Men taking to cooking like never before

… the New age man is now slowly entering what was previously considered a woman’s domain. Simi Kuriakose explores

After a couple of conversations and coffee, he buckles you up safely in the front seat of his car, takes you to his plush apartment and spreads this delicious meal in front of you, which ought to appeal to all your senses. You go, “Ohh My God!!”, smile widely and are ready to ping your best friend, “Woohoo!! I think he’s into me.” But before you hit that send button, here’s some news lady. The Gen Next Man is actually fond of cooking, and so, now your man preparing all those delicacies for you cannot be a sure shot sign of him having fallen head over heels.

A recent report by an international university has cited that Generation X men are
surprisingly more involved in shopping for food and cooking. Apparently, they go grocery shopping more than once a week, on an average, and cook about eight meals a week — much more often than their fathers did. Jon Miller, author of this report says, “Women, particularly married women, are still doing more cooking and shopping. But men are much more involved in these activities than they used to be. The stereotype that men can’t do much more in the kitchen than boil water just can’t hold water, as it were,” he said. So men have gone way beyond being just ‘The Typical Man’, is it? Well, paving their
way to the kitchen is quite a start for the once-upon-a-time-man who thought domestic chores were tasks only women ought to take responsibility for.

Ask clinical psychologist Mansi Hassan as to what she thinks about this study and she says, “Men have changed their outlook to their roles. They no more look at shopping or cooking as women dominated areas, and want to be independent even if it comes to doing the household chores. While there are many singles in recent times who are doing household chores, married men also help with domestic chores as well as parenting.”

How true is this for our country, especially since ours is a country where men are primarily the bread winners as opposed to women who’re the bread makers. Hassan says, “I think we are a long way away from changing the fact that ‘woman are the homemakers’. But there is definitely a gradual change. Men are enjoying discovering a new side to their personalities and have realised that it takes ‘two to tango’.”

Cooking in over eating out
Twenty-six-year-old, Arun Kartha, an MBA graduate, says, “I don’t think we cook more than our dad’s did. Absolute numbers could be higher because there are more men now, who work away from home. With rising levels of income, men have more cash to spend and hence shop more. But thanks to so many options in eateries, men, I think, prefer to eat outside than to take the pains to cook.” Nikhil Chopra, an advertising professional, agrees, and adds, “I wonder how many men actually take to the kitchen, I surely haven’t tread that path yet.”

Well, men will be men, and denying that they actually are interested in things once only women were associated with might be hard for them to accept. So we decided to ask some married women as to whether their husbands actually enjoyed cooking and buying groceries for the home.

Do married men enjoy cooking
Neelanjana Gaugh, assistant professor, says, “In an institution like marriage both men and women are stakeholders, and they don’t want to miss out on the fun that shared responsibilities bring in. Be it tossing up veggies in the kitchen, doing the dishes, laundry, picking up groceries, or deciding on the menu… these are just coming so naturally to men now. My scientist husband loves his weekend cooking and shopping as much as he loves his lab experiments! Shobha Khandelwal, a bank employee, says, “When I am busy on the weekends and am away from home, my husband would cook lunch by the time I was back; and what variety – momos, idlis, rice-daal-veggies! Whenever I return from a holiday from my mom’s place, he ensures that the house is spic-and-span, (whoever said men don’t bother changing the bed spread). Yes, I feel at least where I am concerned, my husband is a much better husband than my father is to my mom (though daddy wont like that!).

Neha Malude, writer, sums it up with these lines. She says, “I do think Gen X men like to get into the kitchen more than their elders did. And most men like to say they hate shopping but that’s just their pseudo-masochism speaking. My husband loves to shop more than I do and he has more clothes than I do. Really! But, he lends me a hand in the kitchen too. He also loves to cook, so no complains there.”

What the study states:
– Married women cooked 12 meals a week, two more meals weekly than single women. For men, that number was eight a week, whether they were married or single.
– Gen Xers bought an average of eight fast-food meals a month and ate three meals in a ‘good’ restaurant in the same time frame. Unmarried men ate more fast food than married men, or women.
– Adults aged 31 to 51 cooked for guests once monthly. They talked about it more, discussing cooking or food six times a month.
– Men and women watched food shows on television four times a month.
– Half of Gen Xers said they liked to buy organic foods at least some of the time; most had a ‘low level of understanding’ of genetically modified foods.

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