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Opening Arguments


If you thought home coooking was a good thing, a way for the family to share and enjy quality time together, well, silly you. Don't you know home coooking is a tool of oppression?

The home-cooked meal has long been romanticized, from ’50s-era sitcoms to the work of star food writer Michael Pollan, who once wrote, “far from oppressing them, the work of cooking approached in the proper spirit offered a kind of fulfillment and deserved an intelligent woman’s attention.” In recent years, the home-cooked meal has increasingly been offered up as the solution to our country's burgeoning nutrition-related health problems of heart disease and diabetes. But while home-cooked meals are typically healthier than restaurant food, sociologists Sarah Bowen, Sinikka Elliott, and Joslyn Brenton from North Carolina State University argue that the stress that cooking puts on people, particularly women, may not be worth the trade-off.

[. . .]

But while cooking “is at times joyful,” they argue, the main reason that people see cooking mostly as a burden is because it is a burden. It's expensive and time-consuming and often done for a bunch of ingrates who would rather just be eating fast food anyway.

But a more sensible person who likes cooking says this in response:

Forming a family is hard, not because of poverty or class or sexism (though those things can make it harder). Forming a family is hard because, hey!, there’s another person here, and he has his own ideas about how the household should be run, and also, he’s in the way. Did we really need sociology researchers to point that out?

[. . .]

We shouldn’t over-idealize home cooking as some glittering apex of human experience that no decent person can do without. But let’s not remedy the cultural overshoot by demonizing the preparation of a decent, healthy meal as a grueling chore that stonkers all but the most privileged and dedicated cooks. Cooking at home is often fun, and it’s almost always cheaper and healthier than the alternative — and tastier, if the alternative is picking up a tray at the high school cafeteria. It can, of course, be stressful — but it can be a lot less stressful if you will repeat after me: “I’m not running a restaurant. I’m running a home.

Exactly so. Cooking, like anything else, can be good or bad, fun or tedious, depending on what you put into it and what you expect to get out of it. I've always liked to cook, unlike some of the women in my life, so once I was out of my mother's house I did more cooking for than enjoying the benefits of being cooked for. People who don't cook are missing on one of the best experiences of having a good meal, anticipating the final result as everything comes together and smells start to mingle and the final appearance starts to take shape.