Thanksgiving is a time for reflection and a time for family. Some of my fondest memories as a kid growing up in Baltimore, MD are from Thanksgivings past. Not only because of great food, family laughter and even drama, but because as a boy, all I ever needed to do was clean the vegetables and eat the meal. I have vivid memories of being told by my grandmother and aunts to join the others in the kitchen to clean after the big meal only to have my grandfather walk in and say “get those boys out of this kitchen.” Oh, how me and my brother would saunter off to a corner and snicker as our girl cousins would be left in the kitchen to clean. Fond memories indeed.
My grandfather was of a different time where the kitchen was a woman’s domain and no place for a boys or men alike. I loved him dearly for that as a child, but, in the long run, he did us no great favor. We were deprived of learning skills that we would need later in life as young men learning, needing to fend for ourselves.
Despite the fact that most of the world’s most revered and respected chefs are men, the kitchen is still seen as a woman’s domain. I’m always amazed when I meet men who profess to knowing nothing about preparing a meal. It is basic survival after all. And our society continues to perpetuate, through popular culture, the notion that men are disastrous in the kitchen. Even when searching for images for this post, many portrayed images that suggested man’s epic culinary failure.
Cooking requires great skill, precision, creativity, concentration and understanding of technique and science. It is not an easy endeavor. Despite my upbringing, I have been cooking Thanksgiving meals for my family for the past 20 years. I have sacrificed a lot of football games on turkey day and well earned downtime for the sake of filled, satisfied bellies. I do so because I love to cook and I understand that it is not my wife’s sole responsibility. In a day and age where most households require two earners, every man should know how to cook, how to partner in providing for the family. Shared responsibility beyond traditional role playing. Thanksgiving provides the perfect opportunity to do just that. To hang out in the kitchen, sharing the load, serving as a role model to your children, bonding, laughing.
If you cook, I applaud you. I know many hominids that are doing their thing in the kitchen. Shoutout to Fabio Santos, Jr who will be throwing down some turkey and ham, Matt Hackworth who is firing up the grill in 32 degree weather, my mentor Neil Best and his sweet potato pie, Davine Bey who is preparing duck pastrami, my dentists and good friend Dr Fred Gilbeaux who has fired up the smoker and Anthony Terry who has his hand in many dishes. These men who cook are setting a shinning example for all of us hominids to follow. We salute you! For the rest of you, I say grab yourself a recipe, get your ass in the kitchen, and get to cooking!
Happy Thanksgiving to all!