Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Casting off the burdensome yoke of iceberg lettuce

It seems crazy to me that certain types of foods are considered masculine and others are considered feminine. You’d think that two decades after those “real men don’t eat quiche” shenanigans took place, we’d be over it. But the other day, I was reading an article on “Gossip Girl” in New York Magazine – I feel I should issue a denial over reading that article, but honestly, it just happened and I don’t know why – and it mentioned that one of the female stars of the show was mocked for eating a meal more manly than her date’s. And I thought, “Seriously? Someone really took the time to think about that.” And then I realized I was thinking about that, too, but my thinking about that seemed more post-modern than the reporter’s thinking about that so I think I’m okay. Phew.

Anyway, it seems to me there are more than enough stereotypes that separate men and women already without having to bring food into the mix: Men like sports, women like shopping. Men like to hunt, women like to gather. Men like fast cars, women like to roll cars and set them on fire after championship games...you know, all the usual stuff. So why do we have to draw a gender line between meat and salads?

A few months ago, I went to a business lunch at a nice restaurant. There were several other women at the table. All of them ordered salads. Looking over at the next table, I saw a man tucking into a nice little steak. I sighed and ordered a salad because I knew, from experience, that ordering a t-bone or rack of ribs or anything that required a bib would have earned me looks of disdain and/or horror from my compatriots. Yes, I got peer pressured into leaves. And I hate leaves. I’m convinced that the utter blandness of most leafy greens is what makes koalas look so sad…even if they are high. The only thing that makes salads tasty is the stuff you put on them, which proceeds to make them fattening, which kind of ruins the point. It’s a vicious low-fat vinaigrette circle.

Now I’m not saying that roughage isn’t an important part of any diet. (I bet you didn’t think you’d be reading about roughage on this blog today, did you?) And I’m not saying it’s bad to eat healthy. In fact, it’s good to eat healthy. But just because I’m a woman, I don’t think I should have to pass up eating as many barbecue-slathered spare ribs as I can possibly cram into my delicate lady stomach every now and then. The fear of becoming morbidly obese and having my heart explode should stop me from doing that, of course, but not the fear of breaking societal norms.

Of course, I suppose we could solve this whole thing if someone would invent barbecued salads.


The Modern Gal said...

Hmmmm, back in my hometown of Memphis, we put barbecue on our salads, if that's what you're going for. But they still usually involve leaves.

Camera Obscura said...

There are some BBQ restaurants that will put bits of meat (like rib tips) on a salad. Win-win.

Meredith said...

I think there's definitely still a certain "genderization" when it comes to food. Just look at Burger King commercials, which advertise a big, manly burger for burly construction workers. And McDonald's salad commercials almost universally target women, and if the dude is ordering the salad, he needs reassurance from his girlfriend that he's still a manly man because it has chicken on it or something.

Anonymous said...

Oh everywhere I go for lunch I'm with people eating salad! I hate salads. I like hamburgers, with BACON. And I like pulled pork sandwiches. Oh and ribs. And corned beef hash. and donuts . . . I could go on and on. and no amount of judgement is going to make me eat salads!

I used to have a fancy job where we were at hotels for conventions all the time, and I would skip the stupid salad line and eat little desert cakes and things instead. Everyone made fun of me - but who cares, I was eating tiny cakes!

Anonymous said...

WRT certain foods being more "suited" to one gender v another; discuss with your husband the issues involved in ordering a Belgium waffle from the Denny's menu.
Talk about conflicted!

L-D's D

Anna van Schurman said...

BBQ salads exist nationally. I wouldn't be able to eat roughage without them.
California Pizza Kitchen
Demitri's BBQ
Cheesecake Factory

Liz said...

How could I forget the California Pizza Kitchen's chopped barbecue chicken salad? Thanks for reminding me, everyone, that barbecue can make anything better -- even roughage.

And now I'm hungry. :)