Gastrosexual by birth

There was an interesting article on what the Times of India termed as gastrosexuals yesterday. I don't know if 'gastro' and 'sexual' go together but I guess it sounds catchy and newsworthy. The piece was on men who cook - a smattering of celebs who cook, men joining cooking classes and so on.

One opinion voiced in the article was that men cook by rules, follow recipes to the step... wouldn't know that you can dilute coconut milk powder in water if there is no coconut milk and so on. The argument stated that women are more instinctive when it comes to cooking.

Come again? I think that is a sweeping generalisation. I hate following elaborate recipes. Most of the stuff I cook up are by instinct, visualisation and a sense of balance of spices. And I know that I am not the only one.

I can think of at least two cases to the contrary. We had once gone to a friend's house who while sipping beer concocted a wonderful dish with chicken, coconut milk, mustard oil and pepper corns. Since then he has got married and has inspired his Gujarati wife to take up Bengali cooking. That's inspired! The other occasion was more recent where we had visited another friend who put some bottled sauces together with cheese and whipped up quite a nice pasta. Again, his own recipe.

And when they came over on Friday I added basil and Italian herbs to paneer to come up with quite a different tasting paneer dish. And converted my kosha mutton recipe to kosha chicken as we are a bunch of thirty somethings who aren't allowed red meat. And, no, I did not get the mutton recipe from anywhere. Just had in mind how fish kaalia is made... then quadrupled the amount of onion and garam masala... cut turmeric to the minimum, kept the rest the same and hardly added any water.

So there you are... three men who follow their instincts in the kitchen. I rest my case.

What is your experience? Do men who cook go by the book? Or do they go by their gut?


Ire said…
Interesting read! I think I read the article too.

I appreciate men who can cook.
Magical Homes said…
yeah. i agree with you. hubby follows his instincts in the kitchen too....the few times he cooks that is :)

BTW, i tried the chicken roll at hangla's at andheri. nice.
methink it's generalization. i guess if one is cooking for fun or for self for family one tends to experiment more and use ones instinct. the only time I think anyone would follow a recipe to a T would be in restuarants having signature dishes where they have to maintain the authenticity and consistency of every dish.
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Nikki... thanks for dropping in. So I guess the lesson for young boys starting off in their lives is dropped the dumbells and pick up the ladles
@Mumbai Diva ... so what does he cook up? Glad you liked the rolls. The few times my wife entered the kitchen was with a cook book in her hand and a prayer in my heart
@Just call me A...I guess recipes work for first timers and if you want to make a specific dish AND, like you said, in a specific way. For example I can make Bong chicken currues but they don't taste like my grandmom's
Kalyan Karmakar said…
I guess I am too lazy for recipes and don't like following directions
Sharmila said…
I think they cook with love ... coz cooking is one thing that won't have good results until you really want to do it. Going into the kitchen just once means nothing ... but if you are going there a lot ... and loving it, then that says it all. Men can cook. My mejo mama, inspite of being the president of an international comp. always finds the time to cook at home and also at informal parties. At my home, my hubby dishes out the best dal. :-) So who cares about what articles say? :-)
Abhishek said…
I guess you are right. I read that article too and dint quite agree to all of it. It might be true to an extent that men want their food to be done quickly but they do go by their instincts a lot. When I cook, I like to go by my instincts and most of the times the food comes out good this way rather than following a recipe all the way.
Scarlett said…
From watching dad cook, I would say men go by instincts. Dad cooks rarely & select dishes but when he does, he makes them better than mom! And he never refers to any recipe!
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Sharmila... 'love of cooking' is the most important. Then it doesn't matter if one looks at the recipe or not. It should not be a chore.

My dad was quite into cooking and I have heard stories of his regularly cooking including Bong food on my onnoprashon for the Brits. I think I have inherited a bit of that.

What daal does your hubby cook? I know many women who are daal freaks. Better keep an eye on him :)

Abhishek: I find recipes cumbersome. I am always looking out for quick and efficient short cuts. This was especially important when we were cooking regularly after work for quite a few years. I am sure that your instinct leads to great dishes. In fact one can create great dishes simply too

Scarlett: long time :) To be fair to our moms... it is difficult to keep the zest going if it is routine. I think I mentioned it before but my dad taught my mom how to cook. Any luck with 'A' in the kitchen :)
Scarlett said…
I love my mom to bits but she's a bit funny when it comes to cooking. If a particular ingredient required for a dish isn't there at home, she won't cook the dish until someone gets it for her. Whereas dads are great at what you call 'jugaad'...or improvisation...and that I think gives them an edge. It's only if you're willing to experiment will you find out if one way of making something is better than the other :)

'A' claims he knows how to cook but I seriously doubt if he does. All he's willingly done in the kitchen is fry bacon & sausages b/c he loves them himself!!
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Scarlett: men who like fried bacon sausages are the best. Let me know if you want me to give him a pep talk the way Joey gave Mike ... he'll get into the kitchen for you after that!

I guess women are more tuned to crossing the t's and dotting the i's
Kirti said…
I would be aghast if the term "Gastrosexual" achieves the same popularity as metrosexual.

As it is men are wearing earrings and hairbands. Won't be long before skirts and lipstick follow.

However, as far as cooking goes, most cooks and chefs are men. In the traditions of yore, hordes of men from Orissa would man the kitchens during the "Biye Bari". A majority of celeb chefs are men. Almost all restaurant kitchens are managed by men.

I agree with the Knife that its boring to follow recipes. It feels like someone has you on a leash. The first part of cooking is fantasizing about the dish - how will it look? How will it tickle the palate? What will the texture be? All these myriad and wonderful thoughts pulsate through your mind and then you are ready to cook and culminate your fantasy into reality.

And, yes, most men cook by instinct
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Good point Kirti. Most celebrity chefs as well as folks in restaurants are men. I wonder if the latter's is because of gender biases in Indian society.

The point you made about cooking is a great one too. Often eating the dish takes ten minutes or less. It is the planning and putting it together where the fun comes from.

Hmmm an interesting analogy comes to mind
Pinku said…

the terms interesting the idea of men cooking by the book is not.

My dad was an awesome cook and yes he did teach mom every single dish since all she knew was how to make tea.

infact have never ever seen a man cook from a book...though have met many who love cooking...
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Hey Pinku, I think it was pretty much the same at our place. My mom used to teach in a college and didn't know how to cook.

I remember listening a story from him, I was less than 9 then!, about he had asked my mom to make khichudi and left for work. He came back to see grains of rice and daal popping in a pan of water.

Gosh, isn't it amazing how things stick in your mind after so many years.

I am a bit of a control freak in the kitchen so haven't taught my wife much. Sometimes I wonder whether where training in psychology has anything to do with this... especially when I see her chilling outside
k said…
i think the article applies more to me than you:)