About two weeks ago, The Guardian posted a piece about gender and food—did you read it? It uses a couple of English advertising campaigns to illustrate how the food industry, and more to the point, food advertising, works to create gendered product identities (presumably to its advantage).
The post, written by Eva Wiseman, discusses how eaters make unconscious choices based on gender identification. You know the drill. Man, steak. Woman, chocolate. Wiseman concludes, "Men don't eat steak because they are men, men eat steak to show they are men."
At this point, most of us agree that presumptions like these can be insulting and incorrect. It was no surprise that the comments were flooded with men claiming they loved chocolate, women declaring their affection for steak or their disdain for chocolate, vegetarian men maintaining their masculinity, carnivorous men suggesting their desire for meat is based purely on taste etc. Because the paradigm is wrong, it misrepresents a huge number of complicated, multi-faceted people who choose, and don't choose, lots of foods, for an infinite number of reasons. Still, it persists.
Talking about gender and food is important—and tricky. I was reminded of an event I helped plan last year, after I noticed a couple of writers claiming they could actually taste whether food was made by a woman or a man. Turned out, a lot of people thought they could taste the difference. I found it beyond absurd. Irritating. Impossible! Also, dangerous: If women in fact cooked differently, the value of their work in the professional kitchen would be somehow different from a man's.