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Men, Women and Cooking Today


I hesitate to start such a wide-open topic--and one that people even might get "flamey" about--but curiosity to see what Hounds might say drives me on. All my adult life (I'm 47), I have had the impression that men in my age group more often "enjoy" cooking than do women. The odds seem 50/50 or better that when I meet a married couple my age (in my "circle"), the man will be the one who goes bigger into cooking.

But I've never examined this perception systematically. It could be just wrong. I attended a casual cooking class at an upscale supermarket some evenings ago, and it was definitely more women than men. So maybe I'm unwittingly sexist and take more notice when men are interested cooks. But even if I'm right, I don't know if this is true for other age groups, or maybe other demographic groups (I'm an academic and surrounded by more than the average of highly educated and often relatively "liberal" people).

What say members of this board?

  1. I'm 63 and see alot of women in my generation who don't like to cook. Not that their men necessarily do either. Some of what I intuit (is that really a verb?) is that having raised a family (that includes the husband) and having put meals on the table and lunches in lunch boxes, they're just burned out on the whole thing. I have (the most glorious) stepdaughters who are now in their 30s. Their mom raised them and we were every other weekenders so cooking was never a chore. Plus I was 40 and a strong feminist when I did marry so there were going to be no gender-stereotyping exercises in OUR family :) So that doesn't answers your question but it's something I've thought about before.

    We also have a 50ish man friend who has really gotten into cooking the last five years or so. His wife has gladly turned that over to him. Again their children are (barely) out of the nest and I think it was never anything that particularly sang to her.

    I don't think it's sexist at all BTW. You notice what is there IMO.

    5 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      Yes, intuit is a verb. Or at least it is nowadays.

      One of my grandmothers cooked because that's what women did. She was very good at it, but was forever a bitter martyr, if a relentlessly vain one. Her modus operandi at any feast she'd cooked was to complain about how the gravy was salty, the potatoes lumpy, the meat too chewy, and grudgingly accept our assurances that no, everything was really very good. One Thanksgiving my father said, "Okay, Mom, you're right. Everything's lousy," whereupon she flew into a towering rage and stomped off upstairs, slamming the bedroom door. But I think she did that because she'd learned that, too, is what women do. I'm so grateful we didn't have any more of those in the family, or at least not to that extent.

      Now, my wife grew up in a home where Dad did the cooking and Mom washed up. I grew up in a family whose best cook was my maternal grandfather, and I started cooking in earnest (that is, regular meals) in my early 30s. So when the current-and-final Mrs. O and I first got together, I'd cook when she was at my place and she'd cook at hers. Then when she was working on a freelance project in her bedroom/studio I'd shop and cook... and now I'm the cook. And have been for almost thirty years.

      What relevance has any of this? Well, I know how we got to where we are, but I don't think any sweeping observations can be extrapolated from any of it. I suspect that most men who enjoy cooking are like most men who enjoy most crafts: it's a hobby, not a vocation. Thing is, that was Mrs. O's attitude towards cooking, and one evening when I had the flu, she'd told me not to worry, she'd take care of dinner. After 8 o'clock had come and gone, I got up off the sofa and went in to ask how come she was on the drawing board instead of in the kitchen, and she said, "Because I'm not INTO IT!!" I wasn't either, but I realized that if I were to keep my attachment to regular meals I had to be The Cook. And so I am.

      1. re: Will Owen

        Great history. Your last one reminded me of neighbors we once had. He had worked for AP or UPI (can't remember) and she was a stockbroker and they were raising two children. She put in outrageous hours and he quickly figured out that if they weren't going to starve, he'd better learn to cook. Thirty years later he was still the cook and a damn fine one at that.
        PS: Dreamt of you and "your" pork shoulder roast last night. I think it's a sign I need to fix one soon,don't you?

        1. re: Will Owen

          >>"One of my grandmothers cooked because that's what women did."<<

          As a dedicated contrarian, I can appreciate that a person whose parents expect her to do the cooking when she grows up might rebel against that expectation. And if that person ends up in a family where she's compelled to be the cook, it's understandable that the process might be less exciting than it is for some of us, regardless of how good she is at cooking.

          I grew up in a family where both parents worked, but my mom was responsible for getting dinner on the table every night. Not for cooking dinner, just for making sure it happened. And since she worked and I was the oldest of three boys (my sister came along much later), that responsibility got delegated to me fairly often.

          This came in handy in college, when a home-cooked meal was something that my friends (and those who I wanted to become friendly with, if you know what I mean) didn't get to experience very often. My cooking skills were put to frequent use, and improved in the process.

          Eighteen years ago or so I made dinner for the woman who's now my wife. It was our third date, and I've taken care of the bulk of the cooking ever since. My middle brother, by contrast, married a woman who believes that cooking is a wifely burden and that men shouldn't be allowed in the kitchen. She cooks, but doesn't enjoy it, and they eat, but nobody's very excited about it.

          That's not to say that a woman can't have a blast in the kitchen. I know plenty who do. But if it's a job (like it is for my sister-in-law) rather than a hobby (like it is for me), there's bound to be a lot less enjoyment and innovation.

          1. re: alanbarnes

            My ability to cook gumbo and my introduction of chili cheese dawgs sealed the deal for myself and the Khantessa when we were in graduate school together. She had never eaten either, but wolfed down four chili cheese dawgs the first time she encountered them. Her initial reaction to the almighty chili cheese dawg is a bit of a recurring joke in our marriage.

        2. re: c oliver

          DH & I are both in our 50s and been married 30+ years. For the first 15 years or our marriage, he did virtually all the cooking, with the firm rule that whoever didn't cook did the clean up. Over the next years we sequed into a more 50-50 split of who cooks. In the past year or so, I've been doing most of it. Conclusion: Regardless of the sex of the partner who shouldered most of the cooking in the first years of the marriage, after 20 years or so it gets a little old, while the non-cooking partner finds a new outlet for creativity.

        3. I'm 42 and do probably 80% of the cooking. In my experience, this is an extremely rare thing. When I tell folks I do most of the cooking, they are almost invariably surprised. And I am a strong conservative so there shall no ideological so-called "stereotyping."

          3 Replies
          1. re: Perilagu Khan

            My late pa-in-law's politics were somewhere to the right of the Hohenzollerns', while I consider Barack Obama to be almost a Republican. Cooking is not a political statement of any kind, unless it involves serving a radical PETA person a dish of seared foie gras...!

            1. re: Will Owen

              I wonder how many non-Germans would understand the Hohenzollern reference without the help of a search engine. :-)

            2. re: Perilagu Khan

              58 here, and 95% - partly because I love it, partly because I work from a home office so it's easier for me, and partly because I'm VERY particular about food and my wife got tired of listening to my "suggestions" when she cooks. ;-)

              And I'm happy to say I've passed this on to the next generation - our son, now 23, has been the main cook wherever he's lived since he got his first apartment at 19.

            3. SO is a very good cook but he defers to me for a lot or recipes and meals. He actually brought over a cook book today written by a comedian friend of ours - There are indeed recipes that I will try - a cookbook written by a male comedian from a male's perspective. Just the reading is worth it.

              I don't think it's a perception nor a sexist idea. Cooking was 'women's' work for many years and if you do it for 50+ years three times a day you'll get burned out. Regardless of the cuisine.

              I enjoy cooking more when it's not a after work, tired, don't have a clue when somebody's going to get home and no idea what's in the pantry / frig.

              I have a good friend that works in the culinary field as a chef and when I meet up with him I'm picking his brain for 'What's for dinner and what's on sale that you're going to make and how are you going to make it?" Ha Ha! His wife actually makes their meals at home.

              The cooking classes that I've taken are almost always exclusively female.

              11 Replies
              1. re: JerryMe

                >>"The cooking classes that I've taken are almost always exclusively female."<<

                How much of that do you think might stem from the "real men don't ask for directions" school of thought?

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  O_M_G. You are the most brilliant man I've ever known! BTW, I bought Bob that t-shirt many years ago and it still gets plenty of comments when he wears it.

                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    That is so true. The majority of cookbooks opened, or recipes taped to cupboards, were done so by female hands, with brisk but careful consultation.

                    When I asked my father how he learned to cook eggs (he cooked a fantastic egg), he said, with a look that managed to perfectly balance patience and scorn, "The army."

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      Alan - I might agree w/ that statement however both SO and DS RARELY venture into the kitchen w/o asking for instructions and NEVER do they start a new recipe w/o consulting me first. So, I think men, in general, CAN ask but most do not.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        >>> How much of that do you think might stem from the "real men don't ask for directions" school of thought?

                        That should have the adjective "American"

                        Here in Guatemala, a land with few signs and the concept of a map is unclear, men do nothing BUT ask directions ... they don't cook ... they ask directions until it is annoying ... like the time my husband asked directions to a church that was around the corner. I could see the top ... the priest was in the middle of a procession to the church ... we had to ask for directions?

                        Anyway, from my experience a man doing the majority or many shared cooking duties remains a rarity even today. Then again, I'm the rarity of a woman who doesn't cook.

                        NO, guys ... that little summer excursion to bbq doesn't count, unless all your meals are bbq.

                        When I see the men sharing or doing all the cooking for the holidays ... then I'll consider true equality in the kitchen. I doubt I'll see that in my lifetime.

                        1. re: rworange

                          rworange! Hello! I am happy to see you here because my neighbor and I have been eating our way through your sardine list. So still slightly on topic of the man/woman thing--you are a woman and you compiled such an exhaustive list, thank you. So often sardines seem to be eaten by men. We are really appreciating your effort. Thank you again.

                          1. re: runwestierun

                            Hope you add some of your comments to one of the sardine posts.

                            I never considered that sardines were more of a guy thing, but I'd guess, yes. I really didn't like sardines all that much in the beginning. Don'r remember what made me start trying all those sardines.

                          2. re: rworange

                            >>"When I see the men sharing or doing all the cooking for the holidays ... then I'll consider true equality in the kitchen. I doubt I'll see that in my lifetime."<<

                            Probably not in every house - or even in half the houses - but at my house, that's exactly how it is. Otherwise, we'd be having canned beans and toast for Christmas dinner.

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              Here, too: I (male) do virtually all cooking, including holidays. Among my friends, at least two other couples operate similarly.

                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                In this house, holidays are the time of the year when my wife and I are most likely to share the cooking, if only because of the sheer quantity of dishes prepared (we entertain a lot). The rest of the year I do most of the cooking by myself.

                              2. re: rworange

                                I do most of the cooking in our house and it has not the slightest to do with equality or egalitariansm or any other such guff. It has everything to do with the fact that I love to cook and my wife willingly eats what I put on the table. In other words, these matters are not always battles between the sexes or tangential to exalted movements and ideological positions.

                          3. Interesting topic, Bada bing. It's something I've been thinking about lately.

                            I'm in my mid-thirties, raised in the midwest, and I see a far more even division among my peers. My friends, however, range in age from the mid-twenties into the fifties. I have to say that most of my friends who love to cook, regardless of gender, are in their thirties. I find that the ones that detest it are older, and usually female. I think C. Oliver made an excellent point about cooking being a duty for so many women. It isn't so for men in still yet many households, and maybe the men who cook stand out more for it (as you wondered). A passionate cook who is in the kitchen once or twice a week might snag the spotlight away from the one who is gladly away from it after years of service. A happy man whose graying hair catches the stovelight does tend to get more attention than his wife.

                            I think that the ripening food culture in the US has given encouragement to men who were, perhaps, raised to believe their place was bread-winning and barbeque, or nothing. Both of my parents worked full days. My father liked to cook, my mother (the second oldest of ten children, over-worked from toddlerhood) hated it. Guess who made lunches and dinners? They operated according to the model in which they were born, and they were miserable.

                            My boyfriend loves food. His world revolves around it. He never really cooks. I have to entice him into the kitchen, and let him boss me around (Where's the little pan? Where's the good spatula? Grate this cheese!) for him to be able to relax enough to enjoy it. I do keep pulling him in, because he is always happy after he's had some kitchen time. We have an even division of labor in this house that looks suspiciously like what was traditional, but is accorded to not only who has what resource for a given thing (whether it be the time, the energy, or the money), but who truly loves it. When his daughter comes to visit, though, he pulls her into the kitchen so that we can make meals together. I can't wait to see him when he's older, and I'm 'tired' with a drink in my hand as he makes dinner.

                            I think that many of us are still operating under traditional restraints and responsibilities, and maybe need a few more generations before we can rely upon casual observations to be able to discern real pleasure in the kitchen. My mother had just, this year, taken to calling me with recipes she thought I might like, and that she enjoyed making. It has made me think quite a bit of the pressures, the use of linited time and money, that she was always struggling under in the kitchen. In her retirement, it appears to be a whole new ballgame. My stepfather still doesn't cook a damned thing, unless it's on the grill.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: onceadaylily

                              Excellent post, lily.

                              Our 31 y.o. daughter works long hours in an office and her husband works mostly from home. He's always been very social and enjoyed entertaining so it's been pretty easy for him to move over into the weekday cook role. I KNOW you're right. As a couple more generations pass, it will continue to change.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                My boyfriend's daughter is seemingly begrudging of our kitchen time. Her mother cooks all of the time, but in a very 'convenient' way, having four children and a husband to please. But his daughter usually manages to enjoy our time cooking, once we stress that nothing is written in stone, and allow her some control and creativity.

                                My nephew, however, loves to do whatever he can in his kitchen, and begs to help. My brother does all of the cooking in the family, and I love what he's giving his child.

                                I am very curious about dinners hosted by these two some years down the road.

                            2. I prepared the lobsters this evening. Deb will make newberg (sp?) with the leftovers tomorrow.

                              1. I'm 24 and my husband is 25 and even among our friends, we already see typical gender roles being established. In couples who live together or are married, the woman cooks and the man grills. It bewilders me that even in my generation, people don't question the stereotypes.

                                It's also frustrating because as a woman who actually loves to cook, I'm concerned that those looking in from the outside might assume that I am the one preparing the food because of my gender rather than because it's a serious hobby. My husband loathes cooking (it stresses him out apparently), but handles clean up or picks up take out if I'm feeling lazy. I'm lucky that I married someone who takes the idea of an egalitarian relationship so seriously, but I have noticed I am in the minority, even among my highly educated, supposedly "feminist" friends. The women still feel obligated to make dinner, even when it's coming from the freezer 90% of the time. Why the men can't heat up the frozen lasagna, I don't understand.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: tazia

                                  It's not a matter of can't or even won't, IMO. It's that the other person frequently has never had a calm talk when they're alone to say "I want a partner in the kitchen. I don't want to do it all 100% of the time." If that's how she (or he) feels. Enabling that kind of behavior to me leaves one little room to complain. You asked for it, you got it.

                                  BTW, you and your husband sound like a cool couple with good values. Go forth and procreate - someday :)

                                  1. re: tazia

                                    As far as I'm concerned, grilling and barbecuing are cooking. If a man grills and cues, he cooks. And seeing as how these forms of cooking are becoming ever more hip, we are likely seeing more real men cook. I would also add that the chilihead phenomenon is probably drawing more men into cooking (in front of the stove as well as the grill), as have the Food Network and individuals such as Emeril, Flay and A. Brown. To the extent that men can prepare manly food they will do so. Just don't expect them to rush into the kitchen to whip up peekie toe crabs with organic passionfruit aioli and frisee of pea tendrils.

                                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                      "Just don't expect them to rush into the kitchen to whip up peekie toe crabs with organic passionfruit aioli and frisee of pea tendrils."

                                      Ah, no. It takes a real man, thinking alanbarnes or Veggo, to do THAT kinda cookin' :)

                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                        wait til jfood posts his new and improved recipe for heirloom tomato and goat cheese tart. It goes fantastic with grilled skirt steak and grilled corn.

                                        1. re: jfood

                                          I expect to see a picture of it and you in a salmon (or is that pink?) Ralph Lauren Polo shirt. Seriously, that sounds great.

                                    2. I've got another take on this. My parents were married for forty years when my mom passed away. Dad never lifted a spatula or wooden spoon during that time, although he's always been a gourmand and kept a garden. (Growing arugula in the early seventies? Yup.)

                                      After mom passed, dad SEAMLESSLY got right into it. He 86 now and cooks for his friends all the time; he has lunch and dinner parties weekly.

                                      1. This thread reminds me of a family story. My grandfather told my mom on her wedding day (1971), right before he walked her down the aisle to never let my dad see her light the BBQ grill. It was sound advice. My dad, who was an AF pilot was often gone and from the time my sister & I could walk, mom would "keep us busy" while she lit the grill and cooked filling the much needed void of BBQ "x". It wasn't until I was in college that my dad figured out that my mom knew how to grill...and I think that was because she didn't get the charcoal bag replaced in just the right spot with the right amount in it. It is still a running joke in our family...but my dad 'mans' the grill.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: vstock

                                          My mother smuggled in shopping bags, yours charcoal. Lucky vstock. Great story.

                                        2. Thoughtful post and responses.

                                          I'm 46, DH is 47, and we both have always enjoyed cooking (and food). Over the years, the division of labor has shaken out with him doing most of the dinner cooking, me doing most of the special-occasion cooking, most any baking, and any new or adventurous dishes or ideas. Everybody, including the kids, gets their own breakfast and lunch. But we both generally still enjoy cooking (though he's better at the day-to-day drudgery cooking). (BTW, of other household chores, some of it's a traditional division, and some of it's not - mostly depending on what we prefer to do.)

                                          I have been disappointed that I don't see as many men cooking for themselves or their families. Of the people we know (mostly in conservative professions), the women still do the majority of the cooking, and seem surprised that my DH knows a lot about cooking. This women-only cooking seems to be true whether the women are working or not.

                                          I definitely understand women who've been cooking for their families their whole lives, and are tired of it and don't want to cook any longer. My mom still does most of the cooking, but my dad is definitely more involved than when I was growing up, and more than just grilling. My brother (44yo) is a single parent, so he does all the cooking for their family, but I wouldn't be surprised, were he to remarry, that his wife would do all the cooking. So I guess that's a continuiation of the old standard.

                                          We have a 15yo son and 11yo daughter, and they both can cook a bit (they'd probably cook more if their father weren't so possessive of the kitchen!), and certainly more than most kids their age. I would like to think that when they're out on their own, they'll share the cooking with roommates or spouses in an equal way, based on who prefers to cook, and sharing all the other house duties.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Lexma90

                                            Excellent post, L. And hopefully the generations coming along won't fall into gender stereotyping of family functions but rather who enjoys it and is better able to do.

                                            1. re: Lexma90

                                              This is a really thoughtful post, and part of me feels your pain about not seeing more men cooking. On the other hand, sometimes things work out how they work out. I consider myself to be a feminist, but I do 99.9% of the cooking for my household, as well as the shopping and cleanup. I like cooking, and my husband has zero interest. He considers it a chore on a par with vacuuming and cleaning the shower. So I cook, and he vacuums and cleans the shower. I really would like to think at this point that families would figure out what works for them and just do that, but the truth is that we were both probably influenced at some point by gender norms, and are acting that out. On the other hand, we're pretty happy most of the time, so I'm not sure I would trade that for a more equitable cooking/feeding process.

                                              My parents got married in the late sixties, and were determined to share household duties. My dad never enjoyed cooking, so my mom cooks and he does the dishes. The reality of this situation is that they have argued 2-3 times a week for 40-odd years about the kitchen cleanup. I'm very much like my mom-I want my stuff cleaned and put away the way I want it. So it just works for us for me to basically be responsible for the kitchen. But I do honestly feel like I'm letting down the cause in some way.

                                              I liked the post above about cooking often being a hobby rather than job for many men. I don't want to make global generalizations based on my personal experience, but in a lot of couples/families I know where cooking is "shared," the man is cooking whatever he wants three times a week. Which is GREAT, honestly. But the woman is the one who is responsible for feeding the house on Tuesday night when everyone is coming home at different times and the budget is shot so we're working with what's in the pantry. The man is making the big production meal where it's something everyone will likely enjoy (grilling, spaghetti, etc.) I think there's a long way to go before we change that, although there are an increasing number of exceptions to the rule.

                                              1. re: ErnieD

                                                It doesn't sound like you are letting down 'the cause'. Ideally, we should all be able to focus on what we are passionate about, or content to do, in our homes, and the rest of the stuff should be divided according to resource (whether it be energy, time, or money). It sounds like your household is operating by way of a satisfying agreement of all under the roof.

                                                My boyfriend is, at this time, working many hours while I'm taking time off. The dinner question has gone from "What are we doing for dinner?" to "What's for dinner?". That was fair, I thought. For now, I do every bit of the cooking and cleaning, as I feel I should. Today, this is a fair and equitable arrangement. Next week, when I go back to work, we'll be . . . renegotiating a bit. The boy's going to start washing his own socks again.

                                            2. House rules: You cook, spouse cleans.
                                              No ifs or buts. No appealing to a higher court.
                                              That's always been the deal here.

                                              Edited to add: I'm on my second load of dishes this evening. It's Father's Day fer cryin' out loud. I suspect I'll be finished cleaning up shortly.

                                              Complaints? No. That's simply the price of poker.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: steve h.

                                                Your ETA made me laugh out loud. We're petsitting in Sonoma. I DID cook Bob's breakfast AND wished him happy day. Lunch was takeout Mexican to have with Coronas while watching the US Open. Dinner is going to be leftover Papa Murphys pizza. My excuse for THAT is that we're leaving for Tahoe in the morning and want to clean out the fridge.

                                                One of our house rules is dishes get done tomorrow. No appealing to a higher court either. Breakfast cooking is whoever is in the mood; same with cleaning the kitchen although I'm MUCH better and faster at it.

                                                1. re: steve h.

                                                  Late (and oft-cited) pa-in-law considered himself the chef and Maman (and what other women were around) as the kitchen help. I on the other hand am simply in charge of the kitchen, meaning that I do everything in there. Pops frequently chided me on that. Then he came to visit in Nashville and set out to cook an ajiaco (a straightforward but extremely complicated stew) for a dinner party. I asked if I could help, but he said No, I've got it, go away. After about an hour he was suddenly hollering for help; there were cookpots stacked in the sink nearly to the ceiling, and he couldn't find another clean one! The notion of washing pots as you go had never occurred to him...

                                                  In my house, steve, it's the price of not ever having to vacuum!

                                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                                    Bob sweeps, vacuums and cleans the cat box with great skill. I'll cook all day long at that price. (See? These are "jobs" that in the past were ALL "women's work"). Now we negotiate verbally or nonverbally.

                                                  2. re: steve h.

                                                    This is our house rule as well, though on special days, the lucky man/woman gets the day off completely.

                                                    Happy fathers' day!

                                                  3. I am a 31 year old female raised in the midwest by my paternal grandparents. My husband 41 years old raised in the hill country of Texas. I am a stay at home mom to 3 boys 6,4,and 20 months. My husband owns a software company and works from home. He does 97% of all our cooking. I am capable of cooking, but the kids keep me busy for the most part, lol.

                                                    1. Both my parents were good cooks. My mom was a stay at home parent, my dad had gourmet cooking as a hobby. He cooked on Saturdays, my mom the rest of the time.

                                                      The big difference was that Dad cooked once a week - usually something interesting and complicated that took a long time - and he had fun doing it. My mom cooked six nights a week, plus various lunches, and had to cook every night. She got the economical dishes, and using up what was in the garden, or on sale, or about to go bad in the fridge.

                                                      So my mom got really tired of doing the same thing over and over again and never getting a break. At once a week, it was much more like play for my Dad.

                                                      1. for whatever reason, i've usually been the better cook in my household, so i've always done the cooking.

                                                        1. I'm 43, my husband is 54. Our agreement twelve years ago when we were getting married was I cook, he cleans. He has zero interest in cooking--he can barely run the microwave. If I go away without him I have to make stuff he can nuke along with explicit instructions on how to do so (I usually make soup or a stew). My brother, sisters and I all cook, and recently my 23-year-old nephew has started expressing an interest in learning to cook. But we live in the age of convenience and that's what's eroding cooking.

                                                          1. In my real relationships and on CH, it seems that most of the time when the man is a true partner in or the major cook in the family, it's because he chooses to and/or enjoys it. Whereas when the woman is the only or main cook, it is frequently expected of her. I was 40 when I married and had very solid expectations of what was acceptable. The first time Bob left me in the (totally separate) kitchen while he entertained our guests was most assuredly the last time. That was more than 20 years ago and I still remember his saying, most sincerely, "I thought that's what you'd prefer."

                                                            I think the role of cook is changing because people like me (and many, many others both male and female) are raising our children to honestly examine it. It's fun and creative and loving to cook --- unlike lots of household chores that simply must be gotten through.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                              Good point - I do most of the cooking around here, but you're right, it's because I like it. It's a delight when men cook and women change tires, but it's enlightening (and frustrating) to realize that the opposite is still more of an expectation.

                                                            2. I'm 27, female, and single. Needless to say, I do all the cooking in my kitchen. I'm also a bit (well, a lot) type-A and don't know how well I'll handle it if I ever have to share the kitchen.

                                                              My father died when I was seven, but prior to falling ill, he did 75% of the cooking. My mother's work schedule was more conducive to cooking, but my father enjoyed cooking and was generally better at it. On the other hand, my mom mowed the 1.5 acre lawn every weekend in the spring and summer.

                                                              I took over a lot of the cooking responsibilities in the family some time around age 10. My mom was working full time and going to grad school. My older brother could cook, but wasn't interested, I was. It had little to do with gender, big-bro was happy to do other traditional "women's work" around the house and we both learned the basics of home maintenance and repair.

                                                              My mom eventually remarried. I continued as the primary cook for practical/schedule reasons, but my step-dad took over lunch packing and kitchen cleaning duties. Now that they are in their empty nest years, mom and step-dad share cooking duties equally.

                                                              1. I am in my upper 60's and I love to cook and I consider it my hobby which means I love to read cook books and try to improve on the recipes and make them mine. My wife is a good cook but not as inventive as I. When we have family get-togethers, I do most of the cooking but she does the dessert. She loves to bake pies and is great at them. The interesting thing is that my son and two sons-in-law, all three who are in their early forties, also love to cook and are good at it. My two daughters and daughter-in-law are also good cooks but more day-to-day type of cooks. We all like each other's cooking and it makes for a great get-together.

                                                                1. I haven't read all of the replies, so I may be repeating what others have said here. I wonder if men have a tendency to 'enjoy' cooking more than women as they do it for pleasure, rather than necessity. While gender roles in the home are more neutral in todays society, previous generations saw more women in domestic situations due to what societal roles demanded of them, rather than what they may have enjoyed. My mother loathes cooking and only did it out of the need to feed the family, rather than enjoyment (my dad firmly believes that it's a woman's role to cook). I would imagine that due to the liberalisation of traditional gender roles it is now far more acceptable for a man to get in the kitchen and enjoy cooking, as well as a woman to proclaim that she has no interest in cooking. In Australia I have certainly noticed the trend for men to step into the kitchen (not just up to the BBQ!) and get their hands dirty. I should think that enjoyment of cooking would be about 50/50 across the board - like most other activities.

                                                                  1. Mid 30s & mid 40s here, married for almost 10 years...

                                                                    I do about 95% of the cooking in the household, because I love it. I really do, and I'm much more obsessed with food in general. Frankly, my man would be fine eating hot dogs, burgers, and pizza most of the nights, but he appreciates the variety of dishes I prepare, and the fact that I feed him much healthier stuff than what he would prepare.

                                                                    That said - cliché or not: my man does 'man' the grill (as a German you never learn how to grill well haha), and he is responsible for roast beef, lamb shish kebab, and youvetsi. He is also the rice maker. Somehow along the way, I have never learned or bothered to learn how to make rice.

                                                                    When we were dating, the first dish he ever made for me was a delicious pasta with meat sauce, the second was marinated lamb chops... I was in love!

                                                                    I'm very much of a feminist & Liberal with a capital L, so I expect him to help out with household chores. While he does his share of "cleaning" (i.e. dishes, vacuuming, mopping), I have a sneaking suspicion that men are simply incapable of seeing dirt. Literally, incapable. I know he tries, I really, truly believe.... but he may as well just give up, since I generally have to do it over. Well, maybe not the dishes.

                                                                    1. Thought there was enough tie-ins to this article to find it worth posting.


                                                                      If the two parents pack the lunches equally, does the person who stocks refrigerator swing the balance?

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: thinks too much

                                                                        I think it's a very relevant article. Esp. that as recently as the 70s (for me that's recent) the majority of American families lived on one income and one spouse, usually the woman, stayed home. If you're at home, then it probably makes sense that the majority of the time you'll be planning, shopping for, prepping and probably cooking dinner if not all the meals. So those families were raising children in an environment where "that's what women do." Nowadays, a majority have two income families, whether from desire or necessity, so that's a stereotype that doesn't have a basis in reality anymore. But it may still take another generation or so for it to become widespread.

                                                                      2. We've had to remove a number of angry responses from this thread, and the discussion as a whole is increasingly unfriendly, as well as starting to go in circles. We're going to lock this topic now.