At some point in the past few decades, ‘kitchen’ became a dirty word for women. In a perfectly reasonable response to centuries of being forced into the kitchen, modern women took pride in not being able to cook and began abandoning the stove in droves. Meals cooked from scratch or well-kept homes were the purview of housewives, while ready meals were the choice of the working woman. Women were domestic goddesses or liberated ladies, but they could not be both.
But why must that be true? Why is it that women (whether housewives or working) are looked down upon both when they do or don’t spend time in the kitchen?
It’s a problem from restaurant kitchens to apartment kitchens
The saying that ‘women are cooks and men and chefs’ may seem like an old-fashioned sexist joke, when in reality restaurants all over the world are taking it to be true. Men out-number women working in American restaurants by a factor of ten to one, with many women who qualify as chefs never even getting into a restaurant kitchen. While women seem to thrive as bakers, when it comes to ‘real food’ they just aren’t trusted.
Even after years of ‘women in the kitchen’ jokes, it seems even when they are in the kitchen they are told they aren’t doing it well enough. The only way to reverse this attitude is to let talented women shine though. So many women like Julia Child and Delia Smith have rose to the top of their profession because they were the best at what they did: the same should be true even at the restaurant level.
If you love baking and cooking, do it! If you hate it, then don’t!
The new view of cooking as ‘frivolous’ is something that should be viciously fought against. There is nothing wrong with wanting to create a healthy, home-cooked meal and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying it. Conversely, if you truly don’t like cooking then don’t force yourself to do it.
It’s never too late to learn
Many women are afraid of the kitchen simple because they’ve never learned how to cook. Buying a few cookbooks, following recipes and getting into the cooking groove may sound easy but it often terrifies women who’ve never done it before. Experiment, try new things and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. With a good cookbook you can go far, so if you’d like to learn then never think it’s too late to try.
Stop listening to society and make your own choices about cooking
If you listen to the chorus of society, you are always going to lose. If you spend hours slaving over a stove and polishing silver, you’re not serious. If you work like a cart horse at the expense of your home, then you’re being unfair to your partner or children. The remedy to all of this is to stop listening. If you want to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, do it. If you genuinely like winding down after a working week by baking on a Sunday, don’t listen to those who call you frivolous. Do what you love, and if that’s cooking then enjoy!
This is a guest post by Victoria Abrams. Vic is writing for Nigella Lawson, an English food writer, journalist and broadcaster. Nigella is the author of 9 bestselling cookbooks and featured in several TV shows around the globe.