If someone asks me out of the blue, “Will you share your kitchen with me?” My immediate answer would be, “No.” But, sharing a kitchen is a broad concept: you could be sharing the space while cooking simultaneously; one person could be doing the dishes while the other might be chopping vegetables; or, two people may share the space at different times. Based on these, I could change my answer, depending on the situation.
A cousin, Mr. K, and I have touched upon this topic on different occasions and he has always strongly opined that a woman cannot share her kitchen, especially with another woman. A few weeks ago, he suggested this as a topic for my blog and since then I have been pondering over it. Isn’t there a saying, “Too many cooks spoil the broth” and what not? Maybe it was written with women in mind :-D.
Personally, I don’t think I’ll be able to cook simultaneously with another person. This feeling is not person-specific or gender-specific; I simply don’t like to share that space when I am in the process of cooking. This feeling may have stemmed from a teenager who thought herself capable of cooking alone but today, it has boiled down to my personal style of cooking and how it can be very different from someone who may want to cook by my side. Way back, when I started cooking, my first condition was that my mother shouldn’t be in the kitchen when I was there. Even though I would scream out to her when ever I had a doubt or couldn’t find something, I still I wouldn’t let her come in. It is still pretty much like that… not the screaming, but the wanting the kitchen to myself part. My kitchen, my music, my cooking… in my head, that’s the perfect combination even for preparing the simplest of foods.
Before I sat down to write today, I asked some of my friends for their opinion on whether women can share their kitchens. My favorite response was Ms. U’s, who said, “For me it is yes 😄, but it depends on whom I am sharing it with. I can share with anyone who doesn’t control what I do in there.” One friend said she was okay to share if she had a big kitchen and another said it depended on how comfortable she was with the other person. Of course, I also asked my personal blog consultant, Ms. G and she bluntly said “No.” I asked if she cared to elaborate and she continued, “Why do you think there are more male professional chefs in the world than women? If two women were to co-cook in a kitchen, I envision there will be more bickering and bantering than actual cooking.” This may be a sexist comment and a generalization of sorts, but think about it… maybe there is a truth lying somewhere in it.
Like I said earlier, sharing is a broad term and can be subjective to the specific person or situation. For instance, whenever my mother-in-law visits, she helps out with the chopping of vegetables. Initially, she used to offer to roll out chapathis/pooris, but I would politely decline. This was simply because I was already used to doing it alone, and having someone else do the rolling would only reduce my speed. On occasions when she wants to cook some of her specialties, I clear out from the kitchen, except to help her gather ingredients, use the blender etc. And let me make it clear, that is is not a saas-bahu (mother-in-law – daughter-in-law) thing, the situation is exactly the same when my mother visits too. When she was here a couple of years back, we picked our meals to cook and I don’t think we have ever cooked a meal together, until now.
Then you may ask what I do when friends visit or when I visit them. Probably because they harbor the same feelings as me, I have never had friends take over my kitchen and neither have I done it to them. When in another person’s kitchen, I always remember to tread cautiously. But when we meet up with local friends for a meal, we do end up sharing chores, which works well because it happens only once in a while. Do you think you can handle it if it becomes a daily affair?
Mr. K came to his conclusion about women and their kitchens after observing many women in his family and otherwise. According to him, his wife can’t even stand to share the kitchen space with him, let alone people from outside and how his mother refused to cook whenever she visited him, just because she felt as though she would be trespassing in her daughter-in-law’s kitchen. So, does his observation apply to women in general or only to a select few like his wife, Ms. G and I? Do share your opinions.