By Kay Steiger
When Mark Bittman and José Andrés came to my place of work, The Center for American Progress, last month, I had the opportunity to sit down with Bittman and talk about a bunch of things. Weirdly enough, like many discussions I have, the topic turned to feminism.
For a long time, I resisted this notion that I should cook because as a feminist blogger and writer I resented the idea that as a woman I’m expected to cook.
I think it’s an unfortunate circumstance; it’s a perfectly understandable circumstance, but I think that’s why in the sixties, seventies, eighties, and well into the nineties food had a problem in this country because women—quite correctly—resented being put in that position. … But maybe in the long run, it’s better. … [Hopefully] you’ll wind up with a partner that either wants to cook or agrees that you’ll cook when you feel like it. That’s the status now and I know where you’re coming from, but you’re not going to not cook either because you like it.
Part of the reason food went downhill in this country, the biggest reason, was this marketing assault on the part of convenience food manufacturers that said, “Well, food needs to be convenient.” But why did people want to hear that? Women wanted to hear that because they were sick and tired of making dinner every night while raising the kids and, increasingly from the seventies on, having jobs. So they wanted to hear, “Oh, you don’t have to work so hard. You can put something in the microwave.” It’s too bad, it’s shit, but that’s the way it goes. But now we have—you know, maybe it’s just my kids—but we have this generation of people who say, “I want to cook. I want decent food and I’m not going to get it if I don’t cook.” Everybody knows you can’t afford to eat out all the time.
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