Women wonder why guys stay away from the stove, and leave them to do all the heavy kitchen lifting. And after my last post, my wife hinted I should take a look. Why won’t men cook? Well, what she said was more like, why don’t take your own advice and help out more in the kitchen and put out the garbage while you’re at it. So, I took the suggestion to head over to the laptop and come up with this list. Throw in your own ideas.
1. Taking Directions I can count on one hand the number of men on the planet who like being told what to do, and how to do it. We put up with it at work or home when we have to. But the natural tendency when facing a list of steps that need to be followed in some order, is to ignore the directions and try and figure it out on our own, or, skip as many steps as possible.
2. Learning Curve The average guy believes that cooking is basically magic, and he’s the audience. Cow parts go in, beef stroganoff comes out. Bulbs and leaves are transformed into flavors. Pastry. I mean, tell me that pastry isn’t magic. So, when the magician pulls us from the audience and says we need to fill in for the evening performance, that blank look isn’t faked.
3. Epic Fail Nothing motivates a man less than the opportunity to publicly jump a motorcycle just about half way across the Grand Canyon. Or spend mealtime trying to explain how dinner was supposed to have turned out. And tasted.
4. Cleanup Most modern recipes will tell you right up front how long it will take to prepare a dish. And keep absolutely silent about the time you’ll need to clean up the mess you just made. The fact is, after all the trouble to make something, you’re only halfway done in the kitchen. And men love kitchen cleaning the same way we love periodontal cleaning. Any surprise that Teflon was invented by a guy?
5. Getting Out of Trouble There’s a certain confidence men have, that we can get out of most trouble we get into. But when a cooking expedition starts to go bad, it’s a lot like doing the black diamond ski run backwards. This thing is only headed one direction, stopping is not an option, and you are just along for the ride. Yeah, let’s do this every night.
6. Payoffs Somewhere along the line women get that domestic activities, like cooking and caring for kids, go on day after day, in an endless cycle of repetition. Guys, more tuned to crossing a finish line, catching something, or earning an atta-boy, are disoriented and mystified by having to cook again as a daily reward for doing it yesterday. It takes years of hard and dedicated monastic training to accept that the doing IS the payoff.
7. King of the Hill Who set up the cupboards and drawers in your kitchen? And decides what goes where? What would happen if you had a mind to re-arrange things the way you think is best? If you’re sharing a kitchen, odds are you’re sharing her kitchen. With her. And while you may have guest privileges, when it comes to what’s on the menu, what’s in the fridge, and what’s healthy or not, chances are you’re still on probation for the number two slot.
8. Patience Many of the finest tasting foods take time to cook, and get better from all that cooking time. Waiting while food cooks takes patience. Knowing this, men have invented TV dinners (Gerry Thomas), the microwave oven (Percy L. Spencer), Hot Pockets (the Merage brothers, Paul and David), and fast food (1921, Walter A. Anderson and cook Edgar Waldo “Billy” Ingram, White Castle). Any questions?
9. Mom Face it, we learned early that food came from her. For at least a decade and a half we were conditioned to expect she would make food appear whenever we got hungry. We’re hungry now. And last time we checked in the mirror, we didn’t look anything like mom.
10. Just Too Feminine Probably thanks to number 9, it’s impossible to shake the deep-set notion that the kitchen is a female clubhouse, and what we’d look like in a pink apron. Men who want to cook have to go open a restaurant business, or call themselves Iron Chefs, to compensate. Doesn’t everybody pause just a moment to wonder why George Foreman hung up the gloves and made a kitchen appliance?
I have to ask myself, writing this, when it comes right down to it, are any of these good reasons? Maybe all the reasons men won’t cook are really just excuses, or fears to overcome. You’ve probably got your own list, so feel free to share, here or at the forum on my companion, how-to site, Dad’s In the Kitchen!.