When I was in college, I found an old cookbook in the kitchen at my dorm. I flipped it open to a chapter called “Meat: A man’s job.” I laughed, because cooking is sexual and because there was a faded, 60s-style photograph of a ham covered in pineapple rings. Thanks to my friends who were taking women’s studies courses, I had an elementary understanding of the relationship between sexism and classicism. But I hadn’t really experienced it first hand–or so I thought.
In case you are wondering exactly what in the hell I am talking about, here are the Cliff notes: Meat is expensive, ergo special, ergo it should only be touched by the superior sex: Men. In other words, things worth more value should be managed by men only. And this was the gospel truth of my childhood when it came to meat.
My mom prepped and cooked any meat that was in small chunks or was being added to other dishes. She also cooked the inferior meats, like chicken legs or ground beef. She did all of the other cooking, too, which was pretty hardcore. She made her own pies from scratch and baked her own bread. We never got to eat any of it. Just kidding. We ate it all! And it was delicious. If Whole Foods ever goes bankrupt, I plan to be just like her.
But if there was anything resembling a whole animal, a fish, for example, or a turkey, this was to be cooked or carved by my father. And if the meat was being prepared in the great outdoors, the wilds of our backyard, then my father would handle it from door to door.
All of this struck me as relatively unremarkable, until I grew up and turned out to be a lesbian. Now we had a problem. Who would prepare the meat?
“We should BBQ something,” I say to my spouse.
“Like what?” she says.
“I don’t know. Hamburgers?”
“Do you know how to cook those?”
“I think so. How hard can it be? They are just little patties of meat. I could buy them already formed at the deli.”
We are both unenthusiastic grillers, but our kids love hamburgers. And now that it’s officially summer, I feel a sense of social obligation to fire up the grill and put some meat on it. I also feel like I should get better at this, because: America.
So I went to the store and picked out three “Cowboy Burgers” from the deli counter. We have had these before. They are deliciously stuffed with cheese, jalapeños and onions, and they are the size of my face. I returned home and had a look at the grill. The green cover was filthy and the gas tank was unhooked. If I touched either of those things I was going to get dirty. I hate getting my hands dirty, literally, and I had just put on a clean shirt. So hail no.
I went inside and found our cast iron grill that goes on the stove. And I successfully burned my hand while grilling two of the burgers. Only two of them fit on the grill. They are that big. Then, we each ate half of one giving nothing but a small bite to one of the kids, which made her cry when the jalapeño burned her mouth. I put the third patty in the freezer and tried to forget about the whole thing.
Every season has its meat. There are turkeys in the fall and roast beef in the winter and hamburgers in the summer, of course. I’m not so sure about the spring. It’s fish, I guess, especially if you’re Catholic. And we have given up on most of them. We have tried twice to cook a turkey and failed. Both times the turkey was a bit raw in the middle. And by the way, I can read, I have quite a few nice cookbooks that I use sometimes when Whole Foods is closed, and I have a meat thermometer. And last year, we bought a turkey from (wait for it…. ) Whole Foods for Thanksgiving. We still have some in the freezer and it’s almost July.
So I’m throwing my hands up. We can’t cook meat. I can barely carve it. And we really do like Mexican food better, anyway. So if you’re wondering who carves the meat in this lesbian family, it’s no one. Only a man can be a butcher as it turns out. No man equals no meat.
And this explains why everyone thinks that lesbians are vegetarians.
Sarah Ann Gilbert
Sarah writes with sarcasm about science, gender, feminism and fertility issues on her blog sevenlittlemexicans.com. When she’s not dreaming about being a “real writer,” she works with 50 psychologists at her “real job.” Sarah lives in Denver with her soon-to-be-wife, two girls and an ungrateful dog. She is working on memoir about becoming a parent. If she had more free time, she would spend it lobbying the state government to make down vests and flip-flops the official uniform of Colorado. You can talk to her on Twitter @7littlemexicans.