Cooking is for Everyone - Teaching Boys How to Cook!

This Thanksgiving I taught my 10-year-old grandson, Matthew, how to make homemade mac-n-cheese. Why? Because cooking is for everyone. And... because he wanted to learn how. And because I plan on cooking a WHOLE lot less, especially during the holidays. Or… I will just cook more of the foods that I want. 

Feeling like the Thanksgiving cooking tradition is about to make a serious SHIFT in my family, I told my sons/grandsons that they needed to learn how to cook the foods that they usually like me to cook for them, ‘cause guess who AIN’T go’n be doin’ all’uh that cookin’ any more Honey Chile?

Uh huh... you guessed right. Me. 🙋🏽‍♀️

Now, I can make delicious mac-n-cheese (amongst other dishes) but I barely like eating it. I cook it for them. My family. And I may still do so from time to time in the future “if the Lord will, God spare and nothin’ don’t happen” (as my Aunt ‘Rene and Mama used to say)… or, I might not.

However, I want the men in my family to know that, it’s is not up to the women in heterosexual relationships to always cook for their men and families. 

That idea is patriarchy at it’s finest Chile. 

Yet, there’s nothing wrong with women wanting to cook for their families. And many families of single-women parents have HAD to cook for their families. So have single fathers but that doesn’t get discussed as much. 

For decades I loved to cook. First for myself. Then for my loved ones. I was good at it and loved doing things to please people and for approval. (Are y’all catchin’ these past tense references?)

I started learning how to cook at age 5, standing in a chair next to the stove, I boiled hot dogs. By age 7, I could make the best eggs and oven-broiled toast and we didn’t have no toaster ovens or microwaves Chile. At age 9, I was cooking entire meals... frying chicken & pork chops, french fries, cooking rice (not minute rice neither) with green beans or corn. And by ten, I was helping Mama do everything for Thanksgiving dinner. 

Even though women have typically done the cooking in my family, my mother also taught my brother how to cook. And clean.

Now don’t get me wrong, men in our family KNOW how to cook. My dad & uncle knew how to cook. Plus they did all of the grilling. My husband knows how to cook and he grills. My sons? Well, they can cook but my oldest son doesn’t like to cook very much. But guess who kind’uh made the dressing this year? Alvin Jr. Although I cooked the turkey necks and Aléa made the cornbread, he did the rest. (I’ll post those videos on instagram later.)

However, my brother, Rodney, is a bachelor and has been cooking since he was young. My play brother, Perry, is a fabulous cook and cooks a lot for his family. In fact, he taught me how to whip eggs when we were 8 years old (the details of that story will be in my ‘Who’s Watchin’ Me-Season Two’ book. Season One will be released any day now!)

Cooking should be for everyone. That said, my daughter, Aléa Lorén, who is our oldest child, has known how to cook since she was very young. She’s even cooked the entire meal for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Partly because she wanted to learn and partly because we bought her up with dominant culture’s ideas that cooking was primarily for women. I’d sometimes make my sons learn how to cook something but it was more of an option. 

Some of y’all might remember back-in-the-day, when in school, girls had to take home-economic classes while the boys got to have wood shop and later, automotives. That was usually in middle school and by then I had to cook for-real for-real. I didn’t need those little simple and corny recipes.

Cooking was a life-skill and hobby for me. I REALLY wanted to create things in shop but instead had to take up sewing.

Eventually boys and girls got to crossover into shop & home-ec classes but not without lots of teasing. Girls were called tomboys and boys were called sissy’s. 

Such ridiculousness. 

Yet, this Thanksgiving my daughter still cooked the chickens, cornbread and the greens while I cooked (far less this year) turkey necks, green beans and potatoes and sweet potato pies. Still, we are making progress.

From now on, I want the boys/men in my family (and boys/men everywhere) to know that cooking is for everyone AND that they (boys/men) can handle multiple roles/jobs like most women do (like holding down a job, raising children, and like Madea would say, “clean-ting”) and for the purpose of this article, COOKING, like many women (and some men) have often had to take on.