Join 3,374 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Stag Cookbook: For men by men
June 8, 2009 6:29 AM   Subscribe

For Men by Men, the Stag Cookbook helped those who had previously tried their hand at cooking, but "weakened under a fire of feminine raillery & sarcasm." Contributors included: William Jennings Bryan, Warren G. Harding, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Jules Jusserand, Reed Smoot, Jerome Kern, and Houdini.
posted by OmieWise (106 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
An alternative viewer (Internet Archive's new book reader, same scan).
posted by stbalbach at 6:36 AM on June 8, 2009


(re: above, maximize the browser window and it will auto-enlarge/zoom - click on a page to flip it, or the spine to jump ahead pages).
posted by stbalbach at 6:38 AM on June 8, 2009


First recipe: a two inch thick steak fried in an inch of lard. Hurf durf!
posted by unSane at 6:40 AM on June 8, 2009


Third recipe: spaghetti boiled for AN HOUR with a sauce consisting of canned tomatoes, american cheese and HALF A POUND of butter. Hurf durf indeed!
posted by unSane at 6:42 AM on June 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


Any guy who likes to eat should learn some basic cooking skills. It's healthier, cheaper and fun.

And it gets the ladies hot.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:46 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


How come we need a special cookbook? Apart from the perennial MeFi favorite of mashed potatoes, I have yet to come across a recipe that calls for a specific cook gender.
posted by Dr Dracator at 6:47 AM on June 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


Screw that! The place for a women is barefoot, on the couch, while I cook for her!
posted by fatllama at 6:49 AM on June 8, 2009 [10 favorites]


From Dr. Frank Crane's recipe for round steak:

"If the result is not good, it is because you have not followed directions."

Love it.
posted by xingcat at 6:49 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nice use of the "smoothawley" tag.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:52 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


If Harding had cooked all his own meals, he might have lived to see the end of his term.
posted by gimonca at 6:52 AM on June 8, 2009


It's the cookbook for insecure men.
posted by kldickson at 6:53 AM on June 8, 2009


Keywords: paprika, tablespoonful, Worcestershire sauce, onions, Welsh Rabbit, baking powder, parsley, teaspoonful, round steak, tomatoes, Mazola oil, double boiler, demi-glace, flour, deep dish, American cheese, cayenne pepper, skillet, burgoo, cloves

1. Demi-glace seems to be the odd man out (hurf durf) on this list.

2. What the hey is burgoo?
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 6:55 AM on June 8, 2009


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Fearnley-Whittingstall

On television, Fearnley-Whittingstall's reputation is that of an eccentric chef. Initial exposure came in Cook on the Wild Side, an exploration of earthy cuisine. His habit of "picking up roadkill and eating the hedgerows [...] earned him his nickname of Hugh Fearlessly-Eatsitall". He followed this with the series TV Dinners, during an episode of which he notoriously flambéed and puréed a human placenta which was served as a pâté and "much enjoyed by the baby's family and friends".
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:55 AM on June 8, 2009


I have never seen even a hint of feminine derision or mockery towards a man trying to learn how to cook. He's learning a new skill, possibly one that might get him to pull his load of the weight in the household and get him to eat healthier. I guess real men were more insecure back then.

Having skimmed the first few pages, I must congratulate the author for being offensive to women, men who care about entertaining, and black people in just the first few pages alone. Many old books save that kind of stuff for the middle.

Then again, his name may be Carroll, so he could be overcompensating (if that isn't a joke added by the previous owner. Still in print, in paperback, complete with old-timey product description. Since the date of publishing that version is 2001, I wonder if maybe the publisher thought it was as ironically funny as we see it.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:58 AM on June 8, 2009


2. What the hey is burgoo?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burgoo

"Burgoo is a term used for many types of stew or porridge made from a mixture of ingredients." Dan Beard tells you in detail what goes into one on p. 58 of the linked Google Book.

(Also: poor wittle mens suffering for so long under the kitchen tyranny of those mean ol' ladies, crying themselves to sleep for being so underappreciated. {roll eyes})
posted by aught at 7:01 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


If Harding had cooked all his own meals, he might have lived to see the end of his term.

If Taft had cooked all his own meals, he might have lived to see the end of his willy.
posted by pracowity at 7:03 AM on June 8, 2009 [7 favorites]


Favorite quote from p53 in the recipe for James Montgomery Suds: "It sounds rather punk and ladieshomejournalish but it is a perfectly good dessert."
posted by slogger at 7:04 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have never seen even a hint of feminine derision or mockery towards a man trying to learn how to cook.

I have an old Robert Benchley essay about women laughing at how men hold babies. Oh and one about women mocking men forced to wash dishes at church potlucks. ("You'll make someone a fine wife!" and so forth.) Of course, this same set of essays includes a masculine denunciation of wristwatches. The past is a different country.
posted by DU at 7:06 AM on June 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


I said: Dan Beard tells you in detail what goes into one on p. 58 of the linked Google Book.

I suppose it's worth mentioning that his recipe consists pretty much of "put whatever meat and other random crap you have at hand in your campsite into a pot, overcook it horribly, strain it into tin cups, add an olive and lemon if you have it (!?!), and eat like a king." Which really just goes to prove the old adage that anything tastes good when you've been hiking all day with a heavy pack.
posted by aught at 7:07 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


If Taft had cooked all his own meals, he might have lived to see the end of his willy.

Or the beginning of his howie.
posted by DU at 7:07 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have never seen even a hint of feminine derision or mockery towards a man trying to learn how to cook.

This book was written in 1922, you'd hope that we've progressed a little since then.
posted by octothorpe at 7:07 AM on June 8, 2009


Whoa. After a long day of dealing with Teapot Dome shit, Warren G regulates by making himself a heap of waffles smothered in creamed chipped beef.
posted by ignignokt at 7:12 AM on June 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


I learned to cook because my mom thought, goshdarnit, eating is a thing I need to do *every day*.

"Man"hood notwithstanding.
posted by grubi at 7:13 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oooh, Gelett Burgess!

(umm...that's something that probably hasn't been said out loud in 50 years).

Anyone else have a copy of the Goops book?

When you are playing with the girls,
you must not pull their pretty curls;
if you are gentle when you play,
you will be glad of it some day!


Unless, you know, she likes that kind of thing.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:15 AM on June 8, 2009


ignignokt: "Whoa. After a long day of dealing with Teapot Dome shit, Warren G regulates by making himself a heap of waffles smothered in creamed chipped beef."

That sounds really good. I love chicken and waffles, beef and waffles sounds even better.
posted by octothorpe at 7:17 AM on June 8, 2009


When I was "caught" cooking for myself as a teenager, my father had a stern sit down with my mother and I, and made it clear that if this happened again there would be serious consequences.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:18 AM on June 8, 2009


I've been looking for Goops, but my library system doesn't have it. :(

No wait, they do have it!....but it says ILL requests aren't allowed?! :(((
posted by DU at 7:18 AM on June 8, 2009


I wish there was a cookbook specifically aimed at women who don't know how to cook. My weak physique can't master skills like butterflying a chicken and opening a jar of preserves; my right-brained, creative mind can't handle technical subjects like mastering a food processor; and my sensitive nerves are startled almost beyond recovery every time the oven timer goes off...
posted by muddgirl at 7:22 AM on June 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


this actually looks like an entertaining book. I was gonna squawk about how goofy the "men can't cook" stereotype has become, but if this was printed in 1922, I'm prepared to give them a pass.
posted by EatTheWeak at 7:23 AM on June 8, 2009


Apart from the perennial MeFi favorite of mashed potatoes, I have yet to come across a recipe that calls for a specific cook gender.

Grilled cheese? (Though, I suppose that depends on the person being served the sandwich.)
posted by inigo2 at 7:23 AM on June 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


Hmm, the burgoo recipe calls for turtle, rabbit, deer, elk, moose, and/or lamb meat, emphasizing to include a turtle. Turtles have to be the most beautiful reptile; I'd have trouble killing one.

Was anything not boiled until you could gum it back then? Is searing a steak for 10 minutes, resting it for five, and then serving it a recent invention?

Page 46 showed some real bravery. Being asked to provide a manly recipe, William Allen White offers a vegetable salad with homemade French dressing. He doesn't cop out and make it a taco salad, either.

Here's a morbid thought experiment: Let's plot the grams of fat per serving by lifespan of the recipe's author for everyone in this book, and see if there's a correlation. I may have to sit down with the table of contents, Excel, and Wikipedia later today to do that.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:32 AM on June 8, 2009


Once, while camping, I cooked the spaghetti for an hour (by accident; other, more urgent things came up). It was not so much pasta as flour porridge. Maybe they used to make spaghetti out of concrete.
posted by palliser at 7:32 AM on June 8, 2009


I've seen several "macho" cookbooks aimed at men published within the last few years and I've never really seen the point.

Cooking a really good meal is a great way to impress a pretty girl. Obviously, you can only sensibly do this in your home... you know, that private space where your comfy sofa and bed are. By any sensible definition, anything designed to bring "girl you like", "impressed" and "home, where my comfy sofa and bed are" into conjunction is tremendously manly.

Plus cooking involves both fire and sharp knives, and modern plastic plumbing means that making the occasional creme brulee is the only justification I have for owning a blowtorch.
posted by metaBugs at 7:34 AM on June 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Was anything not boiled until you could gum it back then? Is searing a steak for 10 minutes, resting it for five, and then serving it a recent invention?

Sometimes I think we've gone too far in the other direction, though. Try braising green beans in olive oil, garlic, and canned tomatoes for 45 minutes. You'll thank me.
posted by palliser at 7:37 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Indents on the first paragraph? Extra spaces after full points? Widows & orphans all over the shop?

Huh. Real men can set type.
posted by i_cola at 7:39 AM on June 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


If Taft had cooked all his own meals, he might have lived to see the end of his willy.

But it would've been a lot harder for Rutherford B. Hayes to live in Taft's underwear for a full year, that's for sure.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:41 AM on June 8, 2009


No wait, they do have it!....but it says ILL requests aren't allowed?! :(((

You don't have a license to ILL.
Inter-library loan.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:42 AM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


When I was "caught" cooking for myself as a teenager, my father had a stern sit down with my mother and I, and made it clear that if this happened again there would be serious consequences.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:18 AM on June 8 [+] [!]


You were trying to make a grilled cheese weren't you? Well maybe you shouldn't have spilled all over the floor!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:43 AM on June 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


I have a recipe whose instructions are sung and felt, rather than read or understood:

If you have tacos, but want eggs,
Guess you could make some Taco Eggs.
First you take taco meat, then add eggs
Now you have made your Taco Eggs.

posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:43 AM on June 8, 2009 [9 favorites]


This is as good as any place to share:

Knitting with Balls

posted by Burhanistan at 7:53 AM on June 8, 2009


Before you let these guys steer you wrong on the fried fish, Take this recommendation: Let your fresh fillets marinate in spicy brown mustard before you dredge them in Zatarains Seasoned Fish Fry. NO EGG WASH!

The best ever.

BTW...I fish alot.
posted by winks007 at 7:55 AM on June 8, 2009


Although I profoundly disagree with the sentiment, "Rice pudding without raisins is like Hamlet without eggs." made me laugh harder than it probably should have.
posted by Muttoneer at 7:56 AM on June 8, 2009


> No wait, they do have it!....but it says ILL requests aren't allowed?! :(((

"ILL requests" are generally used for requests between separate library systems. If you're within the same system (say, NYPL), but close to a branch other than the location the book is in, you'd normally be able to get it sent to you. (At least, that's how it works around here).

Of course, if the Goops book is in some kind of a special collection (complete set donated with conditions, say), all bets are off. Your best bet is to phone you library and ask: "Yo, 'berrian! WTF?"

- decimask, 'berrian in trainin' (yo.)

WARNING: Language and phrasing suggested in the post may get your ass hung up on, which is library phonese for SHUSH!
posted by Decimask at 8:00 AM on June 8, 2009


my father had a stern sit down with my mother and I, and made it clear that if this happened again there would be serious consequences.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:18 AM on June 8 [+] [!]

You were trying to make a grilled cheese weren't you?


Close. I liked to chop hot dogs and baloney, and fry them until they were blackened, put that in a carefully grilled cheese sandwich, add shredded lettuce with Caesar salad dressing, and garnish with with sliced dill pickles.

The problem was not that I made a mess. It was due to lingering concerns from that time at age 12 when I had experimented with wearing my mother's mascara. I thought the girls might think I looked cool, but my father had other worries.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:04 AM on June 8, 2009


I love this entry:

FROZEN CHIMICHANGA:

Frozen chimichanga is one of the finest delicacies to be found in the super-market. It is often overlooked while shopping for groceries, due to its percieved "trailer-trashiness". However, a correctly-microwaved Frozen Chimichanga will always give you the most "bang for your buck!"

The key is to always remember to pause the microwave in the middle of heating your feast to rotate and flip the chimichanga 90 degrees. This is the best way to ensure an evenly-heated chimichanga; otherwize the cheese in the center may still be frozen, while the edges are scalding hot.

Serve with a chilled Star Select Cola. Serves one.

posted by not_on_display at 8:07 AM on June 8, 2009


What the hell is up with the pasta recipe on 34. Boil noodles for an hour????
posted by Mastercheddaar at 8:13 AM on June 8, 2009


And it gets the ladies hot.

That's part of the reason Pubescent Me learned to cook -- my father assured me way back when that touches like that are what make you stand apart, if you're looking to impress a girl (but then this was before the era of the celebrity chef and the trendification of being a "foodie," a word I would like to give herpes and set on fire). I had friends make the usual "you'll make a good wife" jokes until I pointed out that homemade pasta primavera and a good bottle of wine in a clean apartment was the shortest road to happy delicious naked time in a relationship, much shorter than the ones they were traveling, and much classier and more memorable than just getting her liquored up in a bar.

Of course, this same set of essays includes a masculine denunciation of wristwatches.

Yep, they used to be exclusively women's fashion, deemed too small and dainty for men. That was until WWI, when necessity led soldiers to use them, and once the military's doing it, it's kind of hard to pull the "that's girly" card.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:17 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


How come we need a special cookbook?

You don't. The publisher of this book thought he could make some money by producing a product geared for and marketed to men.

It's not at all a bad idea, either. I'd have greenlighted this project too. Especially when cookbooks back then may well have been tailored for women. I have a 1958 cookbook, and it's astoundingly sexist. There's a chapter called "When He Carves" and another on weight management, with headings like "Your Weight", "Your Husband's Weight", Your Children's Weight". The entire cookbook is written with the assumption that the cook is a married woman, and that she will be doing all the cooking and grocery shopping — and even that it's her responsibility to make sure everyone stays trim. There are also recipes for casseroles with potato chips crumbled on top, some truly revolting and unhealthy diet recipes, and very unappetizing photographs of food — oh, and good basic recipes and a truly kick ass baking section. When my mother gave it to me (it was one of two cookbooks she got as bridal shower presents in 1962 and she just used the other one) I paged through it, reading some things aloud with editorial comments, and laughing hysterically. My mother found it funny too, but said that back in 1962 she wouldn't have had a clue what I was laughing about.

And it gets the ladies hot

Totally. I've dated a number of guys who could cook better than I can (and I'm a reasonably good cook) and it was always a selling point. I'd brag about it to my friends.
posted by orange swan at 8:20 AM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I thought the girls might think I looked cool, but my father had other worries.

The 80s were a confusing time for dads.


I have never seen even a hint of feminine derision or mockery towards a man trying to learn how to cook. He's learning a new skill, possibly one that might get him to pull his load of the weight in the household and get him to eat healthier. I guess real men were more insecure back then.

I have a pretty good collection of vintage cookbooks and of those that mention anything about gender at all, most are of the "the lady will wish to serve her husband the largest chop" variety.

But there was a trend in the late 50s-early 60s toward "humorous" housekeeping books (cf. Peg Bracken's I Hate To Cook Book with its fabulous Hilary Knight illustrations). These funny/functional books often talked about the trials and tribulations of having a partner who was great in the garage but totally fucking useless in the kitchen, and sometimes would include whole sections of "man recipes" where all the poor idiot would have to do is open a can and dump it on toast, if he happened to be capable of making toast. These recipes were presented for the poor dear man whose wife was ill, or away from home, or who had temporarily left his non-cooking ass, and they are usually presented with a great deal of tongue-in-cheek sympathy for whatever tragic plight is forcing a man to cook. Given that these books are almost exclusively written by women, I would call that feminine derision.

I was born in 1974, and my dad had exactly as much cooking ability as was required to impress a girl into bed, from what I could deduct. He could grill a steak, bake a potato, warm up a can of peas and make a strawberry pie from scratch. Then he could make eggs the next morning, and that was it.

After my parents divorced, and before he remarried, our weekends with dad would include his entire oeuvre, twice. He saw no reason at all why he should expand his repertoire, and when we told him he was good at what he could already make and should expand to say, grilling chicken or making apple pie, he made it clear that this would be tantamount to becoming a homosexual.

He would have loved this book though.
posted by padraigin at 8:37 AM on June 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Somehow my parents never had anything against me cooking but it was always my sister who my mom would involve in cooking projects, even when she didn't want to. It kind of annoys me now.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:43 AM on June 8, 2009


I get all my recipes from Johnny Cash:

beans for breakfast once again...

Add extra hot sauce if you also want a burning ring of fire.
posted by orme at 8:51 AM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Little Johnny's preschool class went on a field trip to the fire station. The firefighter giving the presentation held up a smoke detector and asked the class, "Does anyone know what this is?"

Little Johnny's hand shot up and the firefighter called on him, "That's how Daddy knows supper is ready!"
posted by netbros at 8:52 AM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I knew a guy who used to like to bake bread and cakes. His father would tell him to go out and play football like his jock brothers or he'd turn sissy, but he preferred baking (and listening to Joni Mitchell and hanging out with girls who weren't actually his girlfriends). And it later turned out that he is gay, of course, though I'm not convinced his father was right about the cause and effect.
posted by pracowity at 9:06 AM on June 8, 2009


And once again, Google Books refuses to let people outside the United States see something that is long out of copyright and is also available at the Internet Archive (as was already pointed out above).
posted by djfiander at 9:10 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I liked to chop hot dogs and baloney, and fry them until they were blackened, put that in a carefully grilled cheese sandwich, add shredded lettuce with Caesar salad dressing, and garnish with with sliced dill pickles.

Ok, these metaphors are getting too damn complicated.
posted by InfidelZombie at 9:10 AM on June 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


To the authors, I say this as one of 8 total children (4 boys, 4 girls) who were all taught to cook from an early age: oh, please.
posted by crataegus at 9:14 AM on June 8, 2009


The publisher of this book thought he could make some money by producing a product geared for and marketed to men.

Hell, publishers still do this same kind of sex segregation.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:14 AM on June 8, 2009


I am amused by how non-sexist and enlightened this thread thinks it is, while also implying (or even outright saying) that women find men who do housework sexy. Do women also find men who fix cars sexy? Or play cards? Balance checkbooks?
posted by DU at 9:39 AM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm so glad I live in the future, if only so that the food I eat is not dredged in flour, deep fried in lard, and then boiled for two hours.
posted by dosterm at 9:50 AM on June 8, 2009


For balance, here's M.F.K. Fisher, in "B is for bachelors. . . "
"Their approach to gastronomy is basically sexual, since few of them under seventy-nine will bother to produce a good meal unless it is for a pretty woman. Few of them of any age at all will consciously ponder on the aphrodisiacal qualities of the dishes they serve forth, but subconsciously they use what tricks they have to make their little banquets, whether intimate or merely convivial, lead as subtly as possible to the hoped-for bedding-down. . . "
posted by goofyfoot at 9:52 AM on June 8, 2009


I don't know if I'm part of an unrepresentative sample but in my immediate social circle the guys can (mostly) cook and the gals (mostly) can't. (We're all 35-45). My guess is that it has something to do with the women rejecting their Moms' roles and the guys marrying relatively late, but anyway. I have two sons and I am teaching them to cook as we go along. I think they see it as quite a masculine activity now.

My father-in-law, on the other hand, has a sort of learned incompetence and claims to be unable to heat up a can of soup or make a sandwich. Fortunately (for him) my mother-in-law does it all for him. He was once, apparently, able to BBQ steaks but that ability seems to have fled, along with the ability to perform household repairs.
posted by unSane at 10:04 AM on June 8, 2009


I am amused by how non-sexist and enlightened this thread thinks it is, while also implying (or even outright saying) that women find men who do housework sexy.

What's sexist about implying that your partner will be more inclined to be in an entertaining mood when she comes home to discover you've cleaned the house or cooked dinner? I only had to be married about a year before I learned that, to my wife anyway, my doing the dishes is tantamount to foreplay.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:05 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


To balance EmpressCallipygos' link, evidence that publishers still believe men are helpless in the kitchen: "A Man, A Can, A Plan" series. The first book has a whole chapter on SpaghettiOs!
posted by sarahnade at 10:06 AM on June 8, 2009


Do women also find men who fix cars sexy? Or play cards? Balance checkbooks?

If they do any of those things really really well. Competence and skillfulness are sexy.
posted by frobozz at 10:10 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


My mom actually bought me "A man, A can, A plan." I found it utterly pointless; not that any of the recipes are complicated, but even any kitchen-incompetent guy would, I think, find instructions involving actual ingredients no more difficult, and more satisfying.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:20 AM on June 8, 2009


I'm gay, but cooking came to appeal to me late in life. If all the evidence anybody had to guess my sexual orientation in my 20s was whether I could cook or not, I would have seemed straighter than the entire defensive line of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
posted by blucevalo at 10:23 AM on June 8, 2009


I am amused by how non-sexist and enlightened this thread thinks it is, while also implying (or even outright saying) that women find men who do housework sexy. Do women also find men who fix cars sexy? Or play cards? Balance checkbooks?

Yep! We sure do!
posted by librarylis at 10:24 AM on June 8, 2009


(This is not to say that gay = good cook, straight=bad cook. This is merely playing around with dominant stereotypes.)
posted by blucevalo at 10:25 AM on June 8, 2009


Do women also find men who fix cars sexy? Or play cards? Balance checkbooks?

So do men.
posted by blucevalo at 10:25 AM on June 8, 2009


From Dr. Frank Crane's recipe for round steak:

"If the result is not good, it is because you have not followed directions."

Love it.


Also from the fabulous Mr. Crane:
"Have the butcher cut you a round steak - thin. A little thicker than a lead pencil. He will insist on cutting it thicker, saying it will be juicier and so on. Draw your revolver and compel him to obey you."
posted by specialagentwebb at 10:26 AM on June 8, 2009 [7 favorites]


Whoa, John Harvey Kellogg did a recipe for Mac and Cheese, but HS Cummings wrote his recipe for cornflakes?
posted by Comrade_robot at 10:31 AM on June 8, 2009


Competence and skillfulness are sexy.

QFT.

Also: caretaking is sexy, and it doesn't get much more fundamental than feeding someone. It's a cross-species sexy behaviour.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:34 AM on June 8, 2009


Competence and skillfulness are sexy.

Resourcefulness and empathy are sexy, to me.
posted by goofyfoot at 10:44 AM on June 8, 2009


My guess is that it has something to do with the women rejecting their Moms' roles

That would also be right around the time that a lot of women were thinking about making sure their daughters didn't get stuck in the kitchen, and/or were getting back into the workforce and therefore not around to give instructions. Most of the women I know who can't cook, it's not really by their own choice, it's due to a conscious or subconscious choice on the parts of their mothers.

On the other hand, I can cook mainly because it was either that or starve. My mom was going back to school during my formative years and someone had to put dinner on the table. We couldn't afford many packaged heat and serve meals or to get takeout. She taught me some basics, my sister and I taught ourselves the rest by reading cookbooks and watching PBS a lot. We liked the idea of cooking, our dad's family is French and the women are all stellar cooks, and we wanted to be like them in that respect.

Strangely, my husband's mother taught him to sew but not really to cook. When I met him, he had his own Viking Husqvarna sewing machine but ate takeout or jarred pasta sauce every night. I later divined that this was because my mother in law didn't really like cooking until she took it up later in life as a "pastime", but has always enjoyed sewing. She still can't cook anything basic that you'd want to eat, only fancy overly precious things torn from the pages of Bon Appetit.
posted by padraigin at 10:51 AM on June 8, 2009


This one is sublime in it's simplicity: Rube Goldberg's recipe for hash.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:58 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


You are all making me hungry.
posted by grubi at 11:03 AM on June 8, 2009


I can cook because my mother insisted that her son know how to, as she did not want me to be unable to cook like my dad (he has since learned to be a pretty good cook, but that was back in the '70s and '80s). She also taught me to sew, darn, do laundry, etc. etc. -- all the stereotypical "womans work" -- for the same reason.

My dad insisted that I learned to repair engines and restore cars, plumbing, electrical work, carpentry, all of the stereotypical "manly" things.

And as for my sisters, my mom assumed they would be interested in learning housework stuff and cooking on their own because they were girls (they didn't), my dad assumed they wouldn't be interested in any of the "manly" stuff, and so in the end they can't do any of it.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:12 AM on June 8, 2009


The spectrum of stereotypes regarding gender and cooking is a weird one. While it's significantly less pronounced in these days of the Food Network and the celebrity chef making cooking cool for both genders, I'd wager that when it comes to home meals, women are still the ones responsible for most of the cooking in your average hetero family household. The fact that we even have dumb shit like this and this and this just reinforces the silly idea that cooking must be made more "manly" somehow.

The irony of all this, of course, is that the vast majority of the high-end/haute cuisine chefs, both in the US and abroad, are men.
posted by shiu mai baby at 11:13 AM on June 8, 2009


Sauce Alexander (p, 67) is one way to overcome an oyster.
posted by goofyfoot at 11:18 AM on June 8, 2009


Overcooking a plate of beans
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 11:23 AM on June 8, 2009


I hear you, shui mai baby. When men cook, it's art, when women cook, it's dinner. Not always, but all too often.
posted by goofyfoot at 11:33 AM on June 8, 2009


The irony of all this, of course, is that the vast majority of the high-end/haute cuisine chefs, both in the US and abroad, are men.

Being a fancy-pants chef is largely about being a boss with an ego. It's not surprising that they're mostly men.
posted by pracowity at 11:37 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


it's not really by their own choice, it's due to a conscious or subconscious choice on the parts of their mothers.

In my case, it's because my mother couldn't cook. Actually, she was slightly better than my dad, and therefore responsible for the day-to-day cooking, but I think she was partly relieved when my father's illness forced her to go back to work when I was 10 years old, at which point the family subsisted on a diet of frozen dinners.

She loved being a housewife and SAHM, but she was a disinterested cook, just like her mom before her, and just as I am after her. I think it's more likely that as gender roles become less rigidly defined, those women who dislike to cook but were nevertheless expected to do so for their families will find themselves cooking less, and those men who were previously kept out of the kitchen will learn to cook from their mothers and fathers as my spouse did.
posted by muddgirl at 11:37 AM on June 8, 2009


Metafilter: weakened under a fire of feminine raillery and sarcasm.
posted by Rangeboy at 11:37 AM on June 8, 2009


I like how the only reason for men to do something is because they're in the sexual thrall of women (who obviously have no other power to influence anyone with). Give me a break.

So a bunch of people who're marginalized within a certain community (WASPy 1920s men cooking) want to establish that the behavioral traits of the community are okay to identify with, and that nobody should tell you that you can't behave like that just because of who you're supposed to be like—and meanwhile, that there are ways to participate that are more favourable to them. Women in finance, men in knitting, whatever. I guess that's a bad thing, somehow..

Even if that wasn't the case I don't see the problem with group affiliation as an approach to tone in something—it doesn't mean that only the targeted audience is allowed to read it. "Sightseeing in Europe for women who like hats." Are the hat-wearing women insecure? Who knows.

Mefi overdoes the whole cringeworthy superficial "I'm a precocious 12 year old and I've noticed that the expectations here are normative, not descriptive" angle sometimes. Don't make it so complicated. Breathe.
posted by Non Prosequitur at 11:40 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


*takes own advice*
posted by Non Prosequitur at 11:41 AM on June 8, 2009


I'd wager that when it comes to home meals, women are still the ones responsible for most of the cooking in your average hetero family household.

Not in my household - the kitchen is my domain! But yeah, true for almost every one of my non-single contemporaries (30-40 years old) that I can think of. And now that most of them have kids, the same goes with child-rearing roles, which rather surprised me.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:49 AM on June 8, 2009


Non Prosequitur Have you read any of the book? 'cause that is not what I'm getting from it. I don't get any of that "har har har, men can't cook, lets have recipes on how to open tins of beans, plus one good one to get laid" vibe from it. It starts right off with a little poem saying that men can be really good cooks, as good or better than a woman, and saying otherwise is a libel. It then proceeds to provide a pile of recipes that range from silly and simple to interesting and complicated. Seems to be more of a book of famous men and the recipes they like to cook than anything else.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:20 PM on June 8, 2009


Yeah I was writing in defense of the book! I was responding to the gist of some of the comments here.
posted by Non Prosequitur at 12:23 PM on June 8, 2009


Ah, my apologies, then.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:27 PM on June 8, 2009


Unfortunately, my status as a half-time worker/SAHM makes it so I'm the one who thinks about dinner and my man's lunches and such. Circumstances being what they are, I have more time to bake breakfast breads and cakes. Since I'm home, I also have a better idea of what is in the fridge and chest freezer.

But damn it all, I hate cooking. I cook because I want to eat now and then. Kitchens belong in restaurants or in other people's homes. I'm more than happy to hand off the cooking duties to a man, any man. But not if he's using this cookbook!
posted by Never teh Bride at 12:29 PM on June 8, 2009


Reading this thing is a blast. It's obviously a joke, and it's so arch and overwritten that all the participants were in on it (or their secretaries - I doubt that Charlie Chaplin, in 1922, or the mayor of Chicago, actually submitted anything at all). Booth Tarkington's recipe for corn flakes? John Philip Sousa's recipe for something called "pelotas al la portugeuse"? which I translate as "Portuguese balls."
posted by goofyfoot at 12:29 PM on June 8, 2009


That was until WWI, when necessity led soldiers to use them, and once the military's doing it, it's kind of hard to pull the "that's girly" card.

Berets are still pretty fey, though.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:40 PM on June 8, 2009


Fey? Never! Dashing!
posted by goofyfoot at 1:10 PM on June 8, 2009


There are also recipes for casseroles with potato chips crumbled on top

I learned how to cook using the Betty Crocker Boy's and Girl's Cookbook (vintage late 60s, points for being inclusive even back then; I still have my copy). My tour de force, besides the Mad Hatter Meatballs, was the tuna casserole, which was made with canned mushroom soup and frozen peas with delicious layer of potato chips on top. It was awesome.

Or rather it's the kind of thing that's awesome if you're ten years old. I'm not tempted to make it today to see if it's still as salty and gloopy (with bonus crunchiness!) as I remember.
posted by jokeefe at 1:29 PM on June 8, 2009


I have never seen even a hint of feminine derision or mockery towards a man trying to learn how to cook.

Heh. On arecent trip to visit my dad-in-laws wife recently decided he should learn how to cook, and bought him some kind of godawful cooking-for-simpletons book aimed at mentally impaired children. Which is just what you want when you're a retired nuclear engineer. I think our quick trip to the local bookshop when we heard about this yielded a Jamie Oliver book, which some might say is not that much better, but hey, he was a lot happier with it.
posted by Artw at 1:48 PM on June 8, 2009


Do women also find men who fix cars sexy? Or play cards? Balance checkbooks?

If they do any of those things really really well. Competence and skillfulness are sexy.


Oh, definitely. Even sexier, though, are men who appreciate my skills in auto repair, card playing, and especially balancing checkbooks.

I have this recurring dream in which I'm happily engrossed in analyzing financial ratios and geeking out over complicated tax research problems while an appreciative man cooks a delicious dinner for me.

Mmm. I like that dream.
posted by velvet winter at 2:19 PM on June 8, 2009


Fascinating to read how truly awful those recipes are, like cooking a steak or pasta for an hour. ugh. Also darkly interesting to understand how men's roles in America were scripted to be so limited half a century ago. They were encouraged, as starkly visible in the patronising writing in this book, to be thickly stupid, racist, bigoted, insensitive dolts, as if this were The Right Way To Be A Man. And this was the sort of writing style considered to be tongue in cheek, smug fun. eg

There are two sure ways of identifying a true southerner One of them is to play Dixie Unlike your northerner or counterfeit southerner who springs to his feet and looks exalted and proud when the band strikes up that swinging anthem your true or southern southerner rarely springs Generally he just sets and waggles one boot and looks happy or sentimental according to his nature That is one way of detecting your true southerner The second and surer way is to announce in a tremulous voice: "Gemmen dat potato pone am done set. "

But there are elements in the writing that are anthropologically amusing, in that delight of looking at vintage anything sort of way, like "Beat well with a silver fork". Why silver? Steel not good enough to whip the salad dressing? Or so as not to mistakenly use any of the copper, lead or brass forks one might have in the kitchen drawer? Or "Run around and find a real good Liederkranz cheese". huh. Had too look that up. It's an actual, extinct cheese.

A miracle my dad, who was a wonderful cook, survived the social propaganda about men's roles in America with as much gentleness, character and integrity as he had.

Thanks for the post, OmieWise, it was an interesting distraction.
posted by nickyskye at 3:14 PM on June 8, 2009


Ah yes, Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boys and Girls featuring the wonderfully naive Candle Salad: It's better than a real candle, because you can eat it.
posted by djfiander at 4:17 PM on June 8, 2009


Third recipe: spaghetti boiled for AN HOUR

like cooking a steak or pasta for an hour.


This was normal in the 1920s and 1930s. Spaghetti was still an exotic back then; most Americans were more familiar with macaroni. "Al dente" didn't enter the American vocabulary until the 1970s, when Italian cooking began to displace French cooking as the pre-eminent cuisine in the US.
posted by dw at 4:39 PM on June 8, 2009



I get all my recipes from Johnny Cash:

beans for breakfast once again...


I'm more of a Kris Kristofferson man myself.

The beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad, so I had one more for dessert.

posted by saul wright at 6:19 PM on June 8, 2009


Heh. So this conversation plus a dead day at the office inspired me to fuck off from work and get some much-needed cleaning done at the house. Did three rooms, including the kitchen. Cleaned, vacuumed, scrubbed the kitchen floor, even Scotchgarded the easy chair. Made the kid's lunch for tomorrow, put him to bed, then went to go gas up one of the cars for tomorrow. I figured my wife (who is pregnant) could use the break, plus it'd be a good experiment on the efficacy of housework-as-aphrodisiac.

When I got back from the gas station, my wife was knitting on the couch, making a blanket for our expected Christmas baby, listing noticeably to port. She gave me a weak smile. "I was totally going to fuck the hell out of you when you got back, after everything you did today, but I got round ligament pain and then farted a lot and then I hit the wall. Sorry."

I will still call this an unqualified victory, even though my blowjob reward remains entirely theoretical.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:44 PM on June 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


dw: This was normal in the 1920s and 1930s. Spaghetti was still an exotic back then; most Americans were more familiar with macaroni. "Al dente" didn't enter the American vocabulary until the 1970s, when Italian cooking began to displace French cooking as the pre-eminent cuisine in the US.

The Spaghetti Harvest of 1957

posted by not_on_display at 7:54 PM on June 8, 2009


An alternative viewer (Internet Archive's new book reader, same scan).

That's a great reader, much better than the Google one, in my opinion. Thanks.
posted by OmieWise at 4:39 AM on June 9, 2009


Also darkly interesting to understand how men's roles in America were scripted to be so limited half a century ago. They were encouraged, as starkly visible in the patronising writing in this book, to be thickly stupid, racist, bigoted, insensitive dolts, as if this were The Right Way To Be A Man. And this was the sort of writing style considered to be tongue in cheek, smug fun.

In a way, you might say we've had Men's Liberation since then. I mean, does anybody really want to be like the dad from Moral Orel? Thank the god I don't believe in for wider gender roles.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:05 AM on June 9, 2009


Cooking a really good meal is a great way to impress a pretty girl.

The one time I did this, she turned out be be, while undeniably pretty, also painfully thick, and I really would have been better off spending that time having a wank and a nap.

Seriously, I hate cooking - it's painfully boring, you can eat perfectly healthily without it and anyone that gets turned on by me cooking is a sadist and that's totally not my bag.

Of course, I don't expect anyone to cook FOR me either. In fact, a woman who can't cook is quite the turn on. Fight the oven! You have nothing to lose but your chains.
posted by Sparx at 7:36 AM on June 9, 2009


« Older Morisawa Fontpark...  |  What [Francis] Bacon produced ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments