Image from Picky Grouchy Non-Cook.
I found myself having lunch this week with my boss.
Not just my immediate boss or her boss, but the boss’s boss’s boss. Turns out, she’s a nice woman who is doing her best to lead the company in trying times.
I can’t remember what made me mention The Feminist Kitchen, but as soon as I did, she offered up that she doesn’t cook. Period. She even told a story about screwing up cheese toast for her daughter. She didn’t sound apologetic, but certainly confessional, and I went out of my way to try not to make her feel badly for not enjoying or knowing much about cooking.
And then I read this New York Times story by Jennifer Steinhaur complaining about the lack of homecooked foods at potlucks and bake sales. You lazy, misguided women, she seemed to be saying. You must not love your children or the women who cooked before you enough to prepare food from scratch when it matters most: When other people can judge you for what you do (or don’t) make.
Emily Matchar has written a much more thorough post about the ridiculousness of the article (what’s next? Complaints about moms who don’t sew their kids’ clothes?) on her wonderful New Domesticity blog, but for the purposes of this space, the article reminded me of all the times I’ve been trying to make non-cooks around me not feel badly for being non-cooks. Maybe it’s the holidays or the fact that I called this blog The Feminist Kitchen and not The Feminist Eater, but it seems like I’ve had a dozen exchanges recently like the one this week with powerful, enlightened women who throw down the guises and say — in the face of this growing food movement that includes too much shaming of people who either don’t cook or don’t know much about, say, sushi — “I don’t cook.”
Last month, another proud non-cook, Evan Harris, emailed me about her site, Picky Grouchy Non-Cook, which is part blog, part resource for other non-cooks. She has a series of profiles of non-cooks to help prove that “just because you are lame in the kitchen does not mean you are lame in life,” and an FAQ and manifesto that dig deeper into the psychology of what it’s like being a non-cook today. (Harris hints that non-cooks are as ostracized as smokers.)
The longer I’m in this food writing business, the more I see how snobbish even the well-meaning food world can be. There are lots of ways to keep yourself challenged and engaged with the world around you. Food is just one of them, but if it’s not at the top of your priority list, that doesn’t make you any less of a feminist in this kitchen.