Aggressively Cooking Meat with Science: Father’s Day vs. Mother’s Day 2013

It’s that time again~

Pinterest (email)
Pinterest’s suggested Father’s Day pins (email). Subtle we are not.

Last year, I wrote about how and what food is marketed for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. 2012 “taught” us that quiche is girly but can man up; moms want family-friendly brunches; dads want beer, meat, and fire; and bullshit gender politics are alive and well in the world of big-name food-and-recipe magazines. Fire up the grill, grab your rolling pin, and let’s get cooking.


Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is framed as a day of indulgence, with a focus on brunch, kids, and “family friendliness.” Of course focusing on children and “family friendly” foods and activities makes sense in the context of celebrating parents, but the narrative about kids in relation to food is absent in Father’s Day guides (see below). This reinforces the idea of mother as primary caretaker.

Epicurious Mother's Day detail 1

If you scroll through the images at the top of the Mother’s Day feature, you’ll notice they are all about dessert or sweets for brunch. As for the recipes, it’s much of the same, with key words like indulgent, fancy, family, and kids.

Epicurious Mother's Day detail 2

Father’s Day

While Epicurious (and others) focus on including the kids in Mother’s Day activities. focuses on “DIY dads” who want to make their own soda and beer and want to catch and cook their own meat. No help required from the kids; Dad’s got to prove himself!


Also, note the “dad-approved recipes”:


Let me paraphrase that for you: MEAT MEAT MEAT veg MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT. No talk of “indulgent” or “child-friendly”; in fact, the only adjective is grilled.

The stories about fathers focus on top chef fathers, whereas the mother’s day spread focused on home cooking; dads do food science (beer, soda) while moms do activities with the children, presumably while the men are failing at giving mom the day off. Reinforcing gender norms regarding foodwork: check.

Drinks: BBQ beers, “man drinks” (stop. please.), and beer cocktails. No mention of “mocktails” or “family-friendly” drinks, never mind the champagne and wine.

Funny how the focus shifts from stereotypically “feminine” foods and inclusion of children to all meat, all the time (no vegetarian dads?) and no mention of kids, presumably the reason for the celebration, in the food prep/activities.

Rating: Not Even Trying

Food & Wine

Food & Wine tries to talk sense into omnivore Mother’s Day celebrators.


Did the magazine deliver? Here it may be easier to spot the differences by comparing the father as agent and the mother as consumer.

Father’s Day 

“Terrific Father’s Day gift picks, from incredible wines and exceptional spirits to a brew-it-yourself craft beer kit and the latest in fish-finding technology.” Dad’s a foodie like Mom, but also a techie; an active party, a doer.

Cooking as scientific and cool. Image from Food & Wine.
Cooking as scientific and cool. Image from Food & Wine.

The Father’s Day gifts (screenshot) are categorized as Gifts For the Griller, the Gastronaut, the Fisherman, Beer Enthusiast, Mixologist,  Oenophile (wine), Spirits-Lover, Edible Gifts, Modern Kitchen, and for the Adventurous Cook. The final section is for grilling recipes. Remember, men need to cook and eat “aggressively, with science.”

Mother’s Day

“Wonderful gift ideas for foodie moms, from kitchen tools and stylish tableware to exceptional wines and handmade treats.” Here the focus is on mom as the consumer and home cook as well as connoisseur.

Gardening is not dainty work, Food & Wine.
Gardening is not dainty work, Food & Wine.

The Mother’s Day gifts (screenshot) are categorized as Colorful Kitchen Wear, Home-Cook Must Haves, Kitchen Gadgets, High-Style Tableware, Edible Gifts, Exceptional Wines, Chic Gardening Gear; “More Mother’s Day Gift Ideas” are Stylish Splurges and Steals, Gorgeous Cookbooks, and Gifts for the Hostess. The final section is for brunch ideas.

This may be a matter of different writers, but the Mother’s Day sections are written as descriptions of the items, while the Father’s Day gifts are descriptions of the intended user. Fathers get to be “gastronauts” and “mixologists”; mothers get to be home cooks and gardeners in so much as they are users of “gardening gear.”

Ah, the drudgery of food-work and homecare in heteronormative married life. From the sadly defunct

Also, the Father’s Day guide includes a very comprehensive list of alcohols; Mother’s Day contains only wine. I’m never sure if this is just marketing based on perceived ideas about “gender-appropriate” drinks or if it’s due to the stigma against mothers’ consumption of alcohol. (And I don’t mean breast-feeding mothers or pregnant women even, I mean all mothers.)

The Kitchen Gadgets, which includes a carbonator, is a slightly brighter point in a sea of tired old gendered gifts, but the emphasis on style, gendered yard-work activities (grilling for men, gardening for women), and general emphasis on passive consumption and home cooking for mothers vs. activity, creation, and science for fathers just shows that the tweet was perhaps a false positive for progress. This is just another example of making something “feminine” like home cooking seem “worthy” of a man by adding science, jargon, and expertise to market it as cool and hip, whereas in its (un)natural habitat, it needs to seem folksy and down-to-earth, possibly “stylish.”

Rating: Lip Service Paid

Happy belated parental days to the readers with children, and remember to teach your children that quiche is not the enemy.

Have any interesting articles or screen shots regarding gendering food? Send them my way!


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