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Cooking up a new way for men to compete

February 13, 2007|by TIM ROWLAND

Commentary

Men in the kitchen. It just sounds weird, doesn't it?

Yet according to a recent story in the Food section of The Herald-Mail, men in the kitchen is becoming trendy.

So much so, in fact, that businesses are starting to go hard after the male-cook demo.

The story says, "Young men are an attractive demographic, and the food world - from media to the makers of appliances big and small - has worked hard to make time in the kitchen appeal to them."

An appliance that will attract men to the kitchen? I thought they did that a long time ago; they called it the refrigerator.

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Time was, that was pretty much the only reason guys visited the kitchen. They might know where the sink was, but they needed directions to get to the stove.

Anyone trying to teach a man to cook would have to say: "Let's start with the basics. This is a pot."

When I was in college, 80 percent of male-inhabited apartments had the refrigerators in the living room. The contents included beer and mustard. And sometimes bait.

But leave it to today's upside-down world to arrive at the conclusion that men in the kitchen is chic.

See, this is why women are smarter than men. Women would never fall for something like this. That's why ad agencies don't even try to conjure up the image that it's somehow trendy and cool for women to be out in the garage sharpening the lawn mower blade.

But us stupid men, all they have to do is create the aura that a cooking man is a sexy man, dangle a few gadgets in front of our noses and we will willingly play the stooge.

I knew we were in trouble when I saw some chef-chick on a cooking show (I was just flipping past to get to ESPN News, I swear) using a blowtorch on a creme brulee.

Foul temptress. It's not fair, because men will do anything that allows them to use a blowtorch. Come on, Rachael Ray, never hear of a broiler? No, you have to go and use an implement that we men are powerless to resist. Next she'll be carving a pot roast with a chain saw. And before you know it, instead of a motorcycle, the guys on Orange County Chopper will be fabricating a flan.

And the story validates this theory: "Ad campaigns ... showcase pricey espresso machines, NASCAR-themed cookbooks and industrial-style kitchen goods."

What we need, a 16 hp blender.

Meanwhile, women have to be laughing all the way to the salon. "Hey boys, yoo-hoo, if you want us to be attracted to you, all you have to do is cook. Oh, the way you use that whisk makes you such a man."

Mark my words, guys, if we fall for this, next they will be telling us that scrubbing bathtub mold makes us look studly.

Hold the phone, did someone say NASCAR-themed cookbooks? What's that, 400 recipes for possum? Instead of kneading dough, you throw it up against the wall?

Figures that guys can't get involved, even in cooking, without some kind of competition angle. Indeed, a culinary professor is quoted in the paper as saying, "It used to be, 'I wanna show off my prowess in barbecuing.' But now, it's also 'I wanna to show the prowess of my sauces.'"

Look, there's not crying in baseball and there's no prowess in sauces. Prowess and sauces shouldn't even be used in the same sentence.

That's such a guy thing. "My sauce is barnaisier than your sauce." Cooking is like painting, it's not like car racing. You can't make a beurre blanc into a chili cook-off. It's just wrong.

Even women fall into this trap sometimes, which you know if you have ever heard your honey discuss stand-up mixers. "Well, she has a good enough mixer, I guess, but mine is an Artisan Series."

So if men get wrapped up in cooking, you just know there will be an exponential, expensive and totally unnecessary upgrade in kitchen hardware. Because, well, we're guys, and we will simply have to have a better paring knife than the guy next door.

And if NASCAR comes out with its own line of saut pans, I swear, I will never set foot in the kitchen again.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on www.antpod.com.

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