Friday, January 07, 2011

It's called women's work cause men aren't bright enough to do it

I think that I've mentioned before about the difference between how most men cook and how most women cook. It isn't that men literally can't cook. They can cook most things that do not require mixing ingredients, like, they can fry bacon and sausage, etc.... And they often can do some big production thing like barbecue. And maybe they can fix about three things if they had to cook dinner once in a while.

This is different from the day to day cooking that most women learn to do. Women figure that they'll have to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner, day in and day out, often for themselves and for their men and for their children (who complain about everything put in front of them). No big production stuff here. Just figure out how to get everyone fed in a reasonable about of time. Most women probably know how to cook lots of different things, depending on the occasion and how much money they have and how much time it takes to prepare, etc....

It seems like my dad knew how to cook about three things. I forget what one of them was. The thing that he cooked most often was pancakes. Mom usually didn't have to cook on Saturday mornings, cause dad made pancakes. If ever mom wasn't there or mom didn't feel well, dad could make a few other things. I don't remember this ever happening, but if mom had been sick for more than two days and unable to cook dinner, I'm pretty sure that on the third night we would have had pancakes, probably with a side of bacon or sausage.

So it isn't that men can't cook. We've seen plenty of men cook things that are perfectly edible. We've even seen them cook things that we look forward to eating. It's just that most of the time they aren't motivated to do much of it. My husband can cook. My husband can open a cookbook and follow a recipe and cook something nice. Recently, my husband made fudge and divinity. And not just desserts, he can cook regular food too. It's the mundane kitchen stuff that causes him to drag his feet, like making Hamburger Helper, or even opening a can of soup to put in a bowl and microwave.

And of course before one does any cooking, one has to go to the store and buy groceries. If this isn't their regular thing, men can be pretty clueless. They don't know where things are, they don't know how much things are supposed to cost, etc.... But the really baffling thing is that when they can't figure out when/if you've run out of something and to go buy more of it. I don't drink coffee, I don't make coffee, and I usually don't put limes on everything I drink except coffee and so forth. My husband likes coffee, and he really likes limes, while I rarely touch either of those things. So I would think that he would know when we've run out of those things rather than me. Also, he seems to be under the impression that I buy groceries so that I can hide them from him. I'm like "I bought this for you, and when you get hungry, eat it" and then I put it in the frig and it rots because he never eats it cause he never looked for it.

Sorry, the frig didn't come with neon signs. You have to look around for stuff.

Anyway, we've both decided that we need to go on diets, though we are not doing the same diet for the same reason. His has something to do with getting rid of wheat and dairy. Mine will be about trying to eat smaller portions and lowering fat and calories, etc.... To get started with this, I've cleaned out the frig and we've thrown away a lot of stuff, and I'm trying to even divide the frig so that stuff he mostly uses is on one side and my stuff is on the other side.

I haven't paid much attention to his diet, I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do about mine. I bought a diet cookbook. I didn't really need another cookbook, and I even didn't really need another diet cookbook. But, briefly, I had it in my head that I was going to follow the six-week plan in the front of the book. The plan has a daily calorie intake of between 1300 and 1400 calories, plus there are a lot of veggies and some fruits that you can have extra of and not count. I'm guessing that the six-week plan would take you through most or maybe all of the recipes in the book and that after that you would pick your favorites and keep eating those. Or, maybe, someone went through and decided that this six-week plan would have a near perfect mix of everything. But I'm not going to follow the plan, cause I found a couple of problems with it.

Well, the calories aren't the problem. I'm thinking if I could get down to 1200 that would be better, but this stuff is not that far off. If I'm going to go on a diet, I think that it needs three servings of dairy a day, and that at least one of those servings has to be yogurt. I see that the plan has one or two dairy a day, and maybe if I really looked and added everything up it would be three a day, but rarely is one of the three yogurt. So, I would either have to take out one of the dairy to replace it with yogurt or else I would have to add a yogurt which would add around a hundred calories a day.

The other problem is the shopping. I'll give you an easy example that is not in the book or in my planned diet or his. Let's say that on day one of the plan you are supposed to eat half a grapefruit and a piece of toast. Breakfast on day two is different, and day three is different again, etc.... By the time you're supposed to eat another half of a grapefruit, the one you had has gone bad and you've tossed it out. And what about that piece of toast? You have to buy a whole loaf of bread to make that one piece of toast, and even if you had a piece of toast everyday for breakfast that would only add up to seven pieces of bread by the end of the week, and then the rest of the loaf is moldy and you have to throw it out. And I have tried freezing bread, and it usually doesn't work very well. So, if I did this, for day one and meal one, I would have bought a grapefruit and a loaf of bread, at least half of which will be thrown away. And then most of the recipes in the book aren't for one serving, but usually more like four to six. So if I followed the plan I'd be throwing away several servings of food with most lunches and dinners, as well as a couple of servings for breakfast.

I feel bad enough about the food I already waste without intentionally buying tons of groceries that I know I won't eat. But I'm probably not the target audience for the book, and probably they weren't thinking of single people either. Probably most people who buy this book have a spouse that will eat the other half of the grapefruit and at least seven slices of bread per week, plus they have children or other family members who will eat the three or more servings of leftover pasta.

But I don't have that, and for the most part all the food cooked will be eaten by me and just me. So for lunch and dinner I'll be making maybe mac and cheese and some other pasta thing and maybe a soup and then maybe a sort of Chinese thing or maybe Mexican, and then I'll rotate leftovers until it's time to cook something else.

Okay, no six week plan for me.

I guess my husband didn't think all of this stuff out the way I did.

So, he has a book (which I didn't really look at after I found out it wasn't what I wanted), and the idea is to get rid of wheat and dairy and a few other things and see if you feel better because maybe you have an undiagnosed allergy. And then you are supposed to add healthy Omega 3s and stuff like that. It isn't much about calorie reduction and it isn't much about weight-loss, other than what would come about just because you've stopped going out for ice cream.

Anyway, in this book, there's another six week plan. And there's a shopping list for the first two weeks. So my husband prints out the shopping list, and we head for several stores and spend lots of money, mostly at Central Market, cause we went there to get a few things that I'm not sure are easily found at the places we would normally shop at. Some of what we purchased were whole grains and other dry goods, and that's fine, but we also bought fruits and vegetables and fresh herbs, etc....

We're not Martha Stewart. We don't usually buy fresh herbs, except for a lot of cilantro, which is cheap at Mexican markets, and the rare bunch of parsley, which tends to cost about twice as much as the cilantro. That day we bought cilantro and two kinds of parsley and basil and bay leaves and watercress and a couple of other things and fennel.

I have never before bought fennel. Fennel seeds, yes, but not fresh fennel. I have no idea what one does with fennel.

After having bought fresh herbs and vegetables and fruits and dry goods and fancy cooking oil and tofu and a number of other things and filled the frig so that I cannot tell that I just cleaned it out, we were about to go shopping again for meat and fish, and it seemed to me that we really had a lot of stuff already, and that it seemed like he was planning to buy a lot of meat and fish for just a week or two.

And it was then that I saw the recipes that he was going to make, which were mostly recipes for four servings, and that we did not need anywhere near that much food.

Lets do the math again.

If you are one person, and you need breakfast and lunch and dinner, that's three meals a day, which would be twenty-one meals per week, or forty-two meals for two weeks. If you make recipes that are four servings, and you make a different one each meal, that's twelve servings a day, and if you make different things everyday, that's eighty-four servings per week.

So he was buying everything on the two week list, which would have made about one hundred and sixty-eight servings.

And he wasn't even going to be home for the second week, so I don't know why he was buying that food at all.

And in addition to the extra servings there's that whole thing about the wasted half grapefruit and most of the loaf of bread. Not that he bought either of those things, but he did buy that fennel, which cost four dollars, and you only use a fifth of it in one recipe.

At least I caught on in time to not have a frig full of rotting meat. But we do have watercress going limp, and pears going mushy, and then he bought sprouts and other things to take with him, which he forgot and left in the frig.

It was a big hassle getting him off to work for the week. It is always a bit of a hassle, but we've gotten used to it. And if you forget anything you can always buy something while you're away. Except, if you're on a diet, you aren't supposed to eat out and on this diet he isn't supposed to eat wheat or dairy, so no stopping at fast food places, not even Subway, and he can't even buy a loaf of bread. So I'm trying to get him to think about what he needs to take with him, to cook things ahead of time and such, and he just drags his feet. This isn't the fun cooking that he likes to do, and he waits til the last minute to do it.

I'm still finding food in the house that I think I should get rid of, but I don't want to until I know if he's only going to do this for six weeks or if this is going to be a long-term thing. I hate to throw out food that we could eat after the six weeks are up, cause we'll just have to go out and buy more stuff anyway. If I stick to my little project, I think it would be a minimum of five months, but probably longer. We'll just have to wait and see if I can handle that.


Absurdist said...

Sweetie, I think that you may even be giving some of us women more credit than is due.

Had I a two week shopping list, I think I probably would have forgotten to parse it out into servings, and realized certain things.

Course, I was raised by heathen men who couldn't cook.

The microwave is too much for me. It better come ready to go out of the package.

Cheese is my best friend.


dmarks said...

We are popping those Omega pills just about every day.

Yeah, it's a stereotype about men and cooking. But it's rather true in my experience too, unfortunately. Especially the barbecue, and bacon, and all that.

That is, when we don't have to brush two feet of snow off of the BBQ when we want to

Ananda girl said...

I think in general that is true that most men do not learn to cook more than a few things or are regulated to the grilling. My dad was certainly like that until my mom died and then he discovered he enjoyed cooking new recipes.

My X couldn't cook much either, but Randy is really a great cook. But then, his mom worked nights as a kid and so his dad cooked. I guess it depends on what your family did.