Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Man Can and Should Cook, Here’s Why.

If your initial response to the title of this post is something akin to, “Pfft, cooking is for chicks and pussies.” you should leave. Seriously, go read something else.....and stop living in your mother’s basement.

That aside, here are a few of my thoughts on why it’s important for a man to not only know how to cook, but why he should endeavor to do it well.

1 – It’s a basic life skill. Are you going to tell me that you aren’t man enough to get the better of a 5lb dead chicken? You can handle a manual transmission, you can back up a trailer, you can change a flat tire, you can jump-start your car, you can drive a nail, you can fix a faucet….can’t you? Shouldn’t you be able to feed yourself, your spouse and your kids without resorting to fried cheese sticks at the local pub or the KFC drive-through?

Among my male friends that are accomplished cooks are Executives, Cops, Race Car Drivers, Airline Pilots, Construction Foremen, Oil Well Engineers and two professional Chefs. Cooking is in fact, quite a manly art. Get rid of the “woman’s work” meme, its bullshit. Look at Food Network, peruse the latest Michelin Star Ratings. Most of the world’s top chef’s are men.

There’s fire, there’s dangerous hot grease, there’s sharp knives, there’s power tools. C’mon, if that doesn’t get your inner caveman going what does?

2 – It’s not rocket science. Take a look at the cooking posts on this blog. With the exception of the piece on sous-vide darn near everything is cooked very simply, with a few basic processes that can be applied to hundreds of other recipes and a few simple, often inexpensive ingredients. You don’t have to practice molecular gastronomy to feed yourself and your family and there’s far more that you can do beyond tending the Webber Kettle without the need for years of training at culinary school. Sure there are some exotic techniques out there that take years of training to master, but the basics are easy. If you can read and follow the instructions to assemble your kids toys or install a piece of software you can figure out how to replicate a well written recipe.

3 – It’s better for you. Hey, I like a burrito the size of an infant from a gritty Taqureia as much as the next guy and few things are better than an In-N-Out “Double-Double Animal Style” but damn dude, you can’t eat like that all the time even if it’s only on the night’s your wife works late, goes out with her friends or is out of town on business. That stuff is fine once a month or so, but even at infrequent intervals the 2000 calorie meals add up. I’m packing more pounds than I should as I’m sure most of us are, but if we can avoid making the situation worse by cooking for ourselves we should. If you are a father, the responsibility meter goes up a few notches. Once in a while a treat is fine, but don’t instill the habit of eating processed garbage into your kids.

If you learn to make the same food, in reasonable portions with quality, organic, unprocessed ingredients you can offer yourself or the kids the same treat and you won’t have to buy yourself a longer belt.  

4 – It’s faster than eating out. Dig this; 10min in the car to get to Applebees (seriously, you’re going to Apple-freakin-bees?), wait 10-15min for a table, another 10min while “Hi, I’m Misty and I’ll be your server tonight!” get’s you your Super-Cadillac-Mojito-Rita ($14 and made with crap booze), then you get to order….you wait 20min for the garbage food to be brought to your table, 20min to choke the crap down, wait 10min for Misty to get her ass back from her break and to run your ticket, 5min to get the damn thing back to sign it and then another 10min to get home. You’ve killed at least 1 ½ hours, spent like $25-$30 a head and eaten nothing but crap. In ½ that time you could have stopped by the grocery store on your way home and whipped up half of the recipe’s available on Food Network’s website and been sitting down to eat a good meal for about $10 a head and you'll have awesome leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Besides that, you'll be in your own house, with a ballgame going and not had to worry if the table had gum on the bottom or some kid’s fetid drool on the top.

5 – Partnership. If you are married or are living with someone and you AREN’T sharing in the cooking you are blowing it. Running a house together is a team effort and if you are leaving certain roles just to your partner you are not really all-in on the concept of partnership. Even if your partner says “I like doing it” it’s still a good idea to treat them to a dinner they don’t have to cook (or clean up) at least once a week. Even better, get in there and cook with them. You spend enough time apart during the day. Why not take advantage of the chance to spend time with each other and bone up on your teamwork. Besides….once that chicken goes in the oven there’s an opportunity to go fool around in the other room while it cooks. An easier suggestion to make if you were helping as opposed to sitting on your can and watching Top Gear.

6 – Family History. We all have unique cultural histories and a big part of that is the food. Too often we save those “special family dishes” for holidays. Why? Cooking is rooted in our very DNA and many dishes, even highly elevated restaurant dishes, can be traced back to the dark ages or beyond. Buy a few cookbooks related to your heritage, find out where and why the dishes originated. It’ll give you greater insight into your family history and a greater appreciation for not only your heritage, but that of others. By example, Paella is a Spanish rice dish that originated near Valencia early in the 19th century. It was a dish prepared in the field by farmers, orchard men and shepherds made from that which was easy to carry, available and most of all, cheap.

Dishes such as that are a direct connection to our past and if there is a dish that Grandma used to make that you and your family love why wait until Christmas to have it? Make it on a Tuesday in September and take the opportunity to share with your family a little bit of history on where their family comes from.

7 – Chicks dig it. Don’t believe me? Ask one. I challenge you to find a woman that’ll tell you that they AREN’T interested in a man if he can cook. Some find it endearing, some find it downright sexy and I’ve never known a woman that didn’t relish the opportunity to brag about something great that their boyfriend or husband did for them. Women don’t want a man that they have to be a mother to, they want a man that can not only take care of himself, but take care of his family as well. What a better way to demonstrate that ability than to bring a meal from field to table even if only in a figurative sense.

8 – Choice. If you are driving the car, you get to pick the radio station right? Well….most of the time anyway, but if you are making dinner, either for yourself or others you own the menu. Make something YOU love to eat. If you love a big juicy Ribeye and your partner prefers Fillet Mignon, then buy one of each. The cooking process is the same and you both get to have what you prefer.

9 – Creativity. Many of our careers require rigid adherence to process. We follow that process to the letter. Cooking offers the opportunity to get creative, to tweak convention to put your own stamp on something traditional or to do something that perhaps has never been done. Have you ever been eating a meal and thought, “This would be 10x better with bacon!” Well, man up and make it yourself…with bacon. Cooking gives us a chance to express our personality and share it with others.

10- Its fun. The kitchen is the heart of every home. Think about the last 5 parties you were at. Where did people congregate? Unless it was a frat-party and there was a keg in the bathtub the answer is likely “The Kitchen”. The kitchen is where there are good things to eat, good things to drink, and where the fun and the love of providing a meal for others originates. 

Why wouldn’t you want to be in there?


  1. Another spot-on piece True. I'm a rank amateur in the kitchen myself, but when the missus mentions to other gals that I do most of the cooking, they all start asking if I have any brothers available....:-)

  2. I fully agree, men should cook just as much as women do, if not more. But the washing up of dishes and utensils afterwards - is definitely woman's work. ←