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Cooking With "Modernist Cuisine." The Gender Divide


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Of course the tom-boyish nerdy girls here are going to speak up in their own defense.

Tom-boyish nerdy girls? Didn't think I was one of those. :blink: Guess I better get rid of all my designer purses and shoes....

And it could also be that more of the women on here are just too busy running busy households to devote so much attention and mental rigor to MC?

Really? Maybe it's just me, but my husband does all the housework. The only thing I do is cook, because it's something I enjoy.

Mental rigor? You mean I have to think????

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I'm a professional chef, and a woman. I don't have the books. I am interested in reading them but not ready to make the investment to buy. I was more interested in the photography than anything else from what I saw about the book in the press.

I cater as my primary line of work and would have to invest such a large amount in the equipment to produce some of this type of food--for guests who largely don't really care about it--that it seems a little silly to go play in the modernist cuisine pool. I've eaten some avant-garde food in restaurants but haven't been impressed enough to experiment in my own kitchen. But sometimes I wonder if there's a whole world leaving me behind because of my general disinterest in the ingredients and techniques involved. Maybe I can't sell it, but does that mean I shouldn't learn more about it? I'm open to persuasion here. I have chef and passionate amateur friends, including female friends, who are comfortable with modernist cuisine...but I haven't been convinced yet.

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Male, don't have the books, not terribly interested. More interested in making food that people really eat- that has a story- than making foams and stuff. I realize that's terribly reductive, and I don't have anything against those interested in it. Just not my thing. Ate at Alinea, really enjoyed it, but it doesn't have the same soul that a dish passed down through generations in the old country does.

The science is cool, but to me, it isn't dinner.

ETA: I own a PID that I've used for sous vide, and it bored the crap out of me. Food is about smells and sights and senses.

Edited by MikeHartnett (log)
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I'm female and in my late 20s, amateur hobbyist, and I have the books. I'm absolutely new to sous vide, or indeed, any form of modernist cooking. The cost wasn't too big an issue for me (single, no dependents) given that this is about my sole adult hobby.

I love the books. I'm not diving straight into the cooking because I want to take my time reading the entire set (I'm at volume 4) now. I had a reasonably equipped kitchen (i.e., table vacuum sealer not chamber, stand mixer etc) and I recently added the Sous Vide Supreme to my countertop. I've been considering the purchase for some time now, reading material available on the internet and not being entirely convinced that going sous vide was something worth investing. After reading through the first three volumes, I was utterly convinced I wanted a sous vide set-up.

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I'm not sure if any of this has to do with gender, but I do think maggie might be on to something here. Of course the tom-boyish nerdy girls here are going to speak up in their own defense.

And it could also be that more of the women on here are just too busy running busy households to devote so much attention and mental rigor to MC?

Next time I want some totally reductionist and semi-judgemental bon mots, I'm coming to you!

Seriously? I don't actually disagree that the sciency aspects of MC cookery might appeal more to the engineering/mechanical orientations that are more GENERALLY apparent in men, but the girl (not woman, btw?) who is into this stuff is best characterised as "tom-boyish and nerdy"? Please.

And by your reasoning, many of the men on here are 'likely' to be far too busy being primary breadwinners and captains of industry to devote the required "mental rigour" to MC, surely? :rolleyes:

Anyhow, back to topic at hand - I don't have a clue as to a WHY about the supposed gender divide and as usual in this type of debate, can only claim to speak for myself - I'm a she-beast and I want MC, but won't order it for a good while yet. It's not so much about the expense as it is about kitchen space to hold all the a) equipment and b) experimentation I'll no doubt want to commence upon.

I'm moving slowly into sous vide (with a rice cooker/Fresh Meal setup) and I love it for the textures I can create. Only since I've gotten into SV have I bought a proper thermometer, started to think about pasteurisation times and the effect of temperature on different kinds of protein, etc - I actually really enjoy the science of it, though lest that make me tomboyish, I'm determined not to let the growing fascination I have with MC get in the way of my shoe shopping and lingerie pillowfights. :wink:

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While I can certainly understand why anyone wouldn't want to spend $450-600 on a cookbook, regardless of how excellent it is, I caution the haters and luke-warm types who have concluded, based on misinformation, that the book is merely a collection of space-aged gizmos, powders, and foam. I've made the best pastrami, chili oil, rhubarb syrup, beef stew, and vinaigrette I've ever made following the book's guidance; I have an improved understanding of my skillet, broiler, charcoal grill, and deep fryer too.

For those of us interested in cooking what they've always cooked in better, more intelligent ways, the book is a treasure trove. And while the gizmos, powders, and foams are, too, exhaustively explored and explained, I would hate for anyone, man or woman, to judge this book by its cover -- or by some techno- or information-phobic reviewer who didn't bother to read it.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Honestly, I've avoided MC because I don't have the time it seems to require, and don't want to be frustrated by that. I think most women don't have the time. Maybe if I had a wife...

the gadget thing is another thing. If you can't cook it with 2 knives and a saute pan, is it food?

But seriously, I'm open. Plan to look this summer...when I have more time.

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Honestly, I've avoided MC because I don't have the time it seems to require, and don't want to be frustrated by that. I think most women don't have the time. Maybe if I had a wife...

the gadget thing is another thing. If you can't cook it with 2 knives and a saute pan, is it food?

But seriously, I'm open. Plan to look this summer...when I have more time.

I think you might have it here, from my particular female point of view.

If Kerry Beal,is a serious MC cook, as well as being a doc, a confectionery teacher and a mother, it shows how better women than I can swing this!

And to all you tomboy cool woman cooks:you rock. I love eating it, but the equipment, the time involved...meh. I'm going to maintain that the tools, the coolness, are mostly attractive to guys, but I'm known for opening mouth and inserting sous vide foot.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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My husband and I are "Dual Income Grown Kid" family. It still took me until December to pre order MC. I barely got my first edition shipment! Very happy with it. I also have the original polysciense circulator made when they were biotech company. MC helped me to find and join egullet while waiting for my copy to arrive. Not sure if my (female) gender makes a difference in buying MC or cooking from it. My husband does not cook BTW. He does eat well though.

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Maybe if I had a wife...

If Kerry Beal,is a serious MC cook, as well as being a doc, a confectionery teacher and a mother, it shows how better women than I can swing this!

Gotta confess - as indefatigable as you guys think I am - I haven't had the kind of time lately that I need to really get in to MC. So Anna get's it first - she'll keep me apprised of all the important stuff I need to know for now!

It would be nice to have a wife...

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I have a hypothesis (based on nothing but intuition). Perhaps the MC divide is not based on gender but on the traditional bakers vs cooks divide. MC is a very baking - like approach to cooking. Lots of measuring and precision. "What fun is that?" say some.

Sent from my Droid using Tapatalk

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I have a hypothesis (based on nothing but intuition). Perhaps the MC divide is not based on gender but on the traditional bakers vs cooks divide. MC is a very baking - like approach to cooking. Lots of measuring and precision. "What fun is that?" say some.

Sent from my Droid using Tapatalk

I like your hypothesis; I rarely bake because I find following recipes to be tedious and not much fun.

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Of course the tom-boyish nerdy girls here are going to speak up in their own defense.

Tom-boyish nerdy girls? Didn't think I was one of those. :blink: Guess I better get rid of all my designer purses and shoes....

And it could also be that more of the women on here are just too busy running busy households to devote so much attention and mental rigor to MC?

Really? Maybe it's just me, but my husband does all the housework. The only thing I do is cook, because it's something I enjoy.

Mental rigor? You mean I have to think????

I know my post was full of stereotypes; there are always many exceptions. Things are getting better but research has shown that, especially if there are kids involved, woman do the majority of the household stuff, even when both are working. I was just speculating on an answer to the question posed.

And the "nerdy" reference was used in reacting to abadoozy's language in her post. I certainly didn't mean to offend anyone and apologize if I did.

Edited by angevin (log)
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And the "nerdy" reference was used in reacting to abadoozy's language in her post. I certainly didn't mean to offend anyone and apologize if I did.

Hmmm, I just looked back to her post. What exactly inspired you to use the word "nerdy" from her post? Is it that she's an engineer? Likes video games? Or enjoys science fiction? :hmmm:

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And the "nerdy" reference was used in reacting to abadoozy's language in her post. I certainly didn't mean to offend anyone and apologize if I did.

Hmmm, I just looked back to her post. What exactly inspired you to use the word "nerdy" from her post? Is it that she's an engineer? Likes video games? Or enjoys science fiction? :hmmm:

Oops! You're right - no "nerdy" in her post. I can only suppose that it was the tone of her post that put that idea in my head. Funny how the brain works. The "tom-boyish" thing was in reference to her mentioning that she's use "to being in the boys club", but I'll admit, the "nerdy" thing was a product of assumptions sprung from my own feeble mind. Double apologies. :blush:

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Really? Maybe it's just me, but my husband does all the housework.

I think that, unfortunately, it well may be just you.

It certainly wasn't me.

And trying to get a tasty dinner for a big family on the table every night when you're the only one putting in any effort toward running the household certainly does cut into your time, mental and physical energy, spirit, enthusiasm, creativity...well...everything.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Really? Maybe it's just me, but my husband does all the housework.

I think that, unfortunately, it well may be just you.

It's not. There are others out there who are pretty busy househusbands. My wife, for example, hasn't prepared a meal unless I'm out of town in years.

I think that goes to the difficulties of this topic. eG members tend to be a non-representative group, being a lot more interested in cooking, food, drink, and so on than most folks. Heck, it's why we're here! For those reasons, these sorts of crude gender schema don't necessarily apply, particularly across generations and communities.

Now, back to plotting what to do for dinner tonight before I dive into the laundry. :wink:

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Really? Maybe it's just me, but my husband does all the housework.

I think that, unfortunately, it well may be just you.

It's not. There are others out there who are pretty busy househusbands. My wife, for example, hasn't prepared a meal unless I'm out of town in years.

It's been my experience that there are a great many more husbands that do some, or even all, of the cooking than there are that do "all the housework."

I'm not saying it doesn't happen (it clearly does), but I do think that's still pretty rare.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Really? Maybe it's just me, but my husband does all the housework.

I think that, unfortunately, it well may be just you.

It's not. There are others out there who are pretty busy househusbands. My wife, for example, hasn't prepared a meal unless I'm out of town in years.

It's been my experience that there are a great many more husbands that do some, or even all, of the cooking than there are that do "all the housework."

I'm not saying it doesn't happen (it clearly does), but I do think that's still pretty rare.

I was going to make a similar comment, but I feel like I'd already gotten myself in enough trouble. Those of us here on eGullet consider cooking "fun", a hobby. When I was married and when kvetching with my married friends, it seemed husbands did the chores they enjoyed, while women were left to do everything else. Again, when young children are involved, the "everything else" can be pretty massive.

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I have the books, but honestly? I bought them to read rather than to cook from. I may end up making some things from them that don't involve pressure cookers, or sous vide equipment, but we'll see. I thought the content would be interesting enough to be worth buying for reading alone.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Those of us here on eGullet consider cooking "fun", a hobby. When I was married and when kvetching with my married friends, it seemed husbands did the chores they enjoyed, while women were left to do everything else.

It's a good point -- though there is at least one member who cooks as both a chore and for fun, sometimes, though not always, at the same time. :wink:

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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re: fun versus hobby. I can't imagine that anyone here hasn't cooked when they haven't wanted to at least sometimes. I try to explain that to my husband - yes, I like to cook, and often I have no problems working all day and then fixing a great dinner in the evenings. But that doesn't mean I want to do it every night, and that some nights it's a chore for me. Unlike other hobbies that can be put up & forgotten about when you're busy or tired or cranky, you still need to eat even when you don't want to cook, and there's only so much pizza that can be ordered in a given timespan.

And yes, that's why we have 3 freezers full of frozen yum-yums despite being only two people!

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Really? Maybe it's just me, but my husband does all the housework.

I think that, unfortunately, it well may be just you.

I attribute that to the power of food! If he doesn't do the housework, then I won't cook, then he won't have anything good to eat. I see it as a fair trade. :wink:

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Well, I finally got my books yesterday. Actually, I got 2 sets for the price of 1 because Amazon screwed up. Could have benefited a fellow egulleter but husband has a conscience and called Amazon. :blink:

Anyway, it may be a while before we cook from it since there is a lot to read. Also, I thought I have a good collection of gadgets but when I looked at the equipment list, I now know that I have very few. So, I may try some of the recipes with what I have on hand.

Edited by annachan (log)
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