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Charlie Stewart
Real men don't cook
They grill, in a meditation on the bond between males and meat
Sunday, June 09, 2002
cookWith Father's Day next week, it's worth contemplating why the world's most renowned chefs are male, but men don't like to cook. This question falls into the same category as the age-old puzzle of why we have yards when we don't like to mow, or why men go out and buy their first convertible the same week they are being fitted for a toupee.
I've personally known only a few chefs in my day, but I have never witnessed them actually preparing any food. They are usually standing before a hefty slab of prime rib at the head of a buffet table. They wield long, sharp, shiny knives and can precisely slice you a thick or thin piece of roast beef before sending you on your way down the line to the vegetables.
Who has actually cooked the food, I don't know. One can only speculate that by the amount of complaining men do about cooking there must be a phalanx of females back there in the kitchen, and that the chef, with his big, impressive chef's hat, is just out there for show.
The only time I've ever seen a guy's eyes light up about the subject of cooking is when you bring up grilling. Grilling makes a man whole. This is a thrilling experience for the male gender. He has a job to do. He's given a hunk of raw meat and a mission. Bring it back so it's edible. To his delight, this involves equipment and pyrotechnics. He gets to light something on fire.
Unfortunately, he has to have done a little planning -- like make sure there is enough propane in the tank. It's a very pathetic looking master of all creatures that comes back to the kitchen, still bearing the same raw meat, confessing in a voice, hardly above a murmur, "We've run out of propane." Note the "we." As if he had anything else to do all winter except get the propane tank filled.
Once the fire is going, though, grilling requires an incredibly small amount of skill. A good piece of chicken can be burnt brutally and you can simply peel off the charred skin and still find tender chicken meat inside. Or, if your family starts to cut into the chicken and blood is squirting in their eyes, you can always slap it back on the grill until it's done. Either way, you're a hero. You've contributed at least something to the home life. You're complete.
Best of all, there are no pots and pans to clean after grilling. Men maintain a false sense of security in believing that while the grill is warming up, it cooks off all the bacteria and germs from the time before. Holding to the notion that what you can't see can't hurt you, men relish in the idea that a few quick scrapes with the grill brush are enough to meet FDA guidelines for grill sanitation -- as long as you at least get the big chunks off.
Grilling also requires no timing. When the meat is cooked you yell to your wife in your loudest outside voice, "Honey, the ribs are done!" And she'll have the baked beans, homemade potato salad, corn on the cob and salad from her garden ready to go on the beautifully set table, along with a freshly poured glass of your favorite beer so you can quench your thirst after so successfully completing your task.

Your wife and children can then raise their glasses and give a toast to you, "Happy Father's Day!"
Re-printed with permission from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


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