Gender studies in the kitchen.

recipes every woman

Today, something funny came in the mail, and it set me thinking.

100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know, from the editors of Glamour Magazine (who else!?), is a blithely feminine romp.  The recipes have titles like “Wake Up and Make Up Sausage Biscuits” (for the morning after an argument) and “Get Over Him Berry Parfait,” not to mention the subtitle’s eponymous “Engagement Chicken”. Why is it called Engagement Chicken?  Because, it’s implied, he’ll propose when he tastes it.  What we usually call “jus,” the delicious drippings from the pan?  That’s “marry me juice”.  Recipes are ranked 1 stiletto, 2 stilettos etc.   What color is the book? Pink, of course.

recipes every man

Getting this frothy book in the mail rang a dim bell in the archives of my mind. I pounded up the stairs to the library and went to my single-subject cookbook shelves and indeed, there it was under “M” for Men–a slim black volume by my friend Susan Russo and her co-author Brett Cohen: Recipes Every Man Should Know.   The chapters speak for themselves: “Hearty Breakfast Classics,” “Sandwiches, Burgers & Snacks,” “Meat and Potato Dinners,” “Beer, Bacon, and Bar Food”.    There are diagrams and line drawings of kitchen equipment.  There are quotes from The Godfather.    And there is not a spot of color, from the first page to the last.

Now, it would be easy for me to go into a rant at this point. Does “Engagement Chicken” mean a woman can only entice a man to marry her if she promises to feed him for the rest of her life?   Is it fair to assume that every thought that goes through a woman’s pretty little head revolves around a man?  Well, of course not, no more than it is to assume a man doesn’t enjoy a salad from time to time.

Nevertheless, both books have a point.  Yes, recipes can be distraction and consolation in your love life.  Yes, kitchen schematics are helpful.  Yes, cooking is a wonderful asset to bring to a marriage.  Yes, bacon tastes good.

The fact is, you could entitle both books “Recipes Everyone Should Know.” But, funny thing is, I bet you would probably only sell half as many.


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