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What is cooking?

Dr. Sudhirendar Sharma
Don’t get me wrong if I say that best chefs are (invariably) men. And, yet best of these culinary masters scorn at the idea of cooking at home. Occasionally, they do tickle the taste buds of their family with some exquisite preparations. But with kitchen being the traditional bastion of women, men don’t cook dinner for their wives in this part of the world. Even if enterprising men try their hand in the kitchen, their women tend to experience pangs of guilt!

Not anymore as there has been reversal of roles in the changing urban environment. A new breed of men are redefining traditional gender roles and embracing what has largely been a preserve of ‘woman’. While women are rubbing their shoulders in corporate corridors, men not only foresee menu for the day but plan the dinner before women return home. Their new found motto is: ‘you are what you cook’! In fact, these men are not complaining but are welcoming the change. It is trendy to be a stay-at-home husband, a win-win situation for both.

The experience, however, is mixed. A thirty-something is cool about his cooking skills. For him, cooking is the only thing he has done in his life where he attempts to do something and has results to show for it. For a office-going-near-sixty, however, it has been a daily ordeal because his wife hasn’t got a keen sense at cooking. To justify his ordeal among peers, not only does he portray himself a ‘real man’ (much to their amusement) but doesn’t miss any chance to present ‘cooking’ as a euphemism for a kind of therapy. Else, how could it have got going with him for decades?

Despite winds of change blowing across the kitchen window, many middle-age men still shrug at the idea of cooking. Much to the chagrin of their younger colleagues/friends, they prefer restricting ‘real men cook’ discussion for drawing room conversation only. For them there are two aspects to cooking: their wives ‘cook literally’ whereas they settle for ‘literal cooking’. After all, who would want to stand the quickest result oriented (cooking) test wherein you either fail or pass! It would be best to cook jalebi instead!


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