A big part of changing how we eat has involved changing how we buy food and make meals. Whether the task is simmering freshly-gleaned tomatoes for spaghetti sauce or baking chocolate-chip cookies from scratch, producing a product at home allows a cook to use ingredients from the neighborhood, region, or perhaps even their own backyard. This will probably come as no surprise to the seasoned locavores out there, but it’s been interesting for me, as a newcomer, to see this happen in my own house, with my own food. It is also in contrast to the nationwide trend, chronicled in a new study, of a shift in energy use from home consumers to food producers, as the manufacturers are handling more of the preparation and cooking.
I have a natural advantage here that has helped me adjust to this, in that I’m a handy, D-I-Y type of guy. I’ve fixed cars for a living; I work on bikes for a hobby; I’ve even made some simple furniture. I also learned from an early age that cooking was a right and proper thing for a guy to do. “Most of the great chefs are men,” my dad used to say as he made home fries or ox-tail soup. While I knew better than to believe everything he told me, his larger point was well-taken: cooking (and by extension, other household chores) is not “woman’s work,” and can actually be fun.
Again, I seem to be going against the grain. Even though celebrity chefs are like rock stars now and the glossy dude magazines highlight good food and great cooking in almost every issue, the Gallup poll numbers show husbands trailing wives in kitchen duties by something like 3 to 1. And while outdoor grilling is largely perceived in our culture as the man’s job, cooking indoors is reserved for the women. Why? The “meat/fire/spear” meme seems condescending to me; I’d rather be an Iron Chef than a caveman. But why do I have to be either? Can’t I just be a guy who likes to cook, and my wife be a woman who doesn’t?
ETA: I had referenced the wrong article about the energy-use shift. Canning’s full study is 39 pages, so I’ve linked to a summary article.