Saturday, June 09, 2007

Women and cookbooks

There are now seven Congresspersons who have signed on to Kucinich's attempt to impeach Cheney. How many does it take? So far Pelosi just seems to ignore them. There will be a vote for no confidence on Monday for Gonzales. I'm sure that will move Bush to do something, probably give him a medal for distinguished service.

In the meanwhile I was thinking about cooking:

Women and Cookbooks

What is it with women and cookbooks? Why do they think they need so many? I have known many women who have many cookbooks. One woman, I will not mention her name, has hundreds of cookbooks. She also subscribes to at least two different cooking magazines. I don’t understand why, as she routinely cooks only about five different things: macaroni and cheese, wienies and beans, steak and baked potatoes, tuna wiggle, and on Sundays, barbecued chicken breasts. Now, at the risk of being snide, I can understand why you might need a cookbook for complicated dishes like macaroni and cheese and tuna wiggle, but wienies and beans? Steak? Her specialty was the Sunday night chicken breasts. She managed to take what was an unpromising item to begin with and turn it into a desiccated piece of protoplasm so tasteless even the dogs balked at eating it. This woman claimed to be a great cook and she certainly talked great meals: chicken cordon bleu, blanquette de veau, osso bucco, beef Wellington, truite en bleu, stuff like that. You know, dishes she would never bother to cook in a million years. But she loved talking about them and would, of course, order them on the two days a week she insisted on “reservations.” She never prepared deserts as she regarded them as fattening. This rule didn’t apply when she was eating out; then the most rich and expensive items on the desert menu were fair game.
She did have her own cooking style. She cooked everything until it stuck to the bottom of the pan. That’s how she knew when it was done. These impossible to clean utensils were put in the sink until they got washed. Who did the washing? Her husband, of course. Hot water hurt her hands. She could dirty more dishes just preparing macaroni and cheese than my grandmother used in cooking for an entire threshing crew. She had a kitchen the size of Vermont, no eight by eight foot rule for her. And she had every specialized gadget known to the culinary arts: specialty pans, whisks in all sizes, expensive French knives, egg poachers, rice cookers, spice grinders, cherry pitters, apple peelers, and special gadjets you would be lucky to use once in a lifetime. “You never can tell,” she used to say, “when you’re going to need something like this.”
She’s was a very nice lady. And she did love to eat. She was wonderful, as long as you didn’t stand between her and the food. I called her the Incredible Bulk. She didn’t think of herself as fat, just pleasantly plump. Actually, she was rather blimp-like.
On the other extreme I also once knew a woman who had no cookbooks. None at all. In spite of this impoverished situation she had somehow managed to learn to cook two different things: boiled tongue and bananas wrapped in bacon. The bananas were for breakfast, the tongue was for sandwiches. I never had the nerve to ask her how she managed to learn these culinary skills. She did tell me that she was so poor when she was in (a very expensive) college she had to split crab salads with her roommate. She also claimed not to know how to use a broom.
Come to think of it, I don’t think my mother had a cookbook. But as my father rarely ate anything other than bacon and eggs and steak and potatoes, it didn’t seem to make much difference. Mother was so desperate she would serve us steaks on a bed of lettuce, hoping we might accidentally eat some. She actually could cook other things, there was just no demand for them. As she didn’t really like to cook it all worked out pretty well except, of course, for my father’s untimely death. Eat your fruits and vegetables!


“Women,” as Zorba remarked, “They’re such helpless creatures. How can we not love them?”

1 comment:

Sara E Anderson said...

Um, this is pretty goddamn sexist. I'm sure you must be aware of that. And honestly, a little cruel - women are pigeonholed into doing all the domestic work, and you're complaining about how they do it?

If it's a joke, I don't get it.