Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Women are from the Kitchen, Men are from I-can’t

Also Published on Huffington Post India


www.nairaland.com

I love watching cooking shows on TV. For every Nigella who clogs a thousand arteries as she adds a mammoth cube of butter to the bubbling sauce, there’s a Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Vikas Khanna, Heston Blumenthal vying for our tastebud’s attention. In the world of star chefs with cult following, there are more men than women shining bright in the galaxy. Yet, in real life, men who cook (other than fixing Maggi) are as rare a sight as Modi in India. Imagine being invited over for dinner by your friends and you see the husband slogging away at the kitchen while the wife regales you with stories! In all probability your eyes will pop out in surprise, much like a champagne cork.

Of course there do exist men who love to cook for themselves and their family, but they are more an exception than the norm. I am lucky to be married to the exception. When I tell my friends he’s a fabulous cook and I get to have breakfast in bed on weekends, I get the ‘you must be kidding’ look from them. Interestingly, you’ll hardly hear any man say, he’s lucky to have a mom/sis/wife who cooks. It’s because cooking is still considered a woman’s job. In the age of equality where a woman is as busy as her partner, she may not have to see the inside of her kitchen too often thanks to her cook. But keeping the house clean and the family well-fed even if she’s fed up of it, is still her responsibility. Little wonder it’s the woman and not the man who gets into ‘deep depression’ if her hired helps ditches her for greener pastures.

Behind every successful woman is her hardworking bai.

Frankly I don’t blame men who can’t differentiate cumin powder from coriander and don’t know where the spoons are kept in the kitchen. I blame the women in their lives who insist on treating them like babies incapable of taking care of themselves. Why else would a wife who leaves for a month long vacation at her parents slog for weeks to cook and freeze meals for her dear husband? Why else would a man who’s on a work tour, buy new shirts instead of bothering to wash the used ones? Because all these years he’s gotten away with it!

Women have a perfectly logical excuse for this ineptness. His presence in the kitchen is more a headache than a help. If he cooks, he leaves the kitchen in a mess! A lot of women’s idea of bagging the ‘best wife of the millennium’ trophy is to make their husbands ‘the most inept man’ of the century. And they apply the same logic to their own kids as well. If I make my Twinkle cook a meal, I’ll become a terrible Mom. 



Then there are men who are loath to take up cooking. Worse, they are rather proud of it. Far from being grateful for the piping hot meals he gets served on the dining table, he thinks of housework as inferior. And if his friends beg to differ, he’ll promptly call them henpecked.

I also know of instances where the man wants to learn cooking but his mom won’t let him with the standard response “I’m not dead yet”. Well, you will be, when you are bedridden, surrounded by family members who can only boil water for tea. What happens when your dearest son moves out of the house? Have you taught him enough to survive on his own?

Do women think if they stop over-feeding their families, they will be loved less? Is it the desire to remain indispensable to the ones we love that clouds our judgment? It’s perfectly okay to love cooking and to prepare special meals for the ones your love. All my happy childhood memories are centred around the yummy mishtees Maa used to make on festivals. But till I was in college, I couldn’t cook to save my life. Frankly, as a working woman my mom was too busy to teach me cooking. It was my aunt’s comment that sent me scurrying to the kitchen armed with recipe books. She was baffled that a college going girl had to wait for her mum to get back home and prepare lunch. It was thanks to my aunt’s taunt, I developed a love for cooking. And I will be always be thankful to her.

I made sure I didn’t repeat the same mistake with my daughter. She started fixing snacks for herself when she was still in school. In fact, she’d be so excited about her experiments in the kitchen, she’d wake me up from my afternoon nap to show me pictures of her masterpieces. Before she left for college, she was expected to cook a meal a week for all of us. Yes, initially I was worried she might cut herself or worse burn the house down. But if I came home late from work or had to leave the house for an unexpected emergency, I was safe in the knowledge she’d be able to take care of herself.

So, let’s get this clear. Cooking is NOT a woman’s job. It’s a life skill that everyone must possess. If you can’t cook, you don’t brag about it. Instead, you ought to make an attempt to acquire some basic cooking skills. When you’re finally confident of not slicing off your finger as you chop onions and veggies, you surprise her with a meal. Just one tip, don’t leave the kitchen looking like a hurricane passed through it. If you do, prepare your eardrums for her a high decibel dressing down from her. The good news is, you can always order a pair of hearing aids on Amazon. They always have a ‘flat-50%-off’ sale going on.





67 comments:

  1. Wonderful post. I think I need to cook more other than making breakfast on Sunday mornings to my wife and kid.

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    1. Which is great! I am sure they appreciate it.

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  3. Exactly. I have male friends who got married so someone does the laundry and cooks for them. When they are on vacation, their Moms do it. This is a mindset. I dont even put back my 4 year old son's shoes in the shoe rack once he returns from school. I make him do it. I dont want him to get the idea that women exist to clean up after them. Because mindsets develop at this age.

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    1. Smart girl. And believe me, he'll thank you later.

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  4. Oh yes, my pet peeve. Cooking is a life skill as much as driving is for both genders. I am initiating my sons into cooking because I love it so and because well everyone ought to know cooking. Another issue I see is that because women have been pushed to cook all these years, some of them openly denounce it and even ridicule it. I find that terrible too. Cooking is as much a life skill for women as men so at least know basic cooking. Besides, cooking is essential to set healthy food habits for your family. If you ridicule food or prefer to eat out then you may end up compromising health as well. I really do hope that more men take it up seriously. Oh and recently I went to a friend's place where the husband was in the kitchen all the while whipping up stuff while the wife sat and chatted with us. :)

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    1. Cooking is therapeutic and you can get as creative with the recipes.

      I guess a lot of the passion comes from how much you love eating. My younger brother could fix pooris for himself when he was all of 11. And I could barely light the gas.

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  5. I have a lot of work after commenting on this fabulous post-have to first share it with all my groups, especially the family ones! When will the men wake up to realize this honest truth, that they have to learn to fend for themselves on the kitchen front too. As a wife, I have done my bit, trained my totally kitchen incompetent man into a reasonably good cook. The son is a tougher nut to crack....but I am at it! Great post Purba!

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    1. Time to push them from the cradle to the ladle :D

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  6. I still wonder how and why Cooking became part of my wife- Job description and no matter how much I complain, crib, go on a strike, threaten to make karela everyday, I end up cooking or eating food ordered outside :(. Your next post needs to be on innovative ways to get the men to cook!

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    1. Refuse to have sex with him :D

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  7. That was such an amusing post! I, too, have written a similar one on husbands who can cook, that's because I have been lucky to find for myself a chef at home! True, everyone needs to learn to cook. It is a life skill that can be of use anytime anywhere and for anyone! We encourage our 6 year old nephew to try hia hand at preparing simple things that do not require the gas stove. He too enjoys the whole culinary experience! I think every mother should teach her son to cook. It will surely make her future daughter-in-law one happy woman! :-)

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    1. Oh, absolutely! And she'll never stop thanking you.

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  9. I get breakfast in bed only when I am not well. :(
    Maybe I should downgrade his rating. :)
    Given the times we live in, cooking is a life skill for both men and women. Well said Purba.

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  10. I am lucky to be married to an awesome cool too!! During my pregnancy, he woke up every morning to cook fresh food for my lunch and even packed my lunch box.
    Love him to pieces

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    1. These thoughtful gestures stay with us for a lifetime. And men still think diamond is a girl's best friend :p

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  11. What an awesome post! I totally can relate to it. I've never had to cook before I started working and staying away from home made me learn to cook. It is a life skill and while I don't enjoy cooking I now have improved a lot. I am married to a man who loves his time in kitchen and I too get my breakfast in bed. Thankfully neither of us believes cooking to be a quality defined by gender. However we do get a lot of sneers and raised eyebrows and even rude comments from time to time.

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    1. You ignore them. They are fools who know no better.

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  12. I am a dragon mother in that department and used to be pulled up by MIL for making the boys do it :) In our home all cook and the men do a better job, including the L&M. I learnt long ago to close my eyes at the disaster area when it was happening and standing there with hands on hips till it was cleared up. I am sure things are changing, though it might not be so visible. In fact, girls today are more reluctant to learn cooking -- they want to avenge centuries of women being pushed to the kitchen, I guess. I know hundreds of such instances.

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    1. I'll attribute it to skewed notions of feminism.

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  13. This was an absolutely delightful read as I was taunted for engaging in child labour the other day by my neighbours. Reason: My almost 10-year-old was making the chappatis for the entire family. I am also thankful to my MIL for having taught the man to be self-sufficient in all areas including cooking, washing and cleaning. But as you mentioned, many look down upon the wife when the man cooks and serves. As always, enjoyed reading it. And I loved your comparison of men cooking to 'Modi in India'. :-D

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    1. I have been accused of being a heartless mom when I rejoined work after my daughter started going to playschool.

      When you know what's right, what others think should not matter.

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  14. Completely agree with what you say. Cooking is a LIFE SKILL!

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  15. I still tell my friends that I wish to marry a cook, because I am nowhere close to mastering the 'life skill' (Although I can cook just about enough for survival)! Mom's occasional office tours have compelled my dad and me to be acquainted with the kitchen (Here's an account of it- http://www.dashyspeaks.blogspot.in/2015/09/a-week-with-kitchen.html )

    And yea, I'm glad for this post, because many guys feel they don't need to learn cooking since they are guys.

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    1. That's where we step-in. We educate them.

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  16. This is your first post that I have ever read, not because you're not good. I think you're brilliant, but I have been like Alice in Wonderland. In the blogging hemisphere but lost :). Exactly, like expected after I saw you deliver at the #BNLF meet, humour,satire and yet delivered.

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    1. I felt the same when I joined the blogging community 6 years back.

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  17. Thanks to technology in the 21st century, I have dispensed with cooking for good. I don't ask my wife to cook for me either (and she wouldn't in any case!). Now this is what I have for 80% of all my meals: https://www.soylent.com/

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    1. how can you replace a piping hot delicious meal with this!

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  18. There is good news Purba. There are many men entering the fort recently and they are very good at it. They also clean the area after the mission. But they don't want to be regular in this exercise because they want their counterparts to feel proud of being superior cooks.

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  19. Am fortunate to have learnt to cook early so thankfully am not on the hit list, Purba:)

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    1. Hahaha..I feel like a terrorist.

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  20. Well, I so agree with you that cooking is a 'life-skill' If only everyone understood that, it won't be considered a woman's job anymore.

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    1. The best part of my weekend is when I get my breakfast in bed.

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  21. It's all in the mind. We pamper our kids so much that we forget to teach them the most basic things. Hope we don't repeat the mistakes of our mother and mother in law.

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    1. If we do, we'll be the ones who'll suffer.

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  22. Loved the many excuses you have listed here. My husband does cook when I am not around. He learnt it when he came to US for studies. Many men learn it that way I guess. He does it fairly well too, but he is reluctant to do it when I am around. Like most men I guess...:D...

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    1. You just have to make sure you cook such lousy meals that he's forced to enter the kitchen.

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  23. My husband cooks because otherwise he would have to eat my food! :P

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  24. I can now even multitask, which is cook more than one dish at a time (cos you know we men try to normally focus on doing one dish at a time) while simultaneously keeping the kitchen clean. But you are absolutely right, many men (and some women) treat it as a mark of pride that they can't and don't cook. They don't get it. There is nothing better than watching your loved ones demolish a meal in minutes that you slaved some hours for. Be brave cook and experiment. As Chef Gusteau says in Ratatouille "Anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great."

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    1. And you've put it across so beautifully, Subroto. I hope a few get inspired by just reading your comment.

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  25. guess..what I have already involved my son to cook..he brings me all the masala dabbas..does his own imaginary cooking..

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    1. Why should only girls get to play with pots and pans and have all the fun!

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  26. So true.. and the beginning of all the stereotypes begins from the kitchen itself... - Man's Job, Woman's job.. ...and everything else

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    1. But my husband still does a better job of fixing stuff at home.

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  27. I totally love this post.. cos am a bad bad cook but fortunately my hubby enjoys cooking.
    But u know what few men are very so shocked when they heard my hubby does most of the cooking at home. They even judged me n said why dont u cook, its your job. It was shocking to see their stereo typical thinking ..
    Anyway Great post !

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    1. If the couple has no problem with the arrangement, I don't see why it should bother anyone.

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  28. Actually Purba when we followed the custom of not letting the women enter the kitchen during the menstruation days men were forced to learn to cook he he he :) not that I am advocating that but some customs do have some positive outcomes as well...

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    1. I'm sure this custom was the brainchild of some smart woman.

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  29. Very well said Purba. Cooking is a Life Skill that ought to be learnt by both men and women. Men do well as chefs at Hotels around the globe, However, as husbands they fail to understand that having a good partnership in the kitchen adds support to the partner and more love to the family.

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  30. Yes, absolutely. A life saving skill everyone must possess. I dont know why so many wives/mothers want their husbands or sons not to learn the basic essentials of cooking . Many men, as you said, feel proud of not knowing anything. Probably it's time to show them the mirror :)

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    1. Youngsters, women, men - this is applicable to all.

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  31. Well... my cook is a male(: ... I am surprised you got a college going kid with you as you look young in the photo... thesedays Men learn cooking if they leave home. I know a guy who is running a home for slum kids and he cooks for them all by himself. My bro books for his wife though he never does cooking when he comes home. Well...my Mom won't let me cook a tall... but thesedays I cook because well I like to cook as well... watching food food channel and being a fan of cheif Harpal and all... your right cooking is a skill and a hobby not a tedious task and is a art... I don't think Mom's should not allow their husbands or sons not to cook, I think it is a great activity to so together as well...otherwise it will be boring the cooking... but I see a lot of men cooking well thesedays but thats because they are away from their homes.

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    1. Women with college going kids are not allowed to look young?

      Like you said, cooking is not a chore and can be turned into a fun activity where the entire family can pitch in.

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    2. I was giving you a compliment... goodday

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  32. Humorous and hard hitting at the same time. Fortunately, I have been interested in cooking from a young age (thanks partly to my mom who liked having me around in the kitchen) and it has become a passion for me now. And it is actually something that makes me very happy when I cook a good meal for my loved ones. But you are right.. still there is a prevalent regressive mindset around cooking among men. It should just be viewed as a good and important skill to possess.

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    1. And every woman loves a man who can cook a fine meal for her. Makes her feel cherished.

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  33. Very well said Purba. Yes, I totally agree that cooking is a life skill. In these times when most students and the working population stay away from home, it's preposterous to even think that kitchen is just a woman's domain.

    I am extremely grateful to my MIL for teaching her son the art of cooking... result- he is way way better than me. Somehow he can identify the amount of salt and spice needed just by color and smell. To me it's like magic:P

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  34. THankfully I do my own cooking and I can make a Wicked Chicken curry :)

    Bikram's

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