April 06, 2010

Cooking Up a Storm

I am pleased to note that men are not strangers to the kitchen. In fact, it seems that there is something of a movement to get us there, through various forms of appeal. Most of the celebrity chefs on our goggle boxes are men of some description, with more or less refinement. Last night I saw Anthony Bourdain extolling everyone to get into the kitchen and properly cook. This morning I found a book, with accompanying blog, called Men’s Cooking Manual, which looks unnecessarily like the mechanics guide to a family car. In short, men are cooking. But I’m worried it’s all fire and grunting.

Man Vs. Food

Eating isn’t about quantity, it’s about quality. It’s also about traditional values and some form of local or national belonging. There are an awful lot of gluttons, posing as gourmands, and the gourmets are left out of the equation. Skip around the Food Network for five minutes and you’ll find all kinds of strange overweight men eating as much as possible. Man vs. Food, for example, is really not a sound message; especially not for Americans. If this is how we eat, then I am suspicious about how we cook. Is there an awareness of art? Is there an appreciation of skill? Are palates being cultivated? Is heritage being honoured and preserved? Is the necessary time being taken? Cuisine merits respect. Do we respect it?

One of the forgotten heroes?

Men should cook, but men should cook properly. The aforementioned blog appeals to a masculine love of sharp knives, tools, swearing and sex. First and foremost, however, should be a passion for food, what it does, and what it means. A passion for creation, and for the instruments of creation, is not effeminate. An active involvement in traditional tastes ought to come with a sense of duty. Lighting up the grill alone will simply not suffice.

4 comments:

  1. I agree, but this isn't about cooking alone or even much of a surprise to me. It's more just the "cooking" denomination of the consumer society, where everything is about how much you can get for as little time, effort, and skill as possible. I saw a Wendy's commercial last night that said "Since when does "Value" mean getting less for your money?" ("less", of course, meaning the size of your burger) which sums this up better than I could.

    Still, though, there are people who realize and appreciate the importance of quality and effort at least.

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  2. Thank you Marvin. I have many entries along these lines, each of which might be thought of as the thin end of one big wedge. I'm glad you're on board.

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  3. I've always thought it was so strange how men "hate" the kitchen but then most of the best chefs are men :)

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  4. My dear Patty,
    I am afraid that 'hatred' in this case is merely a red herring. The real emotion is fear, and it is wrought by feelings of inadequacy. Men do hate to feel inadequate. Yet instead of doing what men do - jumping in and getting to grips with things - they lazily allow an utterly unwarranted gender stereotype to perpetuate. This is feeble. Men who claim to hate in this way really merit our disdain.

    The 'best chefs' probably are not too special. They merely worked hard, tackled challenges, and confronted fear. It is a model for living, perhaps.

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