He Ate, She Ate

By Yabroff, Jennie | Newsweek, April 19, 2010 | Go to article overview
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He Ate, She Ate

Yabroff, Jennie, Newsweek

Byline: Jennie Yabroff

Women connect food to their hearts. For men, it's a different organ.

Kate Moses grew up with a glamorous, self-dramatizing mother who instructed her children to refer to her as the babysitter. Starved for maternal affection, Moses turned to cake--first eating it, then baking it. "I looked for sweetness wherever I could find it," Moses writes in Cakewalk, her new recipe-studded memoir. Cakewalk is a lovely book, just as the newly released Spoon Fed by Kim Severson is a lovely book, just as the three food memoirs by former Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl are lovely books. Not a lovely book? Cook to Bang: The Lay Cook's Guide to Getting Laid, also out this month, by Spencer Walker.

Admittedly, the last entry barely qualifies as food writing. But looking at this list, you might draw the depressingly gender-stereotypical conclusion that women write about food as a substitute for love, while men write about food as a way to brag about sex. (We don't have to take Walker's word for it: according to celebrity chef Mario Batali, "There's two ways to make someone happy--both are by putting something in them.")

It seems every month brings a new crop of food memoirs, the majority of them by women. Almost inevitably, the story is about how food helped them reconnect with their family, get over a broken heart, find a sense of self. In the beginning I was sad, then I made brisket, and now I'm content.

When men write food memoirs, they have no time for cuddling over the creme brulee. They're too busy throwing pots at their garde-manger, insulting customers, and sexually harassing any female who makes the mistake of walking into their kitchen. The ur-text for this sort of swaggering, cooking-is-hell memoir is Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential.

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