I don’t guess I have to make apologies for that anymore. Time was, if a man admitted he liked to cook, people thought this was strange. Unless, of course, he was a professional chef. The same people who thought it “unmanly” to cook also thought it “unseemly” for a woman to be a chef. Cooking was “women’s work,” but not if it was a career. Careers were for men.
Our world is not like that anymore. And that’s a good thing. I’m not interested in starting a discussion between the “complementarians” and the “egalitarians” within the PCA who may be reading this blog. Whatever your feelings are on that issue, one thing is crystal clear in Scripture: in Christ “there is no male nor female” (Galatians 3:27-29). We are all equal before God. Yes, God has gifted us differently and has given us different gifts and interests. But God didn’t line everyone up and say, “OK, men you all like to work on your own transmissions. Women, you all like to make apple pies and knit.”
Some women like to cook. Some hate it. Same with men. Some like to cook, some just like to eat. When I was growing up, my mother did all the cooking. I remember when my brother was in the hospital having his tonsils removed (back then they kept you in the hospital for a few days: nowadays it’s outpatient surgery) and my dad cooked for himself and me. We had Aunt Jemima frozen waffles for breakfast and hot dogs for lunch. (I can’t remember what we had for dinner: it may have been Shoney’s or Sambo’s). That’s not a slam against him: it just wasn’t his bag. At the same time, I don’t remember ever seeing my mom throwing, hitting, or kicking a ball of any kind. That wasn’t her thing.
Years later, in grad school, I lived with my aunt and uncle. He loves to cook: he particularly likes making desserts. My aunt would cook for the family, but she really didn’t enjoy it, and since he did enjoy it, he probably ended up doing most of the cooking, and that was fine with both of them. There is no one model for how “it’s supposed to be.” As Joan Rivers once said, “Show me in the Bible where it says, ‘Woman cooks, man eats,’ and I’ll do it. Show me where it says, ‘And Bathsheba went forth and basted,’ and I’ll do it.”
In our home, the SmockLady and I both like to cook. I think that’s a good thing, because with six children, people always need to eat, and foisting all the cooking duties on one person, forcing that person to cook three meals a day for eight people, would be cruel and unusual punishment. Being married to her has meant an introduction to many of the foods she enjoys cooking, from her barbecued shrimp and smoked oysters (she grew up on the Gulf Coast) to her authentic Scottish shortbread (an ancient family recipe, which, no, you may not have, but she will make some for you). It was a batch of that shortbread, actually, that made me decide to ask her to marry me. It was in spite of my chicken cacciatore that she agreed. (It was not the food itself–I don’t think!–but the mess that I left in the kitchen and didn’t bother to clean up. I hope I have since learned to be a little more considerate, but I know I still mess up in that department.)
There is a rather large Dutch family that we know of–a large Dutch family: imagine that–who have older children now. The teenagers in that family are now largely responsible for the meal prep. The oldest son in particular really enjoys this task. As a matter of fact, he and one of his friends (also a guy) went to see a demonstration by Paula Deen! I think that’s great.
The SmockLady is much better at it than I am, but I do enjoy it; however, when I cook for the children, my meals are often of the lackluster “school lunch program” variety: a meat, some vegetables, some form of bread, and something to drink. Nutritious, but not very fun. But I love to learn more and more about a host of subjects, and cooking is one of them, so I try to expand my horizons from time to time. (BTW thanks again to whoever sent me the gift subscription to Cook’s Illustrated! The latest one arrived yesterday.)
I like to cook for a number of reasons. First (and probably most importantly), I like to be able to help out. If the SmockLady has been taking care of the children all day (especially during the school year, since she is homeschooling and taking care of a preschooler and a baby at the same time), and I’ve been behind a desk all day, who deserves a break more? The old “slippers and pipe” treatment doesn’t quite make sense to me. (Although I sure wish I still had my pipe, but I digress.) Second, it can be a stress-reliever for me. It can get my mind off negative or troubling thoughts. Putting a meal together, even something mundane like my “school lunch program” dinners, can be therapeutic. Third, I like to eat, and I love to try new dishes. I think it’s fun. I hope that the division of labor in this department in our home will have a positive impact on our children, particularly our sons.
Here are three of my current favorite sites right now:
Maybe, if I have some more time on my hands one of these days (job #2 has pretty much eliminated that), I’ll be able to try some new things and report on them here.
I know Mark has recently had a big promotion at work and has similarly not been able to post any recipes, but when he does, take note!
So how about y’all? Who out there likes to cook? (Chef, with a name like “Chef”, we know you must.) What do you like to cook? Why do you like to cook?