. Katherine says...

    Heartburn is one of my favorite movies! I love how the only song in the movie is that one Carly Simon song :)

    • Foree says...

      Yes yes yes yes yes infinity . That’s song !

  7. Kelly says...

    Last fall, my husband and I were living with roommates and I was 8 months pregnant with or first. One evening we had a major craving for pumpkin pie… but we knew if we went out to get some we’d need to share it with our roommates. So we drove to the grocery store at 9pm, bought a pumpkin pie and a can of whipped cream, and ate it, standing, in the parking lot- using the trunk of the car as our table and my husbands pocket knife to slice it. Got some strange looks from other shoppers- but sooooo worth not sharing with roommates!!

  8. Meg says...

    My now husband and I had our first date at a bar, one we kept planning to leave to go somewhere for dinner, but kept talking and found ourselves at closing time having only had an appetizer of sweet potato fries between us. He ended up (very innocently) back at my apartment sobering up before a 1/2 hour drive back home. We were watching tv on my couch when I declared myself starving and made my way to my tiny kitchen and whipped up a calzone. He still to this day talks about how he knew he couldn’t let a girl go that could pull of a meal like that at 2 in the morning with random fridge ingredients, and eating that calzone together on my couch is still one of my favorite memories of us dating. Making meals for each other is still one of our most consistent romantic gestures.

    • anne says...

      aw:)

  9. Jane I. says...

    UGH I so wish I could get my husband to eat in bed with me! My mom and I used to eat a bag of popcorn and drink a tall glass of milk with ice nearly every Friday night before bed. She’d let me stay up with her and we’d watch Nick At Night reruns untill she fell asleep. Haha! I so wish my husband would jump on the food in bed train… he fears for crumbs. I did convince him to eat a bowl of cereal with me once after a drunken night of movies. :)

  10. Emily says...

    I love Heartburn, and the idea of late night pasta. I love cooking for my boyfriend and there’s something cozy and caring about it that makes us both feel good.

  11. Rebecca says...

    I love this movie. I know it’s based on Nora’s real life with her ex husband, and slightly changed for the rom com aspect. Jack and Meryl were good together in the 80’s.

  12. Mrs. M says...

    Pizza. Always pizza in my house. Fresh from the oven or cold from the fridge, my husband loves late night pizza. He likes for it to be a surprise, so I don’t ask anymore what he’s doing in the kitchen after 11:00, but I’m always pleased when he brings me my plate :)

  13. Jordan says...

    One of our favorite ways to create a little excitement was learned right here on COJ years ago. We love scheduling a date night at a bar or restaurant and meeting there, instead of getting ready at home and going together. There is something so fun about putting on music and getting ready alone with a glass of wine. It makes me giddy with anticipation to walk in and wonder “is he here yet?!” or butterflies when I watch him walk in, scan the crowd, and grin once he spots me. I just recommended this as a “date night idea” at friend’s bridal shower!

    • Christina says...

      Wow, I really love this! I’m definitely going to make this happen with my guy. Xx

  14. Amy says...

    Nailed it again! It’s like you’re pulling feelings right out of my heart and putting them to words.

  15. Sasha says...

    I love that book (it contains recipes!), and the audio book is voiced by Meryl Streep- it made a transatlantic plane flight in a cramped seat bearable. Also love the movie, and the soundtrack (listen to coming round again by Carly Simon). We make carbonara rarely (the cholesterol!), but here is a good version from Mark Bittman with caramelized leeks replacing some of the pasta https://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/08/the-minimalist-pasta-with-creamy-leek-and-garlic-pesto/ It also works great with roasted zucchini.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Delicious, thank you, Sasha!

  16. AH says...

    Favourite movies of all time – all 3! Nora Ephron and Nancy Meyers are my faves. The music from Heartburn is almost haunting (Carly Simon!!!).

  17. Rose says...

    My new beau is a very early bird. I often wake up before the alarm goes off. It doesn’t mean that I get up. But last time it happened, I was hungry and poured myself a glass of milk. He wanted one, too. We drank them in bed in the first light of the day. Then slept for a couple more hours. It was like a pre-coffee thing. So comforting and intimate. I can’t wait until it happens again!

  18. Danielle says...

    6 years ago I moved across the country to move in with my now husband. On the first morning there we were fixing our coffee and he took my cup and looked at it. I asked him what he was doing and he said that he was memorizing the color so he would know how to get the amount of cream just right. Since then he’s brought me coffee in bed (or the bathroom counter if I’m showering) almost every morning since.
    When I think of our best “dates” a dinner out is never what comes to mind. It’s always standing in the kitchen until it’s late at night, drinking whiskey and trying to figure out a snack to make.
    Our go-to “bed snack” is a scoop of ice cream in a coffee mug.

    • Alice says...

      Danielle, this is just the absolute sweetest thing!!!! My heart just grew about eight sizes reading that. SO lovely!

    • Rachel says...

      This is so sweet I could cry.

  19. Alexis says...

    My partner works late a couple nights a week (he is a chef). Normally we have family dinner at the table, but on those nights, I make plates for me and our son and we set up TV trays on the couch and sit next to each other and watch together. It’s a treat for us because the TV is usually turned off at dinner time, and we tend to eat leftovers or charcuterie or other things we don’t normally eat at “family dinner.” It’s nice to have these things that are just ET and mommy time.

  20. Shanna says...

    This made me smile remembering a night from late this summer. My boyfriend and I were celebrating the arrival of football season (more celebration for him than I, but I digress) and we were sipping on margs all day. For dinner we ate slow-cooked ribs and as the evening waned on and the margs settled in we headed to bed. I mentioned being hungry and my boyfriend sprung out of bed, running to the kitchen to return with cold ribs. There, in the warmth of being tequila-drunk and our (two!) fluffy duvets, we devoured the remaining ribs without even heating them up. It’s one of my favorite memories from this past year of being with him.

  21. Cathy says...

    Didn’t realize my “fantasy relationship ideal” came from the movies until you wrote this!

    For me the “dream” is chinese take-out still in the little white paper origami boxes in bed while playing cards. In the 20 years of my dating life, I’ve never done it, but if I ever find a guy who will I’ll propose immediately!

  22. Hope says...

    I miss Nora and I miss Jack in movies. Please make another movie Jack- there is more to life than a basketball game.

  23. Mo says...

    I LOVE this and would love doing this, but my boyfriend does not allow any eating in bed. Not even a crumble. HELP!

  24. Julia says...

    I love this because it reminds me of my dad. I only saw him ever other weekend and he’d often have to work late into the night. Sometimes when he would get home, he’d come into my room and gently wake me, but never say a word. Groggy I’d get up and head straight to the kitchen, with just the light over the stove on. I can still remember sitting on the chair, legs dangling. My dad would place two bowls and two spoons on the table, open the pantry and take out a sleeve of cinnamon graham crackers, and crumble them into the bowls. Then he’d grab a half-gallon of milk from the fridge, shaking it feverishly because he knew I liked the bubbles. He would pour the milk into our bowls and we’d sit and eat in silence. Sometimes he’d wink at me and I’d giggle but mostly we would just enjoy the moment together, the calm. Then, he’d carry me back to bed, me hugging him tightly around is neck. Such a simple gesture but so meaningful and precious to me.

    To this day, graham crackers and milk is still my all time favorite comfort food.

    • A Martin says...

      Soooo sweet!!!!

    • peg says...

      this just brought tears to my eyes…….ever so lovely ! xx

    • Karen says...

      I CAN’T STOP CRYING behind my work desk!!! So so so so sweet.

    • JennP says...

      I teared. What a special ritual. Thank you for sharing!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Julia, crying!!!!!!!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, how sweet and meaningful. my heart!

    • Natalie says...

      I CANT STOP CRYING. I want to do this with my son when he’s older.

    • M says...

      This is so beautiful it makes my heart ache. Thank you for sharing.

    • Sitting here crying happy tears! I’m so delighted you all loved my little story about my dad and me. It means the world to me! ❤❤❤

    • Leigh says...

      I hope you can remind your Dad of this. I bet it would make him so happy to know that you remember it sweetly. Also, tears. It just shows you that it is the simple things our kids will remember and appreciate.

    • Adrienne says...

      Seriously. Just teared up. My mom did something similar once (not a tradition, but still always remember it). I was the fifth of six kids and I remember early one morning I saw the light turn on outside of the bedroom I shared with my two sisters. My mom came in and quietly pulled me out of bed. She had fixed two mugs of hot chocolate and just wanted to sit and chat with me before everyone else got up. At the time I was more excited about hot chocolate first thing in the morning, but now that I’m older, I realize that she knew that sometimes I got lost in the melee. I appreciate that moment of quiet where she could’ve stolen some much needed time for herself, but chose to check in with me instead.

  25. Kate says...

    My boyfriend and I have a late night tator tot habit (with a wide range of dipping sauces) and sadly we’re currently doing long distance right now while he completes an internship for his clinical pysch PhD. The amount of tator tots I have baked in my oven while missing him and needing some comfort food is slightly ridiculous.

  26. Megan says...

    I LOVE this

  27. Patricia says...

    Yes this is sweet and romantic, but don’t forget how it ends!!!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Haha, I know!

  28. Sisu Garcia says...

    i loved this post but the comments really nailed it for me. I am perpetually single and reading these warms my heart and gives me hope that maybe someday I will have something like this

    • Karen says...

      SAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. Jax says...

    On some date nights after a concert or late movie out, my husband does sometimes make a midnight ramen. Pick up instant ramen at the corner store, heat up some chicken broth, add a bit of miso maybe, and poach perfect runny eggs. If we have some spinach (fresh or frozen) or chard, throw that in too.
    We don’t eat in bed, but we’ll happily slurp at the coffee table while listening to music or watching some tv.

  30. Joy says...

    I love this post and Ms. Stella!

  31. Jennifer L Vercelli says...

    One of my favorite movies that I re-watch every few years…your recreation made me LOL. I think it’s time to watch again now that I think of it.

  32. Ann says...

    I gotta see this movie!!!

  33. Christine says...

    TOTALLY different, but this reminds me of a little thing we do as a family. My daughter was obsessed with Roald Dahl books, and after reading “Danny, Champion of the World”, we started having impromptu “midnight feasts”! We wake my daughter up at midnight or so, and we all go down to the kitchen in our PJs for sandwiches or cheese/charcuterie plates, or something fun. She thinks it is so WILD to eat when it is dark out and she loves the surprise. We never tell her it is going to happen!

    • Michelle A says...

      I love this idea Christine! Copying this tomorrow night with my oldest daughter, thanks so much for the idea.

    • Hollie says...

      We had a “midnight feast” this summer! My kids are in 1st and 2nd, and we woke them for Neapolitan ice cream sundaes and we saw Mars at its nearest point next to an almost-full moon. They LOVED it.

    • I LOVE this, Christine. How magical you’re making childhood for her!

    • MM says...

      That is AMAZING!!!! I am definitely going to copy this.

    • Lena says...

      This sounds amazing! You sound like really magical, fun parents. What else do you do? I would love to hear more tips!

    • A Martin says...

      What a WONDERFUL idea!!

  34. Isabel says...

    This story reminds me of my graduate school days when my then-boyfriend and I would cozy up on some evenings by having dinner in bed while watching the shows we were obsessed with at the time. To many, Sex and City brings memories of friends watching together. To me, Sunday nights were a marriage of HBO and cheesy omelettes made with eggs bought at the farmer’s market earlier that day. And The Sopranos always ended with cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery, which I would bring in from the bakery, which was just a few blocks down from our place. That lasted, of course, until Sex and the City famously featured the bakery, and then the lines were just to too long (or I too impatient) to make it. We ended up breaking up by then, anyway. But those memories of cozy nights are seared into my brain.

    • eve says...

      That all sounds ideal! Tangent: I’ve always wondered about folks who watched SATC and the Sopranos during their initial runs. It was right before social media and I’m envious of those who were watching a “modern classic” before they were really considered classics. Does that make sense? Ha!

      What was it like watching those shows when they first aired? Did they feel destined to become classics?

    • Isabel says...

      Eve,

      What a great question. I never thought about that. What I liked about watching the original show was the week-long anticipation before a new episode and the instant desire to watch the next one once the present one was over. The snippets with the hints of the next episode where the most precious 15 or 20 seconds ever. Having no social media meant talking about the shows with others in real time.

      Another great question you raise is whether you know a show will become a classic the first time you watch it. What I knew at the time, with both shows, but especially with SATC –for obvious reasons– is how relatable the themes were at that point in my life, even though I was much younger than the characters. That universal “relatableness,” which can take many forms, as well as the curiosity it generates (e.g., seeing New York City though the lens of four single women in their thirties and all that goes with it), or presenting characters that are usually one dimensional (good/bad) as complex emotional creatures, as in the case of the Sopranos, for the first time, is what, to me, makes a show a classic. Thanks for making me think about these things!

    • eve says...

      Isabel – thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I’ve always wanted to ask that question of someone who would have a good answer and now I have! :)

  35. maria says...

    i LOVE that movie! i think it’s an often ignored efron gem! and yes, whole-heartedly agree with how fantastic that scene is – how so many of the scenes in that film and most of efron’s work are fantastic. SO. GOOD.

    as to keeping the spark alive? honestly? idk. married 26 (eep!) years, and sure the fireworks of the early years are gone in some ways – yes, different, BUT – better? idk. there IS an absolute comfort in “knowing” your partner, like you can never know anyone without putting in the time. sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s horrible and yet – here the two of you still are. sometimes it’s sexy – other times anything but and yet … here the two of you still are.

    • maria says...

      ugh – apologies, EPHRON. i despise typos! haha.

  36. Lia says...

    I met my (American) husband when we were both working overseas in Kenya. We bonded over the boxes of mac and cheese I had carried with me from home, lol, and ate many a late night snack together as friends in a strange land before we started dating. Almost 10 years later we have three little kids and boxed mac and cheese is our dinner of last resort for them (and we cut out pasta, so no longer even eat it!!!:( ) but it still holds a special place in my heart.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      This is so so so sweet, Lia!

  37. Madie says...

    Nice work, Blackmon! But you forgot the bacon (!?)

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      hahaha, madie <3 of course not!

    • Madie says...

      Phew! Bacon is my husband’s love language… ;)

  38. MariaE. says...

    Great post, but for a very different reason to me. I am just amazed at the fact that this movie came to my mind the other day as a perfect example of powerful and courageous women out there. The soundtrack at the end of the movie is simply perfect, as well.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      yes, totally agree with you, mariae!!

  39. Hannah says...

    My last boyfriend gave me the novel Heartburn that the movie is based on for Christmas last year when we were still just friends! Our relationship didn’t end up working out, but he won major points for gifting me a Nora Ephron novel. I’ll keep the pasta idea in mind for the future ;)

    • maria says...

      i had a completely platonic male friend give me the complete works of ephron as a birthday gift a few years ago as he knew my utter love of her work. he’s definitely a keeper, for his wife. ;) haha. still, a great move – even as a friend!

  40. Sarah C says...

    So I think eating food in bed is terrible (except for crackers when sick or something like that). But my husband and I always try to have one show we are watching together and the other can’t cheat and watch ahead on it. It’s OUR show. We always like “treats” while watching something. Lately it’s been fun to cook up a bunch of bacon. :)

  41. Caitlin says...

    I love this so much!! A long time ago I woke up in the middle of the night starving. I woke my husband up and said I feel so hungry. He sprang up, said Mac and cheese! And then raced downstairs and promptly made a batch of Mac and cheese (using gnocchi instead of noodles!). It was so indulgant and fun and delicious. It was a BLAST. Every few months now we’ll be laying in bed and one of us will say “mac and cheese?” And we go downstairs to cook some middle of the night food. It’s the best.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      omg, love this so much, caitlin!!!!

  42. Reenie says...

    I love late night drinks at home with my husband. He will deejay the evening and we will sing, talk about memories related to the songs, and dance (well, I will dance). These nights are even more important now that we have a 4 month old and need to make the most of our weekends in.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      This is the cutest, Reenie!

  43. Em says...

    I’m balking at the casualness of throwing perfectly edible food away.

    • Christy says...

      Me too!! Especially since I’m too lazy to boil spaghetti and only make baked spaghetti. Extra noodles are gold to me.
      But the throwing-away of the noodles on the sly did add a bit of madcap fun.

    • MariaE. says...

      Me, too. I always cook more pasta than needed, but I keep it for another meal. But, at the same time, I totally understand Stella and the whole panicking scene!! You just want the moment to be perfect and you just do what comes to your mind first!!!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      v stressful moment, and I panicked! will definitely save next time :)

  44. liz says...

    maybe its just because i’m greek and we do this on the reg, but does not everyone bond over eating comfort food late night with their partners? which leads to another question: can this be done too frequently? lol

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha love this comment :)

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      hahahaha

  45. jeannie says...

    This made me laugh out loud! It is so true that relationships settle into routines and I admire your trying to change things up. What a sweet moment and it sounds as if Andrew appreciated it. I would never say no to late night pasta!

  46. Caitlin says...

    Oh my gosh, this SCENE! Legendary. Nora got is all so right.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      yes!!!

  47. Erin says...

    I didn’t realize it previously but my husband of 7 years & I share pints of ice cream regularly. It’s always after the kids are in bed or during particularly hard nights or stressful times. Sometimes we just look at each other during bath time & know what the other is thinking…whoever gets out of bedtime first runs to the store. Is it bad that we go for the flavors our kids can’t have due to their food allergies? Ha

  48. Kate says...

    Oh I love this!!! And I love the way the details cease to matter and it is all about the moment. I have been with my husband for more than 30 years. The other morning I was late to work and I realized that I was going to have to skip breakfast (if you know me, you will know that is NOT a good idea…see definition of hangry). Suddenly, my husband said “That’s okay, I made you some overnight oatmeal with blueberries. Let’s go.” When he dropped me off at the office, I looked at the tupperware and said “Wait there’s no spoon.” He looked at me for a moment and said “Just use some pens as chopsticks.” Even more than the love and thoughtfulness that the oatmeal represented, that suggestion had me smiling all morning. I cherish those moments…..they are the moments of caring and humor that reveal the depth of the feelings that we have for one another and sometimes just help us get by! Thanks for your piece- it made me relive that moment and cherish it all the more!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      aww that is so cute :)

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      love that, kate!!

  49. Jill says...

    Nigella Lawson wrote about this very scene as the intro to her excellent recipe for Pasta Carbonara. It made an impression on her too!

  50. JP says...

    This post just gave me the chills because I JUST got done listening to the audiobook version of this book, read by Meryl Streep. I was LOL by myself while driving my daily 45 min commute to/from work. I love the whole explanation on “Where is the butter?”. My husband, however, did not find that joke amusing. I’m so glad, someone as youthful as you, still find this book amusing :) Long live Nora Ephron!!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Yes, the butter joke, JP!!!!! Great reminder to listen to the audiobook — thank you!

  51. STEPHANIE O'NEILL says...

    I love this post and all the comments! Thank you all for sharing all the good vibes and love!! It’s giving me the warm and fuzzies! :)

  52. Sarah says...

    Ha! Midnight pasta is my thing too. I started it randomly one night when we were up particularly late, and I was really craving pasta (salty over sweet, always!). It was relatively early in our relationship, and he was delighted by my spontaneity (and I guess, ambition, and probably also just having ample homemade food because who doesn’t love that).

    Six years after the first midnight pasta, when we were on our honeymoon, our prix fixe dinner got cut short (food allergies are. the. worst.) and the kind staff plated the last two courses into to-go boxes. After I recovered a couple hours later, we ended up finishing dinner in the king size hotel bed. No greater joy than a bit of spontaneity wherever you can find it!

  53. anna maria says...

    loved this essay. and forever love Nora Ephron. even named my second daughter Nora :)

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Love the name Nora!

  54. sandra says...

    I call them “Magic Moments”… Married 35 years. Last week while strolling down the aisle of the grocery store. He was pushing the cart and I was walking in front.
    Him: Bread?
    Me: Yes- got it.
    Him: Crackers?
    Me: Got it.
    Him: Honey?
    Me: I quickly turned around and said “Yes dear”. And then we both just giggled. Well…. I admit I giggled quite a bit more. But right there in the middle of Aisle 15….. Magic Moment. You simply must grab and hold onto those moments during the everyday of life.

    • Sasha L says...

      That’s so cute.

    • Laura says...

      That’s so lovely!!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Sandra!!!!!!!!!! The cutest!

    • Laura C. says...

      So lovely.

  55. Jess Oveson says...

    My partner moved in five months ago and a favorite lazy ritual we’ve taken up is making a huge bowl of food and eating out of it together while watching television. Pasta salads, chicken ceased, beets with quinoa- while I’m a huge fan of formal intentional eating it’s been really fun to play at being easygoing. Maybe I’m actually loosening up?

  56. Maryann says...

    This is such a sweet reminder to keep romance alive – love it. The part when you sneakily threw out some pasta has me cracking up. I always end up with too much pasta! I think it multiplies in the pot or something…

  57. Eve says...

    We have a baby and I’m pregnant. If it’s possible to keep the spark alive during this stage, I’d say it has everything to do with acts of service (i.e. him taking full care of the baby while I pop in to observe their love from time to time).

    • amanda says...

      For me, it was sex and spending time alone doing adult things even without coffee and alcohol. It was PG-13+ movies started early enough to stay awake for the whole thing. It was babysitters and casual dinners in places without kids that kept the spark alive.

    • Lisa says...

      While reading through the comments I was trying to think what the magic moments are for my husband and I (with 2 under 3) and it’s things like last Saturday when he took both of them and let me sleep in until 8 (the baby gets up for the day at 5:30. FIVE THIRTY) or when he gets them both dressed in the morning. Anything which allows me sleep / time to be an individual. Which is hard because making time for us as a couple is so important, but so rare.

  58. riye says...

    I’ve been with my bf 25+ years and when ordinary disasters strike (as they usually do; e.g., kitten overturned poop and pee-filled litterbox) one of us will tell the other one “This romance is SO OVER.” Then we laugh. I suspect it wouldn’t be funny if the romance REALLY was over. I don’t like eating in bed but I find little every day acts of unexpected thoughtfulness very romantic. Like the time the bf produced a Burger King kids’ meal spoon when I was cranky and ranting in the car about how I’d forgotten to get utensils at the take out place. He looked at my surprised and speechless face and said “And look it lights up!” (the spoon had an LED in it)

    • Ashley says...

      That is such a charming story!! What a sweet gesture!

    • cj says...

      Loved this!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Love this, Riye!!!!

    • Meg says...

      Riye, this is so funny. When my husband and I were engaged and little things went wrong with wedding planning one of us would dramatically say, “wedding’s off!” Then we would laugh at ourselves like we were SO funny. I always worried what people thought when it slipped out in public, though. Like, I always wanted to ensure passerby that no, it really is okay that he doesn’t want to register for that whisk, I promise. Haha! We also sometimes mock “Chopped” at home. I guess we just like the dramatics.

    • riye says...

      Thanks!! He’s such a thoughtful, kind person. And we still have that spoons (washed) in the car! :-D

  59. Sarah says...

    Prob not your era but HAD to add when Loretta cooks Ronnie a steak in Moonstruck!

    • Seja says...

      “You’ll eat this one bloody to feed your blood.” SO GOOD.

    • Pam says...

      Yes to Moonstruck!!

  60. Ali says...

    I love this!!

  61. Ellie says...

    Stella, you have such a knack for writing —if you wrote a book, I’d buy it! I truly love all your posts; you’re so funny and observant, and it feels, while reading, like talking to a close friend.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Ellie, this is the kindest note ever! Thanks for making my day <3

    • nadine says...

      I’m with you Ellie!! And if the book had Stella’s photos as well that would be a dream!

  62. Kate says...

    My husband came home last week with two giant boxes of Lucky Charms from Costco and we each ate about 4 bowls for dinner that night :) There was something so sweet about both of us forgoing any kind of real food and living out that particular childhood fantasy of what adulthood is!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Love!!!

  63. Savannah says...

    When we first got married we had naked Saturdays which really just meant morning sex and being naked until the Farmer’s Market. Now that we have a toddler I’ve been trying out betting. This fall I bet my husband trimming up his beard if we have sex four times a week for two months- it’s a win for both of us and it makes me smile . It’s easy to lose track of sex with a toddler and work, having this weekly reminder has been good for me!

    • Jessica says...

      Love this! My husband and I practice Sunday Morning Sex Time. We also have sex other times of the week, but it’s lovely to have one set time we can count on for indulgent couple time. And giving it a name makes it even more fun. We have a baby on the way, so I’m curious how we will adapt the tradition once the little one arrives. I like your betting idea, may have to try this.

  64. Jen says...

    Oh no. Eating in bed?! I don’t even get breakfast in bed but dinner?!

  65. Nikki P says...

    The wonderful Nigella Lawson has a spaghetti carbonara recipe in her book Feast with the title ‘that first night’ and gives instructions to make a whole pot and eat it in bed! Never been brave enough to do it, but this post may finally convince me to try it!

  66. This is totally adorable. I’ve been in a relationship for 3+ years and feel like this would be so much FUN. Mostly because Meryl Streep, but pasta is good too. ;) – Kaitlyn

  67. Ro says...

    Ha! This cracked me up.

  68. Becky says...

    Stella,
    Drink Yuengling. It’s so much better than PBR.
    Haha
    Sincerely,
    A reader who has lost her taste for beer (tears)

    • Heather McMunigal says...

      hear hear!

  69. Lauren E. says...

    I laughed through this entire post. What a great story.

    This wasn’t intentional, but my husband and I had separate plans on Wednesday night of last week and as I was walking home from the subway he was walking TO the subway and we accidentally ran into each other on the street. We basically stood on the street for thirty seconds and made out and touched each other like we hadn’t seen each other in years. I haven’t felt those kinds of sparks since we first started dating.

    • Sarah says...

      I get those butterflies when I bump into my husband on the metro commuting home from work. It’s so exciting, like hey! I know you!

    • that is AWESOME!!!!

    • I’ve been with my husband for 15 years, and we both work downtown in a major city. Every now and then we will pass each other on the street and every time I get a little jolt and think “ooh! That guy’s hot!” and then I realized I’m married to him! Total butterflies. The best part? He told me he feels the same, totally unprompted.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s so sweet!

    • Dana says...

      We follow Jo’s tip to meet up at the restaurant/bar rather than go together for just this reason. Soooooo many butterflies.

      Although now we have a baby, so our hot date meet ups are on a bit of a hiatus.

    • Emma says...

      This is so sweet! These are the little moments that life amazing.

    • Alexandra says...

      My long-term boyfriend and I live together. Last night we decided to meet up at the grocery store (I was coming from work and him from class). When I arrived, he was already there so I had to walk all over the store to find him. The moment I spotted him, I felt like my heart was going to beat out my chest with excitement. That tall, handsome man (picking out TJ’s frozen Indian food, be still my heart) is *my* man! It’s so sweet and exciting to have moments like that when you’ve been with someone for a while.

    • Brooke says...

      Awww I’ve only run into my husband ONCE (I was getting coffee with a friend and he walked in) and we both looked at each other like the heart eyed emojis <3

    • Alexandra says...

      Update to my previous comment… I told my boyfriend about feeling butterflies when I saw him at the grocery store and he told me that’s how he feels walking home from the Bart station! “Whenever I get close to home I get so excited because I know you’ll be there.” I’m so lucky :)

  70. The caption under the last photo made me laugh out loud! Ive been married for 13 years. We have 2 kids and all the things that come along with a life built together. Sometimes it can feel like we are business partners. I feel like I have two go to tricks for when things are getting a little too all business no fun. 1- I go away and get inspired by life again. Because alot of times I get in a funk and need to remember that there is a playful world out there and creative things going on. So go see a show, a new city, a new look whatever. 2- go play together. Do something fun and different that you might not be good at but that is just pure fun. You end up feeling revitalized and remember that it can just be fun to be around each other.

  71. Kari says...

    I wish we could measure the spike in homes having carbonara for dinner tonight due to this post. I know I’ll be making it tonight!

  72. Daniela says...

    My boyfriend and I just moved and have basically no furniture, besides our mattress. Our evenings lately have consisted of dinner in bed (lotsss of pizza) followed by Netflix. Pretty perfect after our twelve hour shifts!

  73. Gemma says...

    I love this!! And that is one of my VERY FAVORITE quotes from one of my favorite books.
    I need to be more ambitious in my romantic midnight feasts. We have done a lot of toast with almond butter (Barneys is the only brand worth eating) or cheese and apples (less crumby) – and when pregnant I frequently woke up my husband and begged “cashews now please please please” … but none of these things are quite as sexy as spaghetti…

  74. Cara says...

    One of my favorite late-night food memories with my husband is from last winter. We’d been watching Netflix all night (why is it always Netflix?) when he suddenly got a craving for brownie bites. The closest grocery store to us closed in 15 minutes, so we sprung from the couch and raced out the door, our hair still in knots and our clothes wrinkled from long-term lounging. We ran into the grocery store like it was some kind of emergency, grabbed the brownie bites, and used self-checkout because we were too ashamed of ourselves. We were laughing at how ridiculous we were the whole way home. Then we got back on the couch, turned on Netflix, and ate the whole container. We felt so sick the next morning, but we still laugh about that to this day. We affectionately call it “The Brownie Incident.”

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      I am laughing so much, Cara! This is the cutest thing!!!!

    • Love this visual: our hair still in knots and our clothes wrinkled from long-term lounging! HA. What a funny incident! :)

  75. Abbey says...

    Such a sweet post! I love your writing Stella!

  76. Michelle says...

    Ha, I just finished reading the book Heartburn- funny timing! I would love to try out all of the recipes in the book now. Curious about the bread pudding, and the pears+lima beans dish(?!)…

  77. Meg says...

    That is one of my all time movie scenes. I learned to make carbonara because of it AND, I just ordered the book last week because I had never read it. Your post was such a sweet coincidence <3

  78. Katie says...

    Not long after the husband and I started dating, we decided we needed a Champagne Saturday, meaning the morning began with champagne in bed. It was blissful and indulgent and so much fun.

    Now, when life gets busy and we want to slow down and reconnect, we institute a Champagne Saturday, starting with champagne in bed and ending with a dinner that takes hours on the stove or in the oven. We make it a point NOT to leave the house. Those are the best days.

    • Danni says...

      My partner and I received a bunch of bottles of champagne at our engagement party. Once you open a bottle of champagne, you gotta finish it – so every now and then we’ll have a “Champagne Sunday” where we pop a bottle first thing, read the newspaper, eat cinnamon rolls, and drink mimosas all morning. Bliss, and a fun memory of our engagement! I think we only have one gift bottle left – I might have to sneakily buy a few so we can continue the tradition.

  79. Nikki says...

    My boyfriend and I moved in together this summer after many months of long distance. When I would just come for the weekends, I never really cooked, we did a lot of eating out. Finally this summer I started cooking and man, this boy acted like he never had eaten before. Every meal was his favorite, he gushed all night, he invited his friends over for meals and shared left over with coworkers. I have never felt so loved and appreciated. Even when something didn’t go right he would say “this isn’t my favorite, but I know with a modifications I will love it.” I feel super lucky.

    • tod says...

      that is so sweet! you are lucky!

  80. Rachel L says...

    I canNOT eat anything in bed…I just hate the thought of spilling anything or getting greasy fingers on the sheets and I also have a rule (with myself) that I have to clear a dirty plate/bowl/mug away as soon as I’ve finished. So this would NOT be relaxing, or sexy, for me…but thanks for reminding me about Heartburn, which I love so much (the Carly Simon soundtrack…) and I might make carbonara tonight now (but we’ll eat it at the table!!!) xx

  81. “There were too many noodles! I took out a handful and threw them in the trash when Andrew wasn’t looking.” Hahahaha, I have done that too. I was planning such a moment for ages and I had picked the recipe, the presentation, the combinations of flavours, everything till the last little detail. Then the past ended too many and I was afraid that they would shade my complex flavor combinations. So when he wasn’t looking, I threw some away. And it felt so good for some reason! Haha

  82. Alesha says...

    My husband and I have a thing called “midnight nachos” most of the time it’s chips and cheese broiled in the oven till the cheese is just the right amount of brown on top. Sometimes there is leftovers (chicken, taco meat) in the fridge to add to them. Best part is you eat them in bed!

  83. Our current favorite nights are bonfires and beer in the yard after dark OR listening to a full album on our bed, only candlelight, drinking and talking over Highlifes-all in our underwear. We’ve been together for 16 years and four kids and this always leads to making out.

    • Morgan says...

      Meg! That reminds me so much of my husband and I. Last year on my birthday the plan was to go out and do a long boozy, high-end dinner, but instead we ended coming home early, up sitting on the floor of our living room, listening to old albums from high school and talking late into the night about the best life memories we had. It made me fall in love all over again (and led to some really wonderful sex!)

    • Ashley says...

      Meg, I love both this and Morgan’s follow-up!! I love the idea of still having something new to share with each other years and years later :)

  84. Hannah says...

    Cookies in bed. Nothing is better than warm chocolate chip cookies in bed :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      omg now that’s ALL i want today :)

    • Sarah says...

      My husband will occasionally say “you know what sounds good right about now”… and I will go and make this delicious chocolate chip cookie recipe that makes two amazing cookies: https://www.number-2-pencil.com/perfect-single-serving-size-chocolate/

      It’s seriously so, so good (I bake it longer than the recipe calls for, but that may just be my oven).

    • Hannah says...

      Thanks for sharing, Sarah! I admire you guys for only eating 2 cookies… #notpossible

  85. i’m so old, all i can think is that the movie title “heartburn” would be pretty apt for me if i ate a big plate of pasta right before going to bed.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Hahahaha

    • Nina says...

      Me too! My husband and I would end up complaining all night and sleeping with a thousand pillows to keep the heartburn down. Isn’t aging the BEST.

    • Laura says...

      Same here, Bridget!

    • Julia says...

      Omg this made me laugh so hard! So true.

  86. Ok, now you HAVE to share the recipe! Really leavin’ us hangin’ here!! ;)