15 September, 2011

The Sandwich As American Socio-Cultural Food Indicator AND (Anti)Feminist Implicator?

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!


  1. I like to eat 3 eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage, toast and orange juice (with lots of butter and occasionally some french toast if I'm really hungover) with a man, I like it when he orders the same thing and then I see if I can finish my plate or eat more than him. What can I say? I have a healthy appetite

  2. roasted sweet potatoes - one of my favourite things. why would anyone Deprive themseleves of such great plessures. do you have any recipes with sweet potatoes?

  3. Thanks for the comment! I do not have many recipes for sweet potatoes because I usually just pan saute them as I would regular potatoes with butter, onions, garlic, and/or other root veggies or hearty leafy greens (chard, collards, etc.). I do however think they are a great substitute for pumpkin in bread, muffins & pie & would suggest just adding them into any recipe that calls for any other kind of squash or tuber. The difference of course is that depending on how small of pieces you cut the sweet potato into, you may have to cook them a little longer to get them soft enough to use in those recipes. That's simple enough by rubbing them with oil or butter, putting into the oven on a medium temperature, & roasting until soft. I wouldn't recommend ever microwaving them!! Try this recipe for flavored, roasted sweet potatoes: http://www.chow.com/galleries/48/the-basics-how-to-make-roasted-sweet-potatoes, or this one for pie: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/sweet-potato-pie-recipe/index.html, or this one for bread: http://www.chow.com/recipes/11150-pecan-and-sweet-potato-bread.


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