I don’t consider myself a fantastic cook, I like to think I’m adequate and can cook a decent tasting meal for a group of friends without anyone having to stop at Subway after they leave my house. While I may not be the best, I enjoy cooking. It relaxes me and I get a great sense of satisfaction out of being able to sit down and enjoy something I created myself, but this hasn’t always been the case.
I used to think I was really bad at cooking. Not for any reason in particular . . . maybe because I didn’t take time with it? Like, I would just throw something quick together and say, “this works.” Eventually the time came when I gave up on trying to be a good cook.
Giving up on cooking seemed to fit in well with my feminist politics. To me, cooking seemed like “women’s work,” like having children, getting married and wearing dresses. Cooking was strictly for stay-at-home moms and that just wasn’t me.
I’ve lived by myself since the age of 22 except for a few years when I lived with a boyfriend. He was a better cook than I was and didn’t seem to enjoy anything I cooked so I turned all control of the kitchen over to him.
When I lived on my own again, microwave dinner and bowls of cereal got old FAST. I decided it was time to try my hand at cooking once again. I was a successful woman in her 30s, I deserved a good meal at the end of the workday.
Several times a week, I tried a new recipe. I started with easy things like fish tacos and various pasta dishes until I was feeling more adventurous and tried more difficult dishes like chicken cordon blue, paella… I started seeking out intriguing recipes to try and if I failed, it was okay. The only person I had to impress was myself and I rarely felt like I made something that didn’t taste good.
Cooking wasn’t nearly as difficult or as much of a pain in the butt it had once seemed. I just needed to pay attention, follow directions and be kind to myself if things didn’t turn out perfect.
Over time I’ve come to appreciate the pleasure in the preparation of food. It also helps that I’m a health-conscious person, which means I care a lot more about what goes into the food I eat. I try to make food that is as close to whole as possible.
I’ve realized that my opinions about the gender politics of cooking were a bit extreme. There’s no reason why cooking should be seen as the responsibility of one gender, no more so than it should be seen as something that requires specialized training or that it has to be perfect. Cooking and eating is something every person on the earth needs to do in order to live. I don’t need to treat it as a rarefied art form to be practiced only by highly-trained French chefs, nor do I need to see it as thankless work performed only by miserable wives and mothers of the world.
I’ve realized that my former way of thinking was actually very misogynistic. By thinking that cooking was something only “other” women did, I was telling myself that it wasn’t important and that those women weren’t important. That they were “other” to me. This was wrong. Very wrong and I’m glad I was able to learn from this and change this way of thinking.
It’s okay to change your views. Not only do I enjoy cooking, I also enjoy cleaning and want to get married and have kids. These things don’t make me less of a feminist. If anything, I’m more open-minded and less of a judgmental jerk.