Should A Man Be in a Kitchen?

Women are seen dominating kitchens in many societies, but the scenario changes when a man enters the same kitchen. He tries to show attributes of his maleness which are a mix of emotions and his intense drive to prove his domicile in kitchen too.   

Since I was a child, I had seen my mother in the Kitchen, but that day was different when I visited my parent’s house with my hubby for a family get together. We were all seated on our round dining table, while my dad and hubby began to quip on current politics. Between the talks, he got up from this chair and went straight towards the kitchen. My eyes sparkled and lips swished when I saw a bowl of my favorite pudding in his hands, he vehemently declared, “I cooked it”.

 I looked at my mom in disbelief, is that true, “She replied, today he was the boss of the kitchen, tapping all my precious kitchen commodities into use to prepare these dishes; mayonnaise, pasta, spring rolls.” I looked straight at my Mom’s face, as my Dad, served the pudding with his mustache up making a perfect expression of an army General. That was the only day when my dad had entered the kitchen and prepared something. I still could not believe this change over of the roles. Fearing it might be tasteless; I ate it but jumped with joy, oh! The pudding taste so delicious. I hugged my dad, as my Mom eyed me with looks of envy. I had never hugged my mom like that even though she had been preparing best dishes for me.  There was no one in the family who is as good in cooking as my Mom.  She retorted, “I am here too, I hugged her too for the superb dinner. But it was my Dad’s day, as he had prepared so many dishes. I was overwhelmed with joy”.    

Pudding had become highly valued commodity gaining a status of the well deserved protagonist which got a shape not by women but by a man’s hand.  Now back in my home, I gave my husband a sarcastic look, and he winced at me. That dinner of the full moon night has become now my alibi to explode over his maleness chauvinism. Why would he not also cook, I quipped. And my heart would say maybe it is a threat to masculinity, and it would continue to be.

Well, now the men who have dominated the professional kitchens are slowly entering the female own work place, the kitchen at home. Two days later my friend called me and told me about it. Her cousin love cooking, he has welcomed you to try his new dish, which he called Tadka Baji, a new vegetable treat it would be, he claimed.  He had set himself free from gender stereotype referred to as “metrosexual”, a freedom from sexed marketing tag. Hearing it I exclaimed in delight and narrated her in my usual gossip tone, about my dad’s preparation. She was taken by surprise. And the scene of my dad’s experimental venture appeared before my eyes, his picking up of a kitchen knife, chopping onion like a scientist ready to experiment. During a short nap at noon I had a similar vision of my husband, his going in a kitchen, picking up the kitchen knife to cut the cabbage, but more than a cook, he looked like a butcher ready to spear the knife in someone’s heart. I shrieked and opened my eyes and went straight into my kitchen to see my maid washing utensils. She humbly asked me, “Kuch Chahiya Mem Sahib”, “Do you want anything Mam”. I said No, thanks and picked a glass of water to drink.  

Sunday morning as I woke up and went into the kitchen. I was surprised, Oh! you here, “what are you doing and he vehemently smiled, you had always been complaining, I do not do anything, so today I am preparing breakfast for all of us”. I only uttered oh! Yea, happy but worried. At least he had realized he should also do some cooking, but how he would do it and what he would prepare?  He would leave lot of mess for me to clean up. “Shall I help, I asked him?”, and he winced with negation, no intrusion please. I looked around, everything was scattered, spices, onion, tomato, cabbage, ready to be peeled and as I assumed, there was recipe book lying near the gas burner. “Hmm, I retorted meanwhile I will go for a shower”. When I returned, he was ready with the Grilled Sandwiches, Omelet, vegetable Kabbab, and Juice.  Amazing, I nodded. We both then placed these invented delicacies on our dining table, ready to serve our palates. They appeared to be lavishing. With still apron on his waist, my husband with a gesture of a true British styled gentleman directed me to sit, “Here Ma’am, this is for you”. The sandwich was good but Kabbab got bit bitter, but like an obedient wife I meekly smiled and appreciated his efforts, “You are wonderful.” But in the kitchen as I had expected, there was the mess all over,  knife over the burner, dirty spoons on the slab, bits of cabbage here and there appearing to tear my ribs apart, burned pan mocking at me , and water sprinkled all over. I shrieked, “OMG,” what a mess! But he smiled and pulled me into his arms, I had prepared this for our love.”   I meekly replied Okay.  “Men are Men, I muttered”.  Later in the day, my mom too narrated the same story about her husband’s overture in the kitchen, and we both laughed.

No doubt many men of today are ready to have their day with the kitchen sorties. They would cut, chop, mix ingredients with the bit of professionalism and attitude. On the contrary for women it is their daily task which they do with perfection but not necessary with precision.

The gender stereotype is more entrenched in the kitchen, as the behavior and the way of cooking differ, especially conforming to the difference in the male brain and the female brain. The males try to bring order in all the situations while females are more emphatic and operate intuitively. Men love recipes but females follow their mind and heart. Men like to give the name to shopping task as sourcing.  They would have list of the ingredients to shop in their pockets. If they are not able to find their required ingredient they would rather abandon their recipe. They also know the art of substitution if they found similar ingredients of different brands they would rather buy an expensive one. Expensive product is much better but women will decide as per her budget.   

Back inside the kitchen, or we can say the station, their mental preparations are different too. May be the main difference can be seen in the different role models they carry in their heads. Men drive their intensity by thinking about a chef celebrity of famous TV show or a chef of an international fame who with the safety spectacles over his eyes and a blowtorch gives his ingredients an innovative shape. However when a women is cooking, she only think herself as a mother, a housewife or a good daughter-in-law. The household kitchen is not the men’s destined station this is what we all know since our birth, so how could we expect them to show similar tenacity as we show?

 It is his self-effaced earnestness that gives a voice and a decree. When the recipe works he becomes a genius, and when it does not work he would never trust it ever again like he would never trust his old moped that stopped giving the average. 
However, these gender clichés are now changing all over the globe, somewhere it is more and somewhere less, but it is also true that the space in the relationship between the couples is reducing.  A few months back a commercial of a dishwashing liquid had surprised viewers by telecasting couple washing the utensils. It cannot be real, we would bemuse, but it is also a fact that certain sense of partnership is creeping in household tasks but with a fun tangle and an obvious satirical note in it. If the OPED survey doubled, it is not difficult how women would take to these male intrusions into their dominance; a pointless bilious envy.

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