Good news, guys: men are allowed to cook now! As long as it's meat, and not sissy baked goods.
The introduction to Esquire's How To Cook package explains, "It is no longer so cool to nuke buffalo wings from the frozen aisle. It's much cooler to fry your own chicken." It is pretty difficult to remember what is cool these days, and whenever I read Esquire, I have a little bit of sympathy for dudes who complain that standards of contemporary masculinity are too damn confusing. I feel especially bad for anyone who has to read Mario Batali's rallying cry to the kitchen, which concludes thus:
There are two activities in life in which we can lovingly and carefully put something inside of someone we love. Cooking is the one we can do three times a day for the rest of our lives, without pills. In both activities, practice makes perfect.
Get it? Mario has something to put in you. And it's made of meat. Unsurprisingly, Esquire's recipes focus heavily on the pleasures of the flesh. One, Country Pot Roast, actually comes with a picture of a hunk of meat inside a clamp. "Because men always did like tools." Although I should point out that eating dinner off your workbench could result in food poisoning, and also splinters in your vital organs.
Here is something real men do not do: baking. Except for Tom Junod, who takes one for the team and makes cookies just once, even though it is totally for chicks:
[W]hen Nancy told me that everybody was either a cook or a baker, she might as well have said that everybody was either a man or a woman. You can cook like a man. But you can't bake like a man, because men don't bake. Nancy said that because baking is easy, it's hard; that because anyone can, a lot of men can't, or won't. [...] If cooking represents control, baking represents surrender.
And men want to dominate their food! At least, that's the implication of much of the package, with the exception of a pretty straightforward (and woman-authored) piece on eating pink chicken. I'd write more about how this is a great illustration of the lazy stereotypes men's publications sling at dudes in lieu of actual thoughtful considerations of masculinity or even just basic useful advice, but my cookies are ready and I need to go stick some fucking flowers on them.
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