“Do you cook?” It’s an often asked question by the men I meet.
Why, yes, I do. Pan-seared salmon with fresh dill sauce, roasted asparagus, smoked Gouda mashed potatoes, lemon butter chicken, Tuscan white bean soup and all manner of Southern delectables sure to clog your arteries.
But, instead of waxing poetically about my culinary skills, I intentionally give them a hard time. Why?
Cooking is intimate. The first time someone eats your food can be terrifying. What if they don’t like it? Not to mention, cooking for someone is an act of affection…for me.
Which poses the questions, “Is food the way to a man’s heart or simply the way to all our hearts?” Is the sharing of a home-cooked meal within the confines of your living space an act of intimacy for most or just overthinking weirdos like me?Is the sharing a home-cooked meal within your living space an act of intimacy or just overthinking it? Click To Tweet
I think the question is best answered by examining one’s personal relationship with food.
As a child, foods were associated with holidays or special times. Growing up, certain meals were reserved for certain actors in the household. My father loved breakfast. As a result, he was the one who woke us up before school and on weekends to a crazy fattening meal that would horrify my mother. Though, she would not be joining us (Mom was not a morning person), this was our ritual.
Special occasions were where she shined. Elaborate cake recipes from magazines were the norm for holidays. I still remember her stressful, yet successful attempt at an Easter bunny cake that turned out crafty AND surprisingly delicious despite her dramatics during the process.
Fast forward to adulthood and I find myself becoming more in love with the process of creating random dishes than I ever imagined during those days of receiving phone instructions from my mother on how to cook a meatloaf. (I still loathe meatloaf to this day.)
So, why, the hard time to my suitors? I’m not going to meet you and cook for you. It doesn’t help that I don’t ascribe to the gender norm of women in the kitchen.I’m not going to meet you and cook for you. First of all, I don’t ascribe to the gender norm of women in the kitchen. Click To Tweet
My interest in cooking is not a consequence of my identifying as female but actually grew out of a need to relax during a particularly stressful time in my life. During this time, I became fascinated with obscenely complicated recipes. The thought of having ingredients that, by all stretch of the imagination, should result in a puzzle of disaster, turn into something amazingly delicious was especially soothing.
Therefore, yes, I cook and well. Just maybe not for you unless I decide I want to and not because you asked.
At the end of the day, I do not advise anyone to ask someone whether they can cook upon first meeting them. I also advise only broaching the subject if it is a natural part of the conversational flow. It should never be used as a “vetting” question or feel a part of an interview. Plus, guys just stop. Most of you don’t even care. So, leave this tired question with the rest of the washed societal norms. Let’s cook together. It’s hotter anyway.
I’m curious. Is “do you cook” a question or conversation my sisters in other regions of the country find themselves encountering? In other words, is this cooking thing just some Southern shit? Am I met with this question so much because of my G.R.I.T.S. (girl raised in the South) status ?
Fellas, here are some hints on how to properly approach the “do you cook” convo…if you must (sigh).
- Cook for her first. Chances are, you survived this long without someone else cooking for you and have at least a few staple meals you don’t mind sharing. If not, you should.
- Build rapport. It’s 2016. I know no one picks up the phone. But, make sure you’ve dialed her number a few times and gone on a few interesting dates before expecting her to invite you over for a meal.
- Don’t assume she cooks. All women do not cook. Lay off the tired gender norms. If she doesn’t, it’s not a character flaw. Just like you not washing your own car, changing your oil, or knowing how to build a house isn’t one.