Sunday, December 28, 2014

Culinary Capers: Black Man Cooking (Week 0)

SO, I'M A BLACK MAN FROM the South who grew up in a family with very "traditional," i.e. sexist, gender roles where, on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, men refined their jive-talking and armchair quarterbacking in the den around the TV and women spun their stories and generational recipes around the stove in the kitchen.  I remember the rare occasion as a boy where I'd cross the imaginary lines into what in my family was considered the "woman's domain." The way my entrance into the kitchen would stop time and stop conversations made me feel like a White man who'd accidentally entered into a Black club.  I may as well had stumbled into the jungles of Thailand or the countryside of Poland; it was that bewildering and strange.

As I got older, I learned that there were many Southern men who, on the contrary, were rather good cooks.  And as I became a young adult, I marveled at the new wave of male TV chefs--Emeril Lagasse and Justin "ga-ron-tee" Wilson.  And despite my otherwise progressive and feminist leanings, it took decades for me to undo the mental shackles that stood between me and having the confidence to consistently work a stove to do something beyond boiling an egg.  So, for 2015, I'm committing to become a "better" cook, by cooking at least one dish per week, and blogging about it.

To baseline expectations, I'm starting out having never worked an outdoor grill and my idea of spaghetti is, much to my embarrassment, taking store-bought Ragu, mixing in some ground meat, and pouring it over the noodles.  I eat out--a lot.   I have a few recipes I've followed over the years to create edible meals, but not in a way where I'm confident in cooking for company.  So, to build suspense, I'll put a challenge out to myself.  Can I become a good enough cook in time to host Christmas dinner?  Only time will tell!

No comments: