So right now I’m writing this instead of starting supper. I should be starting supper. I’m (habitually at this time of day) thinking about what to make for supper. My thinking is generally tempered by two factors: 1) what do we have in the house, & 2) what do I have the energy to put together right now.
Some days, my thinking about supper starts in the morning. These are days when the energy quotient is high, the agenda minimal, & the grocery shopping was happily accomplished the previous afternoon. Supper on these days might be (unnecessarily) elaborate dinners for two, usually involving pods of leisurely prep activities liberally sprinkled with time-wasting forays into the garden. Somedays, I have this time for leisure & waste. Somedays, the result actually measures up to the effort.
My mother-in-law Jean made supper for nine humans of various ages nearly every single day for three decades. My own mother only had to cook for six; she was lucky to have a break when we went out for lunch Sundays after church, & weekly in the summer when my father toyed with coals in the backyard BBQ.
Yeah, women are the ones who feed our families multiple times every day, assessing what’s available, how much time it will take to accomplish this particular ‘household chore’ (among many) in order to get food on the table at a reasonable hour, & to what degree the food we offer up might achieve a sense of satiation & satisfaction for our husbands, children, grandchildren, friends, other family members, etc etc. OK OK – I know there are men who are the family cooks, & not just a few women who refuse to succumb to this ancient sexual division of labor, but the norm is, well, still the norm. Worldwide, women are the household cook 7 times more often than men in Asia, & 4 times more often often than men in the ‘developed’ world.
So here we are, feeding the flocks day in & day out, with our smoking fires & our sharp (or not) knives & our rough hands & our hot pots. Nevermind that other family animals may also be underfoot: cooking is dangerous work! It’s inevitable that the knife will slip, the pot will spill, the fire will burn…I’ve taken my share.
It’s curious to me that women get so little appreciation for our perseverance with this fine art of feeding…&, to top it off, that men are revered as the finest cooks – ah, excuse me, chefs. I guess curious really isn’t the right word – totally annoying is more accurate. I read a quote somewhere in defense of this (only-one-of-many) manifestations of sexism (- hey, there’s a classic word we should bring back) that, well, “men cook, women feed.”
Yes sir, we do feed. Watch out though – someday we may tire of it. My long-time friend Zig recently declared that now she’s only cooking “when I feel like it” & “when I can be creative”. This surprising announcement from a sister also afflicted with the ‘good wife’ syndrome got me seriously assessing my own feelings about daily feeding. Thankfully, R is definitely showing great chef potential. He doesn’t yet feed, but that’s OK – he’s (only) a guy.
Always Praise the Cooks!!