This blog post does carry bias, I have no interest in being objective or presenting a balanced perspective, but despite my declaration I’ll still attempt to seduce you into the boudoir of my thought process, as the inspiration for this post was sparked from a conversation I overheard last week…
Young female A: “He actually asked you to cook for him?”
Young female B: “Can you believe it! He came to my flat, said he was hungry and asked if I could make him something to eat!”
Young female A: “Oh my God! What did you tell him?”
Young female B: “I told him to p%$$ off! There‘s no way I was going to cook for any man, I’m too independent for that!”
“Too independent to cook?” I thought to myself “how can this be?” I was both amused and confused because one of the definitions you will find of the word independent is: not relying on another for aid or support.
So how is it possible to be an independent person and not posses the life skill that will help you to achieve and maintain independent status? I’ll bet, when our primitive ancestors first discovered how to create and control fire, one of the first things they did was flame grill the meats they were able to gather and there is good evidence to suggest that it was cooking the food that allowed humanity to thrive and our brains to develop over time.
There is no real historical evidence that can pin point what inspired group of people started to experiment with complimentary herbs, spices, textures or tastes but there is something more uplifting than an Obama speech and more magical than a David Blaine illusion, when people sit around a table and eat good food for a collective, communal experience.
Throughout history both men and women have been credited for their love of cooking and preparing food, however issues started to simmer (bad pun intended?) when it became the societal norm for cooking to become intrinsically linked to gender, as undeniably there was a time when the expectation to cook was placed humans who had two XX chromosomes. It’s a little scary to think there are parts of the world where that expectation still holds true, so I can understand why Young female A, might spit in the eye of expectation at the thought of cooking for a man…but that doesn’t mean I agree with it…
If “a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” I can tell you with great certainty knowing if a potential love interest could out cook Rachael Ray didn’t even crack the top ten on my list of most desirable relationship qualities, but that’s not to say that it isn’t an admirable skill.
In a world filled with a vast array of restaurants, fast food outlets, home delivery services and microwavable meals, we are living in a time where food is no longer used for the sole purpose of preventing hunger. Food is a connection to our ancestry, a way of sharing and experiencing different cultures, a creative opportunity or an expression of appreciation, whether a meal takes two hours to prepare on the stove or two minutes to warm in the microwave.
I’m eternally grateful to live in a time where women are no longer bound by societal expectation to stay chained to a purely domestic existence, I don’t want modern man to assume cooking is a gender based expectation for modern woman…but…I want to live in a world where modern woman doesn’t confuse not cooking for modern man as a sign of independence.
I write this as a man who was raised in the loving embrace of a loving mother, aunts, grandmother and great-grandmother whose ability to touch the stomach of my soul with food that sent my taste buds into new realms of unparalleled discovery; a legacy I attempt to continue when I cook for my own children, fiancee and friends.
All I ask is despite the imbalanced historical gender expectations of the past, cooking should be seen as a human skill that every man, women and child should have an opportunity to explore, at least once, and even if we can’t take the heat we’ll all attempt to stay in the kitchen.
Until next time.