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Cooking is not a gendered activity, but an essential survival skill. Children need to grow up knowing that dads cooking in the kitchen is as normal as moms!
Yes my dad cooks, and no, it’s not right to ask what my mother does.
My earliest memory is of my dad and mum in the kitchen. I don’t remember what they were making, but I do remember them standing at the kitchen counter, talking and cooking. Both of them.
As I grew up, the sight of a man in the kitchen was not new for me. My dad chopping the vegetables, my mum, grinding the spices. Him peering over the curry to see if it’s ready, and her preparing the dough.
To me, there was nothing strange about the scene I mentioned. However, the looks I got from classmates and later colleagues, when they realised the food I ate and offered them was cooked by my dad, can only be defined as strange.
Over the years, I have received a variety of remarks. These ranged from, ‘Wow, you are so lucky’ to ‘Your mother must be so lucky.‘ And even ‘What does your mother do then?’ when told that the paneer butter masala, or the Chicken manchurian or Soya special in my tiffin was prepared by my dad.
Pardon me, but I don’t see the luck in that. All I see is a couple who shares the responsibilities that come with running a house. My parents were sharing the workload since the 90’s, way before the pandemic and way before it became a trend.
Having a dad who cooks is amazing. On countless occasions when my mother was unwell or when there was an emergency, she did not have to worry about us. She knew my dad would rustle up something, and we wouldn’t stay hungry.
Even today, my dad knows everyone’s favourite dish in the family, from the oldest to the youngest member and he makes sure that he prepares it. He knows how we like our mattar-paneer just so or which of his aloo sabji’s is our favourite. On not so good days, it’s his food that we turn to for comfort and it never disappoints.
Normalising boys and men who cook is necessary and it starts with us. With mothers, sisters, wives, and girlfriends.
If I ask you to name a famous chef, without thinking, chances are you will name a man. Most professional kitchens are and have been male dominated. Why is that boys can look at cooking as a profession but not give two thoughts about entering the same kitchen if it isn’t for work ?
When boys go abroad to study, they are forced to learn to cook, to feed themselves. Why, then when they get married or return home, they rarely step foot in the kitchen? And why is it okay for a boy to not how to cook but a catastrophic disaster if a girl doesn’t?
We need to teach children irrespective of their gender the basic skill that is cooking. Cooking is not a gendered activity. It is an essential survival skill. Children need to grow up knowing that dads cooking in the kitchen is as normal as moms.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Chef
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French Teacher by day, Anusha can be found reading books, blogging, gardening or searching for
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