A smart blogger knows when to back off and let the web-strangers take over.

So it goes with a recent entry on 101 Cookbooks, where writer Heidi reprints an email from a reader with a pressing question. As the 60-year-old B.B. from Surrey, England, writes,

I am newly single, and facing having to care for myself. I’ve mastered the big white box (washing machine), discovered that ‘food’ can also go in the beer cold box, that frozen dinners can be made in the little white microwave-box, but…. I have a box left over. I think it’s called a cooker?

Cookbooks, he says, are no good, as they assume both basic competence and “supposed enthusiasm” on the part of the user. Putting himself squarely in the camp of “don’t-wanna-but-gotta-cook,” he begs for compassion, and recipes, to save him from “starving on ghastly tv dinners.”

Illustrating the letter with a close-up shot of frozen peas, Heidi puts the challenge to her readers: What culinary advice do you have for an older Englishman who’s never cooked a meal in his life? More than 150 comments have been posted since the piece went up on April 3. The answers range from investing in Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course Volumes I–III to taking a cooking class (“meet people, burn things with them”), hiring a personal chef, and making Nigella Lawson’s roast chicken from How to Eat.

“Also,” posts one helpful reader, “never forget B4D (breakfast for dinner).”

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