Listening to old songs reminds me of my childhood; ambition and aspiration were heavily part of my life. I remember teachers telling me to “chase your dreams” and I believed them. Well, I half-hardheartedly believed them. I thought that dreams were possible for someone else, not for me. Now that years have passed before me, I stare at the mirror and see the wrinkle lines and ask myself was it worth it? I let my dreams slide away from me because of my shame. Amazing how I’ve let opinions overcome my own will.
“Men don’t belong in the kitchen.” I’ve heard that phrase for as long as I could breathe. I’d watch women cook from a far and see them piece ingredients together like a jigsaw puzzle. It was incredible to see the end product; a piece of art, before it’s beholder. For the majority of my life I felt ashamed of my passions. On Saturday mornings, when everyone was asleep, I’d cook quietly.
Maybe it’s my Middle-Eastern culture that caused the shame. My culture is very gender specific: Women cook and men work to support the family. A male wanting to explore the kitchen shelves is not acceptable. Later on in life, I found that its not just my culture that frowns upon men being in a kitchen.
I live in a mixed neighborhood in Brooklyn, mainly Caribbean and Jewish which share similarities to my own culture. Most mothers, or wives, or women in my neighborhood run their kitchens without any male influence.
In spite of that, commercials and advertising embraces women as the head of the kitchen. How many cooking, food, or kitchen appliance commercials feature men? Not many, if any. American culture does not encourage men to cook, even if Food Network embraces it. There is a difference in cooking professionally and cooking for the family.
I remember my senior year of high school, I decided that I would follow my dreams for once. I called every college and checked if anyone offered culinary arts. To my surprise most public colleges don’t offer culinary arts. It’s only offered at vocational schools and I couldn’t afford to pay a 25,000+ dollar tuition plus dorm expenses. This caused me to hide back in the shadows for years.
I actually felt ashamed for a large portion of my life because my interests didn’t match masculine perception. It sounds stupid? I dunno but I feel ashamed to even write this post. But I reached a point in my life where I lived in the shadows of others. When will I emerge from my shadow? Regardless of cultural perception, there is room in the kitchen for men.
I can be strong and also a beast in the kitchen. Men can “bring home the bacon” and they can cook it too. We are reliable in more ways than just financial support. The times ore changing and more men are emerging from the shadows as cooks. Hell, women are giving up cooking because of the amount of men that are taking over the kitchen duties.
So Today – I cook too!
I am my own person and I will not allow my interests to reside in darkness as an after thought.
I am a man that cooks.