I have been reading this neat column in one of my favorite food mags poortaste since the column began a few months ago. It is titled "Eating Culture" and penned by Sarah Goldschmidt. It strikes my fancy by attentioning its focus on and linking two of my favorite subjects: culture and food! The latest edition of this opinion piece is on how our immediate environment shapes how and why we eat what we do. You know, the old Nurture over Nature argument that has had anthropologists arguing for decades now.
|Image courtesy of poortastemag.com.|
Goldschmidt also brings up how food is connected to ideas of gender roles and how certain notions of femininity have great power to influence what many women choose to eat based on what is considered "ladylike" in her culture. Goldschmidt postulates that in the United States, salad is often used as the scapegoat for womens' insecurities about their places in society. I agree. I would also add to that category anything labeled "low fat," or meat that is lacking any obvious blood and therefore connection to being killed or having been an animal at all (i.e., a medium-rare, T-bone steak). Come on...if a man does not find it sexy that I have a little blood on my lip after savoring a perfectly cooked (translation: red in the center), free-range Angus hamburger, I am already disappointed and uninterested in him!
|Me eating a Blue Moon beer-battered, pork sausage, corndog with homemade ketchup.|
I think a good way to bring equality to the sexes is to go back to the basics of what should bring every human joy: good food shared openly with loved ones, female and male. But in order to fully embrace that concept, we have to be able to eat our food in an atmosphere of acceptance that does not attribute gender concepts to our edible sustenance. Sure, I know that that is tricky. There are particular food items that absolutely elicit metaphors like oysters as being "feminine" (think real hard if you don't see the resemblance, and I bet you will get it), or a whole cornucopia of phallic vegetables (cucumbers, carrots, bananas, and for the real optimists, eggplants) labeled as "masculine." Endless myths, taboos and other cultural constructs have evolved over time that do their best to distinguish the genders from each other through food and eating practices. But all of that does not mean that a woman should feel ashamed to eat healthy, hearty foods in front of a man for fear that she will be looked at as disgraceful or "unladylike." I am not talking about over-sized portions or junk food here either, just sensible quantities of lovingly-prepared food that do not try to pass off a few waify vegetables, watered-down milk, fake butter, artificial sugar, and pasty chicken breasts as a meal in order to avoid seeming too "manly". Let's go ladies...we are the only ones who can truly change these stereotypical associations. Do not be embarrassed to take pleasure in eating some slow-grilled pork ribs, roasted sweet potatoes, homemade cornbread (with real butter), and farmers-market green beans with minced bacon pieces, especially if it is in front of a gentleman friend!