Articles such as these tell us that cooking is no longer solely ladies' business. Of course the most elite and famous chefs have traditionally been, and for the most part continue to be, men. The Best New Chef lists created by Food & Wine magazine have featured 92 men and 11 women in the last 10 years (89.3% male, 10.7% female); and while there were celebrations when a record-breaking 11 women won Michelin stars in the UK at the start of 2011, that was out of 143 Michelin-starred restaurants altogether. While cooking earns men elite status and fame in the restaurant world, cooking at home has traditionally been under-appreciated and done by women as part of their expected "domestic duties."
However this appears to be changing, and hopefully not only for the motivations described in Men's Health. A report released earlier this year that followed the lifestyle habits of Gen X adults (men and women born between the years 1961 and 1981) for nearly 25 years, shows that more men than ever before are putting in some serious hours in the kitchen. The study shows that Gen X men make 8 meals per week on average. Interestingly, this number was nearly identical whether men were married or single. This compares to married women who cook about 12 meals per week and single women who cook around 10. Another interesting statistic is that men and women watch cooking shows in the same numbers.
The author of the study, Jon Miller, the director of the International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy in the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, attributes the increased number of men who cook to the increased parity in job responsibilities and salaries between the sexes. “In previous generations, there was often a disparity, and the husband’s job brought in more money or was more time consuming. That’s not the case anymore,” says Miller. “Now there is much more parity between genders and in many cases, the woman makes more. That means there is a reallocation of time and duties for these people.” When women are also bringing home the bacon, it's a coin-flip about who will fry it up in the pan.
Personally, the male in my life enjoys cooking much more than I do. He routinely reads food blogs, watches Food Network, and considers himself a "foodie." When we are together, he does the majority of the cooking. This summer, while I was working long hours at a law firm, he would often have dinner prepared for me when I got home. Although I consider myself fortunate to have a man who enjoys cooking, it is no longer uncommon.
For the most part, Gen X and Gen Y men are far more willing and able to cook than our fathers. If left to his own devices, my Father would make himself microwave popcorn for dinner (as I have actually witnessed). It is not a question in my parents' house who will cook dinner. An infamous example of this phenomenon in my family involved my Great Grandfather. He was visiting my parents in California and declared to no one in particular, "I'm hungry. I would like a sandwich." After a few minutes of confusion, my Mom realized that this meant that she was supposed to make him a sandwich. It was just assumed that if the man wanted a sandwich, the closest woman at hand would make it. Today however, a Gen X or Gen Y man would be more likely to go grill himself a portobello sandwich with organic greens and homemade aioli on fresh focaccia bread from the local farmer's market.