What Every Man Should Know… About Cooking: 6/8

feeding the family, feeding the kids, cooking for kids, cooking for the family, family dinners

Do you know the way to your own heart? Men who cook and write wanted.

It’s not exactly a newsflash: men eat, too. And while men are highly visible as professional chefs, and dominate commercial kitchens, when it comes to cooking up three square meals a day, the job typically falls to the woman of the house, if there is one.

Stereotypes don’t just fall out of the clear blue sky.  In my own family, men traditionally did not cook or even know how to make the simplest dish for themselves. A man’s inability could even be a source of pride: “real men” didn’t cook; women cooked for them. According to television tropes, men are backyard grill savants, while screwing up pretty much any other culinary task that falls to them.

Of course, things are changing: a man who takes primary responsibility for the household cooking is not yet the norm, but is becoming common enough that those who can’t fix a simple meal might be regarded as pampered or stubbornly macho.

Who makes the food you eat? What do you know about feeding yourself and the ones you love and care for? What are the values you express through your cooking? How do you respond to cultural notions of “manly food” and “womanly food”? How do you believe the way you cook is influenced by your manhood? What do you want the next generation of men to know about food, cooking, eating, and their related concerns … in health, economy, service, gratitude, and languages of love?

Your submissions on the values of men who cook are currently being welcomed for an upcoming series, What Every Man Should Know About Cooking, on The Good Life. Send your article or essay (around 800-1200 words) to Justin Cascio at [email protected] by Saturday, June 8 for consideration. Please send your completed submissions in the body of an email, as a Google Doc, or attached plain text or Word document. Email Justin with any other questions, pitches, or outlines.

 

Read more Calls For Submissions on The Good Life.

Image credit: woodleywonderworks/Flickr

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Comments

  1. It’s a myth that men can’t cook. Maybe in your household, the men in the family knew little to nothing about cooking but it sure wasn’t the case in my family. And at 58 and the youngest of 7, I can tell you men in the kitchen was not unusual.
    Although my mom was the “chief” cook and bottle washer, my dad knew plenty about cooking.

    Where have you been for the past 40+ years. Years past, MOST great chefs were men. In fact one of my friends is an award winning pastry chef for a major Chicago restaurant, he’s in his 60’s now.

    So I’m not sure why you wrote this other then to feed the myth that men can’t cook.

    • “And while men are highly visible as professional chefs, and dominate commercial kitchens, when it comes to cooking up three square meals a day, the job typically falls to the woman of the house, if there is one.”

      • I don’t think that has been true for 10-15 years Justin. Among my peer friends (I’ll go with Gen X) here) the men/husbands do the majority of the cooking for the family. I also see this reinforced on my sports message board that I frequent. It also is true with the Gen Y/Millennials I know. It seems to mostly be due to the women growing up considering cooking to be “beneath them” or looking down on cooking for others as some kind of subjugation. I have a couple of friends that their wives are _proud_ they can’t cook.

        I think the real question is “why don’t women cook anymore?”

        • trey1963 says:

          My wife and I are from the tail-end of the boomer group….. for years she was proud that she didn’t know how to cook much beyond cooking pasta and cracking open a bottle of sauce. At 50 she’s started to learn to cook, after our 15 year old daughter teased her that she was the much better cook of the two…….and it is the truth.

    • I don’t think it’s an issue of whether men can or can’t cook–it’s a question of why do they or don’t they, Tom.

      The men in your house cooked growing up, still do. Great–maybe you should write about that. Isn’t that the point? To get a variety of male voices talking about cooking and what it means to them? I guess I must have missed the part where it says every household is the same or that no men ever cook.

      I also don’t see how this project “feeds” any myths about men not being able to cook. (Quite the opposite, actually.) The bottom line is that one person’s experience (yours or mine) doesn’t single-handedly reproof the long-standing “Leave It To Beaver” stereotype where a man’s job is to be the breadwinner and the woman’s job is to have dinner waiting for him when he gets home. (Maybe the guy grills on the weekend during the summer–that would be okay.) That’s the way it still happens in plenty of households, and it’s a situation that’s worth interrogating.

      I love to cook–am, incidentally, making black bean griddle cakes as I write this. Doesn’t mean I still wouldn’t like to hear about other men’s experiences in the kitchen–those who do cook, those who don’t, what men think men should know how to do, and what keeps men out of the kitchen. Specifically, I’d be interested in people’s thoughts about whether there is a cultural heritage element to it? In other words, do households that place more value on the Old World cooking traditions of their ancestry share the cooking responsibility more evenly across gender lines? I’d also be interested in reading about people’s thoughts on the difference between “Chef culture” (cooking as Art) and everyday cooking culture (cooking as chore). What’s the percentage of male celebrity chefs as compared to the percentage of “ordinary” men who are the primary cooks in their own household? I’m looking forward to what people come up with.

  2. Katie S says:

    I am an educated, successful, seemingly independent woman; and I totally embrace my role as the keeper of the home. That being said, I legitimately ENJOY the art of cooking. I appreciate the science, and structure it demands, but also the beauty and creativity it can embrace. I tend to jump quickly into the role of, “let me cook. let me clean. let me make things easy for you.”. Recently, I have discovered that one of the most attractive qualities I find in my current partner is that he can feed himself. HE can cook for ME, and I am willing to make myself vulnerable in that way. Because he cooks, he has an enhanced appreciation for the fact that I take such a joy in creating food for him. The cooking role should be more than just about mere sustenance. It should be celebrated as a loving means of providing a little bit of yourself to the other person, or yourself, or your children, in a way that is both necessary and joyful. Long live cooking, and long live the celebration of men who feel up to the challenge.

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