Man Food vs. Girl Food

26 Jun

I haven’t posted in a while.  Between moving, home improvement projects at the new house, and crazy work deadlines for the past two months, I’ve been neglecting this blog.  But as Donna Cooks approaches its one year anniversary, I am definitely back in the swing of things!

To the topic at hand, man food vs. girl food.  An incident at the office incited this train of thought.  As an engineer, I work in an office with mostly men.  In my group, I am the only female.  I never give this fact much though as I am a bit of a tomboy in the sense that I am used to, and enjoy, the exchange of witty banter, teasing, and horseplay that goes on in the group.  I participate in the discussions about sports, beer, and BBQ because I enjoy all of those things (though perhaps not to the extent of fanaticism like others in the group).  I go to lunch with my group frequently, and often, we end up eating man food.

Yes, there is man food, and then there is girl food.  The line is not always clear but the concept exists.  Just like the Volkswagen Beetle is a girl car and the GT Mustang is a guy car (not the V6 convertible, everyone knows that’s a girl car), certain foods also exude gender stereotypes.  Guy foods are the ones you typically associate with sports bars, grilling out, or camping… (hot wings, BBQ, beef jerky, chili).  Girl foods are the ones you associate with tea parties, sugar art, or dieting (quiches, finger sandwiches, petit fours, salads).  But you already know all this.

What we don’t know is what is considered acceptable when you cross these food gender stereotypes.  It’s a silly concept, really.  You should be able to eat whatever you want whenever you want.  It’s a free country.  But do you? 

I was walking back through the office hallways today after picking up lunch at Popeye’s with the rest of the group when the receptionist (female) said, “oh, you all went to Popeye’s!” then turned and said directly and specifically to me (the only girl in the group), “you too?  You went to Popeye’s?!?!” with a tone of utter disbelief. 

“Yes ma’am, I did.”  I didn’t know what else to say.  Should I apologize for breaking a diet that I’m not on?  Should I explain to her that as much as I cook and eat at different restaurants, I believe that Popeye’s has some of the best spicy chicken strips around?  Should I have to explain myself at all?  After all, it’s just lunch.

This isn’t the first time this has happened to me.  A couple of weeks ago, I was scheduled for an all girls’ lunch when one of the guys in my group was notified that he had just passed his Professional Engineer’s exam, thus becoming a professionally licensed engineer (a major accomplishment for a civil engineer).  I wanted to go to lunch with him and the rest of the group to celebrate his achievement.  So I combined the two appointments and invited the girls to lunch with my group, at Buffalo Wild Wings.  Now I don’t have the same opinion about Buffalo Wild Wings as Popeye’s, that is, I don’t think their wings are that spectacular and probably wouldn’t go on my own accord.  But we were out to celebrate that co-worker’s accomplishment and BWW was his restaurant of choice.  Are wings categorized under “man food”?  I guess so because all the girls backed out of lunch and were shocked that I would agree to eat at BWW. 

Should I be self-conscious about liking man food?  I enjoy the search for great smoked ribs, chicken fried steak, or tasty street taco as much as the next person (guy or girl).  Do I now have to eat these culinary guilty pleasures in hiding?

Before this turns into a whining session (because I hate whining), let me just say that I know the stereotype also works the other way around.  Just like the episode of Seinfeld where Jerry orders a salad (just a salad, no entree) at a steak restaurant while on a date and ends up with no callback from the girl, guys also feel bounded by these stereotypes.  I’m sure that many guys hate the fact that they can’t order quiche on a first date without getting some funny looks.  Particularly for the health-conscious guys, avoiding “chick” food in public, especially while hanging out with his buddies, can be quite the challenging feat.

Let’s break down the barriers of these food gender stereotypes, ladies and gentleman.  I, for one, love all food equally.  Give me a plate of well seasoned, pit-smoked ribs or a Chilean bass summer salad, I’ll be happy both ways, just depends on what mood I’m in.  I like exploring street food stands in Mexico but am also intrigued by the art of cake decorating.  It is possible to love things at both ends of the spectrum.  Isn’t it time we can all just sit down and eat what we love, in public?

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2 Responses to “Man Food vs. Girl Food”

  1. Tony 06/26/2007 at 2:18 pm #

    Great to see you’re posting again!

  2. foodczar 09/26/2007 at 11:35 am #

    Yes, Donna, we can indeed eat what we like. My lovely wife the Rock Star loves her some Texas BarBQ AND wings! (OK, she prefers barBQ turkey, and she likes her wings boneless. What’s wrong with that?) A girl that likes to eat Man Food is a REAL woman, in my book at least!!!

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