Yesterday was a holiday, which means there is food, a whole lot of food. Which has to be cooked, obviously. And like every other holiday the issue of cooking and me hating it was being discussed at home. The family telling me to spend more time in the kitchen and me telling them I won’t. There, I said it, I don’t like to cook!!! Well before you give me those judgmental looks. Let me make things clear. I do know how to cook, yet it is to me a task that I do not enjoy doing. I cook, often. I don’t enjoy cooking. If given the choice of cooking or reading a book, the latter will win every time.
As a young girl, I was occasionally allowed to stir a pot or sprinkle a seasoning, I was way too happy to be in the kitchen- not really to learn the ways of cooking, but to dig into the yummy stuff mom used to make. I could never make sense of the numerous little containers that were stacked up there. But for the most part, I wasn’t required to take part in cooking until I reached puberty. Then the training began for what was apparently my predestined role in life. Mom tried to teach me to cook. She really did. But I had no interest. It didn’t help that her cooking was incredibly awesome, I just wanted to eat whatever she made. ‘’How would you be able to run a family later in life if you can’t cook?” This is what my mom would often say. Yet nothing could get me to like cooking. I decided as a teenager that I was not put on this earth to cook for anybody, period, thank you very much. When friends, would discuss all things related to baking and cooking, I would be lost in a world of my own. Cooking never interested me. Of course, in a few years, life threw some truth at me. Somebody’s got to make the food, or you don’t eat.
Yes, life sure has its own way of getting things straight for you. Over the years, as I matured from a little girl to a woman, and helping mom with the house chores was expected of me, the none- existent cook in me had metamorphosed into a woman who could cook up a meal in a jiffy. I still don’t enjoy it. In the end, if I have to cook, I would. It’s a wonderfully creative act, as creative as anything else. I love to write. Cooking is just as creative like that and should be looked at in that way. But I really don’t like to cook.
That’s a big theme for a lot of women in our generation who grew up with the belief that we would have it all and do it all. It’s interesting to hear women talk about their cooking because it becomes less about the cooking and more about gender roles and defining how they should be the right kind of woman and live the right kind of life.
Be prepared for criticism if you’re a woman who can’t cook. Older women will school the younger ones on the importance of knowing how to cook for a man.
“ዶሮ መስራት ካልቻልሽማ ምኑን ሴት ሆንሽው” “አሁን አንቺን ምን አይነት ባል ነው ሚያገባሽ” “ ቤትሽ ውስጥ ሁለት አባወራ ሊኖር ነው” These are just some of the things people say when they know that I really do not like to cook.
Knowing how to cook does not make me any more of a woman. If I want to learn how to do something, by all means, I will learn. But if I don’t, I will find somebody that is ok with me just the way I am. What a woman does or doesn’t cook for the holiday doesn’t define her. What’s in her head and in the heart is what does.
It makes no difference to me one way or the other what another woman does or doesn’t do in her kitchen. But I am curious as to if these gender roles will always be the norm. Will men always be expected to know how to fix broken furniture or change the lights? And will women always be expected to cook well- regularly, clean and do the majority of the child rearing?
I won’t go as far as suggesting a woman never learn how to cook. All humans, men, and women should know how to feed themselves without having to order takeout. But can we please stop telling women they have to learn to cook for a man? Not everything we do is should be men’s pleasure or benefit. Specifically asking women to learn to cook is just reiterating the socially constructed gender role that a woman’s place is in the kitchen.
Eating good food and learning to cook it for yourself or your whole family has nothing to do with gender. Every adult needs to eat good food, therefore every adult regardless of gender, needs to find a way to fulfill that need. It could be by learning to cook, earning enough to eat out or hire a cook. Whatever works for you. What is wrong is to impose an expectation on anyone simply based on biological sex.
Bottom line is, People are different. Women are different. Expecting all women to love cooking is so unfair. Judging women on their cooking ability or passion for cooking is ludicrous. Do you, and let others be themselves.