Over the holidays, I followed tradition and visited family. It's the easiest and best way, after all, to ensure that I get all the gifts that I have coming to me. But a not inconsequential side-effect of this is that I get to see many of my relatives that I otherwise ignore for the rest of the year. Amongst these are my various cousins and -pertinent to this post- their own younger brood.
I mention all this because this is one of the few chances I have to interact with the younger generation; by and large, I rarely have much to do with the under-twenty set. The holidays are that one occassion I get to learn from kids what it's like to grow up in the 21st century. And the question I asked this time was, "Do you cook?"
See, when I was growing up, boys didn't cook. That was "girlie" stuff; Mom cooked; Grandma cooked, the Aunts cooked... but the boys tended to avoid that stuff. This attitude was starting to change during my youth, but slowly. So I was naturally curious whether -given how much family life has shift in other areas- there had been a radical shift regarding food preparation since my younger days.
Well, one piece of data aren't any sort of proof regarding a larger trend, but if my younger cousins are any indication, then the answer is a definitive "no". Cooking is still, for all intents and purposes, for girls.
Wrong answer, boys! Here's why every boy should learn to cook
Eat what you like: Forget that it's a useful life-skill. Forget that it promotes independence. Reason number one that you should learn to cook? Because otherwise Mom is going to make liver and onions and then expect you to eat it. But if you can cook, you get to chose what the meal is. And trust me; if you're doing all the work getting the dish onto the table, Mom isn't going to quibble too much about the content.
Knives and fire: Two things you usually aren't allowed to play with -knives and fire- suddenly become acceptable tools for you to work with when applied to the culinary arts. Chopping meat with tempered steel is every bit as much fun as you might imagine.
Make a mess Who doesn't like to make a mess? Normally, though, the fun of gratuitous spillage is tempered by the work it takes to clean up. But share whatever you are cooking and people tend to reciprocate by offering to clean up your dirty pans and dishes (note: unless they're your friends or siblings; never depend on them to clean up after you. Parents or other adults are fair game, though). It usually doesn't take much more effort to cook for two than it does for one, so make yourself some food, share the extra and get the unlucky recipient to clean up after you.
Junior chemistry Cooking is nothing more than applied chemistry, and learning to cook is a useful step towards learning the "real thing". And why should you care about chemistry? Because you can do all sorts of interesting things with chemistry that will appeal to boys -from Gluep to stink bombs to (once you get older, and if you have a decent AP Chemistry teacher) gunpowder.
Girls dig it Okay, when you're just a young boy this probably doesn't count for much, but as you get older this benefit starts to become more and more important. Girls love a guy that can cook anything more complicated than a grilled cheese sandwich. Women jest about how the quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but I'm not convinced the opposite sex is any different; make them a meal and you're a "keeper".
So, there you have it boys; sex, food, and the option to play with weapons of mass destruction. Sure a few Neanderthal throwbacks might claim otherwise, but as far as I'm concerned, there's no reason not to learn to cook. Open those cookbooks, fire up those burners, and start cooking!