Monday, October 19, 2009

The Gender Gap of Cooking

In this amusing column, Washington Post columnist John Kelly exposes the gender divide in the kitchen. One spouse or partner generally cooks the day-in, day-out meals, while the other one cooks only when he or she is in the mood to dabble.

But that may not be the only difference. Does the kitchen also feed men's addiction to gadgets? Apparently.

Kelly writes:
... most men approach cooking as though it was a hobby, not an obligation. To us, cooking -- just like golf or woodworking or photography -- involves getting to buy stuff -- not stuff you can eat, but stuff you can play with. Tools.

Sometimes, I'll want to cook something but am stymied by the lack of proper equipment. I'll sigh loudly as I open drawers and cupboards, searching in vain for the exotic device I saw on TV. I think I might cook more often if only I had a ceramic ginger grater, a stainless-steel cream-whipper and my own collection of brining bags. And I'll never understand how we've lived all these years without a salad spinner. All that wet lettuce. . . . The horror!

For the family's main mealmaker, however, cooking isn't a hobby. It's a relentless grind. It's the perpetual acquisition of ingredients, the unceasing sweep of the minute hand as dinner time draws near, the constant reminder that not every person likes every thing.

This is why My Lovely Wife gives me the looks. I'm a dabbler, a poseur. I can painstakingly create the occasional meal but I can't be depended upon to regularly feed my family. And yet I want extra validation for my feeble efforts.

Last year, I bought the largest Dutch oven Le Creuset makes. This was ostensibly a gift for my wife, but really it was something I lusted after. This was the apotheosis of my tool lust: expensive, heavy, hewn from the virgin iron escarpments of France. It was so big a circus family could live inside.
The entire column is worth reading. For what it's worth, I take issue with one of Kelly's observations: everyone does not add vanilla extract to pancake batter.

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