Men vs Women · Mindset

Following the Recipe

I am in the perhaps rare situation that my wife is a homemaker, and one who enjoys cooking. This was completely normal as little as thirty years ago but when I mention this today, I get told that I need to be “more inclusive” in my language. This is not a joke. I once casually dropped in a video call at work that my wife just came home with groceries and was about to prepare dinner. The context was that I was working from home, and it just so happened that the door to the apartment slammed shut, followed by a thud, due to a bag of groceries dropping to the floor. This could be heard in the call because my work area was close to the apartment door. One of my colleagues wondered if something happened at home and whether I would like to briefly excuse myself. My manager, who was also on the call, later reminded me that I should be mindful of “how I talk about my domestic situation” and of “perpetuating antiquated gender stereotypes”. Needless to say, I did not find it difficult to resign from that company.

Fast forward a couple of years, and I am cooking food at home again, albeit only about once a week. Often I don’t even look up any recipe at all and if I do, it is just to double check something, like the recommended temperature or time to keep something in the oven. As I prepared a beef roast the other day, I recalled two encounters with women that illustrate that cooking perhaps does not seem to come all that naturally to them.

There are some businesses that probably should not exist, such as the entire “meal-kit industry”. When I first heard about this, I thought that the concept was completely ridiculous, paying a premium to get the exact ingredients needed for a meal you have to cook yourself. Apparently, for the millennial consumer, it is too much to count cloves of garlic themselves. Imagine my surprise when some woman told me that those meal kits help her reducing waste as they contain only what she needs in order to prepare a meal, and exactly in the right quantities. In essence, this is the equivalent of painting by numbers. Probably, most of the people subscribing to those “meal kits” are women, and they surely feel mightily proud of themselves by cooking their own food, no thinking or improvisation necessary.

Women who cook their meals from scratch are not necessarily better. I once dated a woman who wanted to establish a routine of us “cooking together” at least once a week. This idea was charming at first, but the execution was such that I wondered whether I was dealing with a complete moron. Concretely, her approach to cooking was to look up pictures of dishes, then get a recipe, and afterwards follow said recipe step by step. If the recipe said you needed a certain spice, which you did not have, she freaked out and insisted that we needed to hurry to the supermarket and get it. It was beyond ridiculous. She had little understanding about the basics of cooking and was completely lost without slavishly following a recipe. Anyway, after she realized that her home-cooked meals looked nothing like what she saw on Instagram, she went back to getting frozen pizza and other crappy ready-made meals.

In contrast, all the men I know who cook their own food show much more insight than the typical woman, based on my anecdotal evidence. In any case, it is a bit odd that we traditionally associate cooking with women when all or almost all famous chefs are men, and even among the not so famous chefs, women surely are only a very small minority. The resourceful man keeps certain key ingredients at home and if something turns out to be missing then surely there is a substitute available. Besides, one of my pet peeves is that a lot of recipes recommend using far too many spices, and too much of them. In my view, they should be kept at an absolute minimum so that you can taste the food you are eating — but good luck telling this to a woman who insists on adding 1/2 a tea spoon of cayenne pepper or one teaspoon of salt just because the recipe told her. I am not sure that this is necessarily due to a lack of experience. The parallels to other parts of life are quite staggering, after all. Just think of how good girls are at basic mathematical operations, often surpassing boys up to grade six or seven — surely this is also partly due to women reaching puberty earlier — only to completely lose their foothold in Calculus. It is almost as if women are much better at following directions than understanding and applying basic concepts somewhat creatively.

One thought on “Following the Recipe

  1. >It is almost as if women are much better at following directions than understanding and applying basic concepts somewhat creatively.<

    That's pretty much what it means to master a skill. When you understand the fundamentals so deeply,you start being able to break rules to your advantage.

    As an example,in fighting sports,having your hands up so you can more easily protect your face/head is a fundamental taught to beginners,but we see all sorts of fighters in the ring who fight with their hands down and do so with success. People think its just sheer showboating and just a result of one fighter being so much more skilled than the other,but there's actually an advantage to doing this…Your hands (your primary weapons in this context) are a lot harder to keep track of,and much harder to defend against. Giving up a little defense for a more unpredictable offense so to speak.

    Probably an example that is more at home with you however…you've discussed before that you advice against making out with a girl (especially in public) if your actual goal is to lay her soon after meeting her,but I think this was your modus operandi in your Sleazy Stories. You just happened to be the exception to the rule,haha.

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