Caveman Cooks

Ever since I was nine years old, I have wondered about the idea that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. I still don’t know exactly where women belong, but it seems to me that when a woman is in the kitchen, she is often just getting in the way of a man trying to cook dinner.

My oldest sister married an Italian man who knew how to cook. He cooks. Their children are all happy she doesn’t. My sister-in-law has a deal with her husband: he cooks, she does the dishes. It’s a match made in kitchen heaven. My own situation is similar. I cook, I do the dishes, Liz does both on special occasions. She makes dinner when we have company and does dishes a couple times a week and after she has trashed the kitchen making a huge meal for company. It works for us.

In a very complicated scientific study of all the celebrity and guest chefs found on the Food Network website, it turns out that men outnumber women 2 to 1. This proves my original premise: that a man’s place is in the kitchen.

But here is the paradox. Cooking, in general, is not very manly. If it were, there would be a big screen TV where the pantry should be so we could watch the Lions play while we were cooking the turkey on Thanksgiving. Instead, the kitchen TV has a girlie screen that is so small it is impossible to watch any sports at all. Besides Emeril, men don’t throw things into the pan and yell “Bam!” (We could, but chances are good that a lot of it would end up under the burner and eventually catch fire.)

So why do many of us do it? And why do those men who don’t cook feel a tremendous sense of inferiority and lack of self worth? Does cooking allow us to get in touch with our feminine side? I don’t think so. My theory ties in with my overall hypothesis that men need to stay in touch with their ancient ancestor, the Caveman. Caveman Og had to hunt for his food. When he brought a freezer full of mammoth steaks back to the cave, his wife Igla was more than happy to cook it up for their children, Og Jr. and Iggy (that was a girl’s name back then).

However, when Og was out on the hunt, which often took days and days of stalking and attacking (this was before bait piles and tree stands), he had to cook for himself and his hunting buddies. The food had to be good enough to not only nourish them but help them ignore the fact that they were sleeping on the cold prairie ground with other hairy, smelly men instead of cuddled up in a nice warm cave with their hairy, smelly wives. Anyone can cook a mammoth, but it takes a man to make prairie grass, slugs, and mud into a culinary treat.

So, when a man enters a kitchen with an apron on, his psyche yearns for those primeval days when men hunted, men killed, and men could whip up a really nice quiche. When you look at it that way, women want to be as far away from the kitchen as they can possibly get.

©2008, Mark Phillips

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 Women, it's true, make human beings, but only men can make men. - Margaret Mead

Mark Phillips is a Stay-At-Home-Dad and freelance writer. Along with raising his four children, he is developing a franchise called “The Vacuum IS a Power Tool.” It is designed to help SAHDs maintain that which makes us men, instead of hairy Mom-substitutes. He earned a B.S. in Communication/Theatre Arts and teaching certificates in English, public speaking, and psychology from Eastern Michigan University. After six years as a high school English teacher and Director of Dramatic Arts at Powers Catholic High School in Flint, Michigan, he changed careers and became a Stay-At-Home-Dad. or E-Mail

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