. . .
I’m pleased to announce that in the matter of my exhaustive search for an apt, save a boyfriend, I have found myself a humble abode, and have successfully moved in. *Let’s all have a moment of silence*.
Side note: For those that don’t know me personally… I took a slight detour out of the country for work for a few months. Not important. But what is important is that during this time, my room was
snatched given up to another person, not as awesome as me… so technically Amma and I aren’t roommates anymore…physically, but in spirit we will always be.
But I digress.
Since moving into my apt, I’ve had to get my house in order- sorting out my Internet, dstv cable, my cleaner, getting roommates, doing some touches to the apt, and other seemingly menial tasks. Now that I am in what I would consider a ‘semi-stable’ state of life, one of the things I have vowed to start doing on a regular basis is cook.
I’m not sure if I should be announcing this to the world, but I don’t enjoy cooking (like others do). It’s not a deep hatred of sorts, more-so just something that’s not high on my list of pleasurable activities in life (watching the food network, high. eating, high. actual cooking, not so high). Living a lot on the road, in temporary situations, in hotels, on my company’s tab…these things don’t lend well to me being my own personal chef, and in the last little while, I haven’t had to do much of it. In times past when I was in a situation where I was established in an apt, it wasn’t any more economical for me to cook for a party of one, particularly when you add in the opportunity cost of doing other things with my time. So thats the context in which we find ourselves for this blog.
The funny thing is that some folks, even those close to me, equate enjoyment with ability… So a month ago, an old roommate of mine took the liberty of forcing a dinner party of six on me…one in which I would host & cook. With this
invitation badgering, it became evident that folks were hoping some sort of failure would occur to confirm preconceived notions: ‘But afua, can you actually cook?’ ‘You know you can’t use your house help for the dinner.’ Saa?*** Hmmm k. Well, it’s a good thing I’m up for a challenge, especially when I know the truth about myself, and that people would be put to shame.
And. put. to. shame. they. were.
I am happy to report that, I threw down… hard. Cooking a three-course delectable dinner -don’t play me. ‘Wow afua, this is really good.’ *side-eye* ‘Is it, really? I’m glad you like it.’ I
won’t will toot my own horn, because I had folks chowing down on food that they don’t even like, don’t play me. Or Amma, I dey lie? Like I like to say, don’t come for me… You will get stepped to, hard. Thank you.
Now that the air has been cleared and corrections made to folks’ asinine assumptions, I must ask: does my stock go up because I can recollect how my mother told me that this spice and that spice go better together, or because I can follow a recipe? Am I not the same woman as I was prior to you tasting my food? Am I any more or less ‘wifeable’ because of my culinary skills? …Well, you have to provide food for your family, folks say. It’s even biblical (Proverbs 31). *le sigh* Yes, this actually came out from my friend’s mouth. Well, I can’t argue with you on the bible, but what I know is that I’m not any less of a woman or any less of ‘wifey’ material before I cooked for you. I feel like folks need to relax on this cooking thing. I think people get caught up on things that naturally take their place- clearly I will
have to cook for my family, and for those women who don’t know how to cook, they will just have to figure it out- you’re gonna HAVE to learn at some point or find someone to do it for you. I guess it would be different if I couldn’t cook, but my issue is one of desire *le sigh*.
I met a friend of a friend who flat out told me (with amazing pride) that she doesn’t cook (she has a husband and two kids)… And she’s Ghanaian AND HE’S (born and bred) GHANAIAN. *Gasp* ‘Nope, I don’t cook… But what does that have to do with me providing food for my family?’ Good question, I guess. Is she any less of a woman because she has someone cooking dinner for her family, something that is tres common in this part of the world, might I add. You gotta find what works for you AND your spouse. If he’s cool with it, what be the problem? In Africa, it is easier to hire domestic help… So if women aren’t physically doing the cleaning or cooking, BUT it’s getting done (and they’re overseeing it- which isn’t a small task in itself) then what be the issue
, Lydia? Why do men, and other women for that matter, equate your ability (and desire) to cook as a super plus plus on the wifey material scale. It’s quite primitive, no? Now that we’re in an era where women work equally as long and hard as men, why is there still an expectation that the woman be the house cook and maid?
So if you’re not the traditional woman in the household, what do you bring to the table? Another good question. Firstly, can I say this: why do people act like African women who don’t cook don’t get married (have you ever met a woman never married say, “I wish I had learned cooking because thats what created my singleness.” Let me throw a caveat in here, I am talking about singling out the ACT of cooking, and not cooking as a representation of something bigger, ie. taking care of your husband, family, home). Secondly, to answer the question: there are a lot of things one can bring to the table apart from cooking, including: support for your man, peace of mind ( you’re a good cook, but you’re a nag 24/7…what’s the good in that?)…lets continue, your sex game is on point (both in frequency and performance), you’re honest with your man, you’re charming and have good morals/ ethics, lets see… You’re faithful, you’re confident in yourself, attentive, compassionate, you handle your business (and ‘take care of the home’), you stick up for your man, you’re respectful, and have respect for yourself, you’re a good mother, you’re caring, considerate, your vision is aligned with his … Or, these things don’t matter??
Yes, there is something to serving/ taking care of your man, no doubt… but tell me how a man would deny a woman with the qualities above if she didn’t cook or didn’t like to cook… OR is this a stigma thing with friends and extended family??? You know folks always say women are the ones who have unrealistic expectations of men, but this is one aspect of wifey that both men and other women perhaps need to rethink… I mean what are the ACTUAL necessities to a happy home. Or perhaps I’m rambling nonsense… And need to advertise myself to the world with the following hashtag: #icanACTUALLYcook
I’ll end with a little sermon I was listening to on the radio the other day. The gentleman speaking was discussing why he believes his marriage has been successful for 34yrs. He simply said, ‘I place no conditions on my wife.’
He went on: Love is the decision to commit and to meet the needs of someone else without any expectations. If there’s certain expectations, there will be disappointment (because we are human). Disappointment leads to divisions in the home, which often leads to divorce.
He used the example of waking up that very morning and going to iron his own shirt… I place no expectation on my wife to do it for me. And doing so means I am appreciative every time she irons for me… Every time she cooks.
I do believe this is the most convoluted post I’ve done since My Trip to Pluto. Lydia, it’s not your fault, clearly I have issues
when folks come after my wifeability and my ability to be a good mother. I still love you.
But on the real, certain conditions do destroy a relationship, and we need to challenge what it means to be a wife. Wifey doesn’t equal being a specific mold. Because as soon as you can’t meet the expectations… what happens to the love?
***This is a Ghanaian expression in twi for the phrase: ‘is that so?’. In my case here, sarcastically.
– – – –
Tell em’ why you mad, Afua!
I mean you mad, right?? Hahaha…
The thing is, I do not think that it was ever a sum zero game. I do not think that the point of bringing up cooking was to say you would make a terrible wife in its absence. I think that you are right, in the game of ‘ would you rather’, any man would rather an understanding, loving, supportive, sex-kitten over one who can just cook. But it’s never that kind of dichotomy is it? The truth of the matter is that the debate around being able to cook is more about what ‘cooking’ represents than the actual act.
As you admitted, your job had you jumping around the world and working RI-DI-CU-LOUS hours… at that rate, if you were married with that job, when would you have had any time to do things like ‘cater to your man, be supportive, etc. etc. etc.’— you would never be around. The amount of time, effort and emotional investment it takes to make a satisfactory meal that you can be proud to serve is equal to so many of the other attributes you listed— especially coming from a woman who is herself fully immersed in career and other extracurriculars. But this goes for both men and women really. Why do you think folks get all kinds of excited when they find out a guy can cook— #noBobbyFlay
Furthermore (perhaps unfairly so), women not being able to cook having the desire to cook has been associated with other things like:
- not wanting kids
- not wanting to raise kids without a nanny present 24/7
- not spending time out of the office
- being an egotistical, maniacal, OCD’ish crazy
- Oprah Winfrey
I think more than the Bible and all others, it’s really about what not cooking/ desiring to cook could potentially mean for your character and your ‘maternal instinct’. It’s definitely not fair— and somewhat of an erroneous causal relationship, but it’s so engrained in the social fabric of ‘Africanness’ and ‘Womanhood’ that it seems it would take an apocalypse to reverse the trend (good thing I plan on riding the Jesus train out of here… so I won’t have to find out myself)…
But there is hope yet… as you rightly pointed out. You. Can. Cook.
And even if you married a man that never required it of you… you would probably do it at some point anyway because on some level you have slurped the misogynist koolaid recognize what it means to cook and how intimate it is for both your husband and your kids. Not to mention how many cool points you get from the in- laws.
Cooking is one of those things that’s like… a nice back massage… or a serenade after work… or a surprise vacation to Turks and Caicos for your birthday weekend. It’s just icing on a cake… and who just eats icing??
So in defense of our silent roomie… and still somehow in agreement with you: not being able to cook does not de-wifey you, but being able to cook can upgrade your already existing wifey status.