Friday, April 8, 2011

Boys & Food (Part 2 of Food-Related Gender Posts)

After thinking about how girls seem to be intrinsically linked to food in a way boys are not (see previous post on Girls & Food), I realized that was completely untrue.  Most celebrity chefs are men.  Not all, but a good majority.  A lot of popular cooking shows highlight men.  The cooking challenge shows are dominated by men.  “Man vs. Food” is a very manly show.  I seriously doubt a woman would succeed as the host of that show.  (Because I think we, as a culture, would have a difficult time accepting a woman in that role, not that I think there aren’t lots of women out there that could actually accomplish the challenges.)  And no woman is ever paired with Adam as an eating challenge partner or as a competitive eater (that I’ve seen, though I haven’t completed my watching of the series yet).  Yet the predominant view of our culture still places women in the kitchen at home.

So why is that?  Why are men hailed as “manly” if they succeed in the competitive world of professional cooking, but emasculated by their peers if they succeed in doing so in their own home?  Why is it that I am constantly (pleasantly) surprised to find out a husband is as much of a cook in the home as the wife? 

Is it that I am prejudiced?  Conditioned?  Stupid? 

How can food be so controversial? 

All I can say is that my husband has been convinced on more than one occasion that I have some innate ability with cooking that he does not possess.  I try to remind him that he was there at the start of my cooking ventures, when I called my mom every other day for help.  I’ve simply invested more time & effort into learning and doing in that area than he has.  Much as he has invested (a lot) more time & energy into learning about music than I have.  He has more interest in music than I do.  And I have more interest in cooking than he does, mostly because I want to eat well.  And in order to do so, I need to cook well.  Because we cannot afford to eat out continuously.  And since I’ve invested in cooking, Jake simply does not have to.  If he wanted to, that’d be great.  But he does not want to & has not HAD to, so he does not have the knowledge.  But innate it is not.  In either of us.

I’m sure there are some men & women that have an innate ability in the kitchen, whether it’s the kitchen in their home or in their restaurant.  Just as some people have innate talents in other areas.  But I do not think that just because you’re a man or a woman means you are born with this gift.  I think for most of us it comes out of necessity.  And then for some others of us, it becomes more enjoyable.  That’s my position at this point.

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