Quit Asking Her To Cook Just Because She’s A Woman
When I was growing up in my house, the men never cooked. Gender roles were well-defined and traditional. Mom made dinner, sister helped, and us men worked outside. My grandmother owned a restaurant, a small diner in a neighboring town, and there, she was not only the proprietor, but also the cook as well. Over 12 hours a day she would spend in her restaurant’s kitchen, cooking up customer orders of classic American cuisine.
Needless to say, I loved mom’s cooking. Her tacos are the reason for my love affair with them to this day. Her porkchops are to die for, and her chicken adobo is some of the best in my hometown of Seaside. Especially when you put it over white rice. As my sister got older and she began to handle her own in the kitchen, I loved her cooking as well. And my grandmother? Forget about it. That woman can win Chopped, Iron Chef, and Top Chef at the same time.
But if there was one lesson I took from my years growing up with women who could cook, it was that this was a privilege and not a right to be had simply because I was a male and they were females. My Pop, as manly as he was, would occasionally remind me that it was no one’s responsibility to feed me, a woman’s especially. “Don’t let someone tell you it’s a woman’s job to cook,” he said. “You can feed yourself.” Every now and then if it was just the two of us at the house, he would drive his point home by making me go with him to the grocery store and pick up some cornish game hens. “Bachelor food,” he called it. “Put these in the oven, let them cook, make some rice, some veggies, there you go. This is how I survived when I didn’t have a woman. You’ll do the same.”
The cornish game hens came out right, though not tasty. They needed salt, pepper, flavor. Another time, he made me some boxed pasta, fettucini alfredo, the one that comes with a pack of sauce, and also some hot dogs which he cut up and mixed in with the pasta. If you think this is something you feed a baby, you’re right. But I was 14. To this day it remains the most disgusting meal I ever had. I sometimes think back to that dinner and wonder if I was on punishment and just didn’t know it, but Pop wasn’t really emphasizing the skills of being your own chef, as much as he was the ability to be my own chef and not let a woman affect my hunger pangs.
Still, I let my entire childhood and teenage years go by without ever taking a crack at cooking myself dinner. I was a terrible cook. My sister and mom joked that if there was a contest as to who can make the best bowl of cereal, I’d definitely win. In middle school I took a cooking class, for which I needed a tutor. When I moved out to attend college, I lived in dorms all four years, and remained on the college meal plan.
Not untiL I started living on my own, at the age of 22, did I decide to really apply the lesson my Pop taught me. It was a revelation of sorts prompted by something I was going through with a girl I was dating.
She was a great cook. Only weeks into our affair and she was whooping me up some legendary meals. But things went cold for a good week between us. Why is not important, but I remember the first two days of that silence between us as being some of my hungriest days ever. It’s not like I wasn’t eating at all, but slices of pizza, hot dogs, and Wendy’s does not a good diet make. By Wednesday I had enough, not of our silence, but of my own self-commiserating meal plan so I decided to take matters into my own hands, literally.
Today, I would say I’m a competent cook, one who will put my scrambled eggs up against anybody’s. I’m not a great on the fly cook who can just take whatever is in the fridge and pantry and turn it into dinner. But I have a few basic dishes committed to memory and with my subscription to Bon Appetit, people can tell I’m into following a good recipe every now and then. Not only have I learned to cook for myself, but I’ve learned to enjoy it as well.
There’s a sense of empowerment that comes from cooking your own meals. I’ve dated a lot of women who feel their role is to cook for their man, and I always tell them, that’s only their role if they can cook well. Knowing how to cook for myself and for any woman I’m dating has helped me avoid not only self-starvation but also, disastrous meals from the opposite sex.
I have dated a lot of women who can’t cook worth a damn and it’s hilarious when they admit this because it’s almost like they’re ashamed even though they shouldn’t be. Those same women have sometimes tried, and whenever I’ve witnessed such a thing, it’s more fascinating than any nature show on the National Geographic channel You want comedy? Watch a woman who can’t cook try to cook. Want drama and sadness? Eat the food of a woman who can’t cook.
I don’t ever ask a woman I’m dating if she can cook, I ask her if she enjoys cooking. The difference is the difference between skill and talent. A woman who can cook has the skills, a woman who enjoys cooking has the talent.
Know the difference, men.
If you don’t want to cook for yourself because you feel that’s a woman’s job, RIP to your palette. But if your woman isn’t a good cook, you’re living a half life.
Love is a very potent ingredient, and because you love your woman you actually think her Goya seasoned tilapia with frozen vegetables is better than what you can get at some restaurant. The unfortunate thing is, no matter what she puts in front of you, you still think it’s not as good as what your Mom used to make, and that’s unfair to your woman. It should never be about whether or not a woman can cook better than your mother so much as it’s about a woman being able to cook her own way, separate from your mother. You need to stop assessing your woman based on whether or not she did her “job” in the kitchen and more on the results. Food is too big of a deal to be handing out participation awards.
A woman who enjoys cooking is going to know to ask you what type of fish you want and if you don’t know, she’s going to make a choice between sea bass or salmon. Tilapia will never touch your plate. Instead of vegetables, she’s hooking you up with a side salad or putting it over a bed of sauteed spinach. And if she comes with the kale or the brussel sprouts with bacon, well my friend, you should go ring shopping.
Men, do yourself two favors:
Learn how to cook well for yourself, if you don’t already. It’s important because you need to give your palette a standard by which to grade these women who come into your life.
Find a woman who enjoys cooking for herself and others. Quit giving your woman a basic test by seeing if she’ll go in the kitchen and do a job. Taste the food and ask yourself, is this type of dinner I want to eat for the rest of my life?
For my folks in NYC, on Thursday, July 19, I am hosting a free event at the Schomburg in Harlem entitled, “Blogging While Writing.” I’m very proud of this event, as it’s something I proposed to the good people at the Schomburg back in the Spring. Now it’s actually happening. Once again, it’s free. More details, including information on how to RSVP, by clicking here. PLEASE come out!
Also for folks who live in NYC: In yesterday’s “New York Post” I did an article about long distance dating within the city. The purpose was to discuss this somewhat taboo issue New Yorkers have with dating people who live outside of their borough or “too far” in spite of living in the same city. We put a poll up to get some opinions about this, so if you can please, check out the article (it’s not terribly long) and weigh in on the poll, I would greatly appreciate it. Link to article below
What’s your limit: City limits
Even in claustrophobic NYC, a crosstown romance can mean a long-distance relationship