A couple of nights ago I asked him where he learned to cook, because there are men here (aka Maria's husband, Pavel) who seriously don't know how to cook pasta or boil an egg. This was his response:
"Listen here, Cate. My mother had 10 children. Four of them died when they were little, but that still left six of us. My mother got really sick and some of my older siblings were already married and not living at home, so when I was in the 5th form I had to help in the house. She would be in and out of the hospital and someone had to do the cooking and the chores, so she taught me and I would cook for everyone in the family. When I went to college I would cook in my room, too, on one of those stoves that you plug into the wall. Then when I married Antonina, sometimes she wouldn't be able to cook because she would be working, so I would cook sometimes. In fact, there was a time I cooked better than her. But she's learned how to cook better now, and she has more time. So Cate, that is how I learned how to cook."
That is how he learned how to cook... and how he learned to cook so well. I also think this explains why he is the way he is (aka strict, but also very caring and doesn't want anything bad to happen to me)... he had to be the man of the house at the age of 12.
Not that he didn't have my respect before (he did!!), but it all makes more sense now... and I have even more respect for him.