Julia never referred to her viewers as “housewives” — a word she detested — and never condescended to them. She tried to show the sort of women who read “The Feminine Mystique” that, 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. (A man’s too.) Second-wave feminists were often ambivalent on the gender politics of cooking. Simone de Beauvoir wrote in “The Second Sex” that though cooking could be oppressive, it could also be a form of “revelation and creation; and a woman can find special satisfaction in a successful cake or a flaky pastry, for not everyone can do it: one must have the gift.” This can be read either as a special Frenchie exemption for the culinary arts (féminisme, c’est bon, but we must not jeopardize those flaky pastries!) or as a bit of wisdom that some American feminists thoughtlessly trampled in their rush to get women out of the kitchen.
It’s probably also worth mentioning that cooking — done correctly — can also be an act of seduction, whether you’re a man or a woman. Cooking is art and alchemy rolled into one. If I could sum up Pollan's article in one sentence, it would be: We should all be cooking more.
Thinking about the gender dynamics of cooking got me thinking about the gender and wine. As with cooking, I’m thinking about the way that wine is viewed in this country.
If you look around at most parties, you’ll see men drinking beer or liquor and women drinking wine. It depends, of course, on what kind of a party it is and what part of the country you’re in, but I’ll bet it holds true more often than not.
However, if you look at the wine business, you’ll find more men making wine and selling wine, more men working as sommeliers and even more men blogging about wine.
Just as with grilling is more masculine than baking, red wine is somehow more masculine than white wine.
It reminds me of a guy who came into the wine store one day and asked me to point him to the Arbor Mist. This big, burly guy picked up a bottle of Peach Chardonnay and said, “I know it’s not very manly, but on a hot day at the beach — there’s nothing better.”
I say, Go for it, brother. Drink what you like.
If I’m at a party, I don’t think twice about grabbing a glass of wine — red, white or sparkling. I make my choice based on what looks good and what I’m in the mood for.
Although, I won’t touch Arbor Mist. That’s just nasty.