Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Cooking

From: Schooley (
Date: 29 Jul 2001

Kevin Burton Smith wrote:

> Well, not everyone. I think it's more a point of emphasis. In the
> earlier books, it was just something Spenser did, among many other
> things. But the food and drink stuff has certainly become more
> prominent in later books, as Spenser becomes more domesticated (which
> isn't necessarily the same as going soft).

Not sure I buy that, particularly the "earlier books" part. I seem to recall that cooking (more than flipping an egg- Spenser had kitchen skills) was presented as something that set Spenser apart from previous hardboil dicks. I thought Parker was making a point- that cooking was not a reflection on manliness. And while eating well at home may initially have been manly competence for Spenser, cooking for two, is a social skill. I also seem to recall that the entire Silverman relationship developed at least partiallly because Silverman was impressed by the fact that Spenser could cook, and well. She thought there was more too the guy after tasting his linguine. And Spenser's relationship with women is what initially set him apart from previous hardboiled types, who could be downright misogynistic, no?

Kevin continued:
    While there's nothing inherently feminine about cooking, there is
    something vaguely embarrassing about guys who seem to think not being
    able to handle themselves in the kitchen is some kind of point of
    macho honour, or that being able to cook is a mark against one's
    toughness or masculinity.

Ironically, the world of professional cooking is very macho. Consider the low percentage of TV cooking shows featuring women chefs. The harrasment and limitations to advancement that have declined in many other workplaces often continue for women in large, competitive kitchens. Women who persevere are subtly but frequently directed toward the pastry department, which may be why some people think of baking as a feminine skill- or maybe it's the other way round. Women even get short shrift in short order. I'm sure there are exceptions, and it may be different in some other cultures, but walk into any North American restaurant and usually the guy in charge is a guy in charge.

If we're into cracking hardboiled stereotypes, how about hairstyling? Anybody know of a hardboil dick who impressed with their ability to twist a mean curl
(as opposed to the other way round)?


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