For a few glorious years, I lived with a roommate who loved to cook. Better than that, he also loved sharing what he made and — better still! — what he made was always delicious. As someone who likes to eat, but is terrible in the kitchen, I lived rather happily in this arrangement and was pretty devastated when it was all over.
My housemate was — to borrow the name coined by Jessica Pressler over at Grub Street — a doodie (dude + foodie), a.k.a a food obsessed man who insists on turning every meal into a production bigger than Phantom.
Pressler describes the "doodie" thusly:
You know the type. Has Heat or Fergus Henderson's Complete Nose to Tail on his bookshelf. Can sustain a remarkably long conversation about knives. Is super into his grill. Likes pour-over coffee. Is, at this moment, really excited about ramps. I could go on, but I won't, because I am sure you know one. New York City in 2014 is rife with doodies: You can find them stalking around Smorgasburg, attending knife-skills classes at the Meat Hook, writing lengthy, tumescent odes to the Bo Ssäm Miracle in the paper of record. Indeed, it's tempting to think of doodies as a New York phenomenon, the natural outgrowth of a city whose restaurants are packed with famous alpha-chefs. But then you remember Portland, and Austin, and Los Angeles, the setting of Jon Favreau's new movie Chef, which early reviews indicate is basically a doodie version of Under the Tuscan Sun. Oh, and don't forget the guy in Denmark with the foraging, and Dario Cecchini, the Italian celebri-butcher, and the Spanish guy who orgasms over ham.
Doodies are everywhere. There may even be one in your kitchen.
First, I will go on hunger strike before I allow the word "doodie" to come anywhere near a food related sentence. If you say it while hanging out around me, I will call the Department of Health and have your mouth shut down for a hygiene violation.
Moving on, the most pressing issue with the "doodie" (haha, "pressing issue with the doodie") is figuring out why we need the gross portmanteau to begin with. Doesn't "foodie" already cover the whole bo ssäm/ramp/knife-skills-obsessed shebang? Specifying that it's cooking FOR DUDES seems pretty peculiar when you consider that "foodie" is a term that's applied equally to men and women. It's about as necessary as calling men's pants "Mants," which is to say it's not necessary at all.
Pressler argues that there's a certain competitive edge that separates the — sigh — doodie from his female foodie counterparts.
"It's not like when women cook, in terms of nurturing someone," says Adam Rapoport, who, having made the jump from style editor of GQ to editor-in-chief of Bon Appétit, is a member of the Doodie Elite. "Guys like to talk about what they are doing, and nerd out, and compete. It's cooking as sport: I'm going to deep-fry a turkey this weekend. I'm going to make a bo ssäm."
If women really cooked to nurture, then maybe I'd do better than consistently inviting my friends over for dinner only to insist that we order takeout once they get here. But I'm a bad example because I don't like to cook for myself OR for other people. That said, I have a lot of friends — of all genders — who do.
While the former roommate who would make me handmade gnocchi after getting home from the bar at 2am was a guy, the friend who invited me over for beer-can chicken last week was a girl. And, while she was nice enough to share, I don't think she was doing it to nurture me. She was doing it because she wanted to try cooking something exciting and, like the men Rapoport mentions, she was interested in process, experimentation and showing off a little. Rightfully so — that chicken ruled.
On GrubStreet, Pressler also relays this story from a friend:
"My ex-girlfriend fancied herself a good cook," says my friend Dan. "And she was," he adds. "But I was better." One night, they ended up in a standoff over onions. "I wanted a dice, and she was doing a rough chop," he says. His girlfriend accused him of being condescending. "She got really mad," he says. She was like, 'If you ever talk to me like that again, I will fucking kill you.' And I got defensive. I was like, 'I won't, if you cut the onion right.'"
At this point, I don't think this is as much about men being obsessed with food as much as it's about people being rude to one another.
A lot of this seems to harken back to the whole "men are chefs, women are cooks" mentality. Dan felt like he was better in the kitchen and, even though he admits that his girlfriend was good as well, he insisted that she do things his way. That is condescending (although threatening to kill someone is also pretty un-chill, if you ask me). "Condescending" is actually how I'd describe a couple of the men quoted in Pressler's article — but, again, this probably less to do with them being into food and more to do with them being general dickheads.
In summation, cooking is for everybody and "doodie" — a nickname for poop — is gross and should have nothing to do with food prep. Also: bo ssäm is just a Korean preparation for slow-cooked pork, so all of these people acting like they deserve a Michelin star for making it can calm the fuck down.
Image via Shutterstock.