Monday, November 20, 2006

Cookbooks and Communism

I'm reading Jessamyn Neuhaus' entertaining history of gender and cookbooks, Manly Meals and Mom's Home Cooking: Cookbooks and Gender in Modern America. Included was a long quote from Mary Borden's 1933 book, The Technique of Marriage. After reading this quote, I am definitely going to try find a copy of Borden's book. Here's the quote:

“The modern woman must choose (she seems to have chosen already), but let her choose with her eyes open. Quick-lunch counters, cafeterias, and drug stores are multiplying like weeds, and they are phases of the new communal American state. If the women of America accept them and abandon their kitchens in favor of them, the rest will follow, and with it, eventually, the whole of our individualistic system. Is there an oven in any house in any state of the forty-nine [sic] that bakes bread for a family? Is there a wife or mother of Anglo-Saxon stock anywhere between the Pacific and Atlantic seaboard who knows how to knead the dough and takes time to make the bread? If there is, the young women of New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo, and San Francisco don’t know of her existence.

No one will have kitchens, all the cooking will be done in communal kitchens, and all the communal food you eat will be eaten very much as now in communal dining rooms. You will never have to order a meal or wonder what on earth to have for dinner by way of a change. You won't even have to pay for it. You and your husband will sally out three times a day with food tickets and sit in the communal dining hall of your district and be fed. I say you and your husband, but I should correct that and say, you and your comrade of the moment; for you will not be married in any sense worth considering; since the family as a social unit will be long since abandoned."

I love how women are solely responsible for keeping Americans free. If women just cook at home, the family is saved. Without home cooking, we will all go like robots to the community kitchens and engage in free love or something. This "analysis" ignores that all these establishments people are buying food at are part of capitalist America. But hey, when you're throwing communism around, sensible use of evidence flies out the window!

Actually, this doesn't seem all that bad. I don't have to pay for food. Other people cook for me. I get to eat around lots of other people. Is beer included?