The profession of preparing food is extremely male dominant. Seriously, think of it – do a quick google search and type in: famous chefs, and you’ll see tons and tons of men. There’s always Julia Child in there, and of course Rachael Ray and that little Giada woman who cooks delicious looking things, but from the looks of her, she only tastes it and doesn’t eat a slovenly portion like the rest of us, but I digress.
Fact of the matter is, in so many homes (may I venture to say the VAST majority) the mom is the cook. And the mom is often frustrated by the fact that she not only does all the preparing, as in from store to table (because most of us don’t live on a farm, mmmmkay?) as well as menu planning and actually cooking and plating the meals. Then dad makes Walking Tacos ONCE and the children think he’s not only the best cook in the world but that he is also the most fun human being because eating tacos out of a Doritos bag is WAY more fun than a balanced dinner of healthy chicken, brussel sprouts, and salad.
These little humans who we are responsible for keeping alive have to eat every. damn. day. Multiple times a day and let’s be honest, that gets friggin exhausting! And while the chef profession is male-dominated and men of the industry are often praised above their female counterparts, lauded in fact, when we hear people reminisce or miss a certain food, it is almost always, “My mom’s chicken pot pie.” “My grandmother’s sweet potato pie.” We all love our mama’s cooking and remember the special recipes, so how come mamas don’t get more credit.
A girlfriend of mine was talking about pizza bagels – they are the one thing she can ever recall her dad “making” and she said to be honest it was just a bag of bagels and a jar of sauce put out on the counter- everyone got to make their own(!) – but she and her siblings thought it was magic! Mamas in their homes are trying to insure the kiddos get good nutrients, plenty of protein, calcium, iron, etc. etc. etc. While it seems their counterparts are concerned with convenience and (dare I say) delicousness? Because don’t get me wrong I’ll take a bag of Walking Tacos over grilled chicken breast and steamed spinach most any day, so why wouldn’t my offspring?
Now, now before the in-home cooking dads get your hair nets all in a twist, I acknowledge there are plenty of homes where partners split the responsibility, alternate nights, or plan together. (But I really don’t think that’s the majority – and no, David, I didn’t take a Doodle Poll, I’m assuming and it’s my blog so I get to – so there.)
Why then, when we’re making delicious Chicken Picatta with a fresh Heirloom Tomato salad for a special dinner night are we not celebrated the way Guy Fieri is over a damn hamburger? Why are all the most celebrated cooks special dudes at Le Cirque? Is it because the restaurant industry functions primarily on nights and weekends? The exact time our children are home and we crave that time with them? Possibly. Are women deciding cooking for their offspring is more important than for a food critic? Also possible and highly likely. And good for the mama kitchen warriors who are at it – chopping and sautéing and crock potting for your families – I salute you!
What the hell is my point? Celebrate the nourisher in your life – and if you are the nourisher demand celebration. Remind everyone that food doesn’t just fall out of the sky onto the table ready to be consumed. In the beloved Christmas movie A Christmas Story – the narrator says, “My mother had not had a hot meal for herself in 15 years.” Teach your kids now that food is not just about filling their bellies, but a time for family to actually be nourished and that includes the chef – tummy nourished as well as soul.
And, listen, if you’re the mama who can’t tell a stock pot from a skillet and Trader Joe’s frozen aisle is your best friend – just read the late Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential – and rest assured that even the chefs at Eleven Madison Park have their secrets too.