Bake Me A Man As Fast As You Can!
By Tamu Bakery, Jan 22 2016 05:12PM
"The ability to cook is actually built in our genes"
No matter of our gender, status, traditions or cultural norms.
The book Bringing Up A Boy has been on my shelf for years. I bought it some few years back when my son was newborn. "Around age two, children begin to reflect awareness of the gender distinctions - and stereotypes! - that the culture has been signaling since they were born. Only at a later stage of development can boys begin to understand that their first understanding of gender was superficial, confused, and rigid". For centuries we have been creating these models - 'boys should do this' and 'girls should do that'. In many societies if a boy or man admits to cooking or baking he is labelled as "gay". Cooking is a really interesting medium for considering gender roles (certainly for me anyway, being a foodie and founder of Tamu).
Whilst in my family all the women can compete for the badge of "best cook", one of my earliest memories is my step-granddad cooking most of the Summer evenings (because my granny was the head of a huge electronic department store and most of the time would come back late and shattered). I can't remember much of the taste of his cooking but I remember appreciating that cooking is just one of the jobs which men and women share equally. I remember my dad coming back from Central Asia placements as a young policeman and working in our kitchen on the "top secret" recipes he had been taught while abroad in our kitchen. There was something magical about watching dad cook whilst he told me stories about places and people he had met there. I remember the first lasagna my husband cooked for me and my sister 10 years ago. The bechemel and bolognese sauces had splashed all over the kitchen tiles, and it took ages to clean off, but he had managed to surprise me with a dish I never knew existed before. I remember my son's first salad he made for me last year - he was so proud of his beautifully cut cucumbers and tomatoes!
Men can cook and many enjoy cooking (not all, of course, like not all women). So let's not stereotype. Especially in the countries where it is seen as something abnormal! Last year, I was teaching basic baking skills to teenage boys in Tanzania. At first, they felt uncomfortable to even wear aprons and to whisk butter and sugar. But a few hours later after we had talked about gender roles and stereotypes, I could see the pure enjoyment on some of their faces, and the embarrased laughs had stopped completely. This was because we didn't just bake, we tried to break down those walls which separate the prescribed roles of mothers and fathers in their rural Tanzanian homes.
Recently I overheard a conversation between some mums here in Sri Lanka. For various reasons their sons didn't have a clue how to cook. So here's the deal, guys. I am putting together a session on how to bake a simple loaf of bread. You come and learn. And dedicate this learning to one woman in your life - be it mum, soulmate, sister or teacher. It will be fun, informative and with loads of cake (Tamu's cakes). Imagine her reaction when you bring back that loaf of bread, freshly made by you. The best gift ever. For her and you. The gift of equality.