Cooking your way to a man’s heart…
I’ve long been interested in looking more closely at the genre of cookbooks, recipes, and other literature in its various different forms which forefronts this notion of cooking as a means through which women can work their way into a man’s heart. It seems such an “old fashioned” idea, yet we all know that food is one of those things that brings us together and that food and sex are two of the most primal needs or desires that we have. So surely, if you can cook well, then you have a tool through which you can attract good people into your life and certainly hope to keep them around, or at least that’s the theory. I will agree that the woman as the sole provider of nourishment is too out-dated and that we have certainly moved into a food culture in which many of the culinary responsibilities are shared or somehow divided amongst other household chores. I hope that this means that we will soon be seeing a return to this type of literature that seems to have been so popular in the first few decades of the 20th century, for example The Settlement Cookbook: The Way to a Man’s Heart by Kander and Schoenfeld (1903), but in a new form, with the focus shifted to shared building of relationships through food. Not only can women treat their men well by feeding them wonderfully prepared meals, but men can do the same for their women, and they can both enjoy preparing food together for themselves, their friends, and families. Read through the poem below and just think about the embedded messages and how they might be incorporated into your food philosophy today.
How to Cook a Husband
In a lecture room, before a cooking school,
For cooking a husband was given this rule:
First, in selecting, to market don’t go;
The best you’ll find there, most surely no.
For although there are many, yes, galore,
The prime will always be brought to your door.
Don’t think for a moment, to bake or broil,
Much better tie in the kettle to boil.
Use a silken cord called comfort – ‘twon’t break,
But one called duty is apt to be weak.
To make him secure it is well, no doubt,
Yes! for aught we know, he’d be falling out.
And then, too surely if your back were turned,
He’d become, alas! both crusty and burned.
In cooking a husband you’ll plainly see,
Like lobsters and crabs, alive they must be.
Should he sputter and fuss, help there is none;
Some husbands do it until they are done.
Some sugar add, in the form of kisses;
You’ll find to absorb, he rarely misses.
Vinegar and pepper, use none at all;
But of spice you may add a sprinkling small.
Stir some, lest to the kettle he adhere,
Thus making him useless, I greatly fear.
Please not in his side some instrument stick,
For when he is done you will know it quick.
With proper treatment and excellent care
You’ll find him, indeed, delicious and rare.
Goderich, Lake Huron, Canad
from Famous Old Recipes Used a Hundred Years and More in the Kitchens of the North and South Contributed by Descendants ( 1908 )