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May 1, 2009 09:07 AM

Does one's gender affect food preferences?

It seems to me that men and women like different types of food, even if you adjust for outside factors. Due to societal demands, women are more likely to be dieting than men and, therefore, they eat a lot more salads than men. This is not the sort of factor than I am interested in. Aside from outside factors, such as dieting or trying to look feminine or masculine or "cool" or cosmopolitan, are there food preferences that are inherent in one's gender?

I note that the women I know seem to prefer sweet drinks. Men will eschew these drinks for beer, a bitter drink. Women seem to like fish and chicken more than men do. (Yeah, you could argue that this is due to the dieting factor, but it does not explain the large number of women who order these dishes with cream sauces or cheese sauces.) It seems to me that women prefer milder flavors, as well. Most scotch drinkers I know are men, as are those who prefer heavily spiced or extremely hot (due to peppers) food.

Am I right (or just a male chauvinist pig)? Can you supply some examples of the difference in preferences of the two sexes?

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  1. I don't know. I'm a feminine southern lady and I hate sweet drinks, drink scotch and martinis, love spicy food; don't diet but exercise a lot. I don't know if it's a gender thing, but the men I know prefer hunks of meat (steak) more than the women I know do. I prefer a much smaller meat patty for a hamburger than my husband does, stuff like that.
    Interesting question.

    1. I think it'd be pretty hard to trace this stuff to biological rather than modern cultural (and specifically Western, at least using your examples) differences, but I could certainly be wrong. I'll be curious to see what others, esp. others with some training in anthropology/biology, have to say.

      Edit: In fact, I'd have to say I don't recognize your generalizations at all in my own experience, e.g., preferences for types of meat.

      1. This question amuses me, especially since servers often seem to think that what I ordered should really be for my husband and vice versa. Apparently I like "guy" food!

        2 Replies
        1. re: buttertart

          The same for when I go to bars with one of my closest male friends, who is far from girly. While I'll drink almost anything, I tend to steer away from drinks that are too sweet. Yet he likes all of his drinks blended and sweet, preferably served inside a hollowed-out pineapple with a paper umbrella. I've been to many a bar where my vodka-soda goes to him, while his pina colada goes to me.

          1. re: jacinthe

            With us it doesn't extend to drinks (he drinks Scotch, Irish, or Pernod, I drink the same with an occasional Martini or G&T thrown in), but the food preferences really throw servers off. I often order "dry" things like chops and steak, he prefers stew-y or soupy preparations. Maybe it's the old association between water and femaleness? Yin vs yang? (He also has a gift for ordering the one thing the place is out of, no matter whether it's the most ordinary item or the most exotic, but that's another topic altogether.)

        2. <just a male chauvinist pig>

          Yep . . .

          I prefer martini's and my scotch old, single, and neat (like my men). The more complex the spice the better for me (although a simple, fresh, but perfectly executed vegetable will equally please). I also travel the distance to scoville for heat.

          My male SO prefers chocolate, chicken, fish, sweet sodas, and the occational chunck of of raw beef.

          Variety is our spice!

          1. In my experience, there is a marked trend in most men to like heavier foods, especially involving meats in all their shapes and guises. It is true that there is cultural conditioning for women to eat lighter meals but at least in my case, I have always felt naturally inclined towards healthier stuff with the exception of my incurable sweet tooth which I try to keep under control. I remember my male friends in high school and how they would hit the all-you-can-eat parrillas (barbecue places in Argentina) and help themselves to endless piles of meat whilst my female friends and I would generally opt for a tapas-style place or Italian. Of course there are exceptions but I definetely believe that there is a strong biological component to each gender's food preferences. These two links talk about studies that have been carried out which seem to illustrate this fact: