Recently, I was lucky enough to get a hold of a copy of Missy Chase Lapine’s new cookbook,The Sneaky Chef: How to Cheat on Your Man (In The Kitchen): Hiding Healthy Foods in Hearty Meals Any Guy Will Love. The book is a guide for women to sneak yucky health foods onto their man’s plate, because men can’t stay healthy unless a conniving woman tricks them into it. (Want that Vulcan Molten Chocolate Cake, Man? Prepare to stomach a few cups of pureed baby spinach leaves. Gross!) Kathleen Ryan O’Connor of The Journal News says the book “appears to have struck a cultural and medical chord.” Chef Daniel Bouloud calls it “A brilliant and timely concept.” An excerpt:
There is a distinctly masculine quality to chewing or gnawing on foods like meat, which accounts for the fact that when you ask most men where they want to go for dinner, they answer “a steak house.” They also like to crunch, as on potato chips or hard pretzles. Alfalfa sprouts and yogurt just won’t do.
A woman, on the other hand, might have just this for lunch. She tends to choose more delicate foods, which men typically call “chick foods.” That is: The proverbial quiche*, salads, broccoli florets, and cottage cheese.
Throughout the book, Lapine regards men as dumb, lazy health hazards. To Lapine, men are like children—-and they should be treated as such. As for the woman, her role is to care for these man-boys; by cooking “sneakily” and “cheating” on “your man” in the kitchen, women are able to imagine a sort of transgressive power over males while still staying faithful to the marriages that require them to perform all the cooking, care-giving, and whatever other bullshit wives are supposed to do. But the book is not sexist, writes Lapine:
You might wonder why I’m addressing this whole book to women. Early in the process of writing this book, someone accused me of being sexist for just that reason. It was a man, and he thought I should direct the book to either spouse who wants to cook healthier for the other. Why would I assume that the wife is cooking for the man or that creating a healthy diet falls only on her shoulders? … How I wish he were right. But traditionally, and still today, women are usually the caregivers of the family.
In the book’s introduction, Lapine tells the stories of several women stuck in relationships with men who hate eating right. Instead of turning to Lapine’s book, they should probably just listen to me. No sneaking necessary, promise! Let’s take a look.
Sharon: “My husband, Jeff, once read that alcohol dissolves fat. Therefore, he believes that so long as he is drinking red wine with his meal, he can eat whatever he wants. He has gone on to classify virtually all alcohol as “healthy,” based on the “garnish principle”: a martini is a “healthy drink because it has an olive or onion in it, and a pina colada is good for you because it’s served with a slice of pineabble. Of course, any drink that uses cranberry juice as a mixer improves your health on contact. When I pressed him on eating his vegetables the other day, he retorted, ‘Why would I have to? I’m having a Bloody Mary, which is every bit a member of the salad family.”
No-Fuss Solution: Sharon’s husband is an alcoholic. She should probably leave him.
Stacey: “My husband insists that none of the foods on his plate can touch one another. The only ‘vegetables’ he eats are French fries and ketchup, and he is quite sure that satisfies the government’s minimum requirement. He’s actually making our two small children pickier eaters than they were before!”
No-Fuss Solution:Stacey’s husband is obsessive compulsive. His behavior is beginning to affect the health of their children. She should probably leave him.
Kathy: “My boyfriend predominantly eats from two food groups: sugar and lard, and he sincerely believes that popcorn is a vegetable. The worst part is, he’s thin, so he thinks he can get away with it. He’s still in his early thirties, so he can keep up the illusion for another ten years or so, but I’m nervous about the future with him.”
No-Fuss Solution: Kathy should mind her own business. Her boyfriend should probably leave her before another ten years pass and Kathy starts getting really nosy.
* I have no idea what this means.
Photo by altemark.