The question that arises in most bride viewing ceremonies is if the bride knows cooking. We Indians expect the newly wedded wife to know cooking, or automatically be ready to learn cooking from her mother-in-law upon marriage. The points given for a bride will increase according to her experience and knowledge in cooking. Mostly the question a newly married bride gets asked even by her peers is ‘did you learn cooking’. However, nobody expects a newly wedded groom or their son to know cooking before or even after the marriage.
Cooking is a basic living knowledge and any adult irrespective of their gender should know how to sustain themselves by knowing at least the basic skill of cooking. In today’s world, we raise our kids away from the kitchen and food arrives on their plate in the dining room. Most girls are given a crash course in cooking before their marriage. And though some men living alone learn the skill of cooking, many who live with their families never learn cooking.
Cooking is still reserved as the duty of the wife and the daughter-in-law of the house. By this, we are limiting the life skill of cooking to one gender only and we are making women slave away in the kitchen while the men enjoy the food coming to them automatically.
We can see the graveness of this situation in the Malayalam movie ‘The Great Indian Kitchen’ and the Hindi short film ‘Juice’. In both of these, we see the women working in difficult conditions inside the kitchen while the men enjoy and relax outside. These both are very valid pieces of work in the situation where the work in the kitchen is still distributed very unevenly to the women only.
The ideal situation would be for a couple to share the responsibilities of the kitchen and household. Families should teach their kids, both boys and girls the basic skills of cooking from an early age itself. It is as important to learn basic life skills as learning the subjects taught in school. But many kids in our generation, especially boys grow up without learning the basic way to sustain themselves. This needs to change. If you do not want to teach your young kid cooking, at least give your marriageable son the crash course in cooking like you give your daughter.
Cooking in a household should be done by all family members helping each other. Or if one member of the family loves cooking the cooking duty can go to him or her, while the others help around in other household chores. We should not expect the daughters-in-law to know cooking or be interested in cooking by default. They can choose not to cook if they don’t want to. Or be considerably helped by her husband and other family members.
Today the stigma around men cooking has considerably reduced. Many men have taken up the passion for cooking and in many households, they started voluntarily helping but this is still not welcomed in their family. If the whole family starts accepting equally in all terms with an open mind, we can have the hope for a better situation.