Call Of the WinterChef
(Full disclosure: I’m not a “foodie”. I’ve grown up watching the women in my life seriously struggle with what and how much they ate. I resent the culture in which women are taught to police other womens’ eating, as well as their own. The only discussion I’ve allowed others to have with me concerning food lately is: “Does what I’m eating taste good?” Anything beyond that will be met with an eyeroll.)
I’ll never understand the obsession with food. You procure it, you consume it, you expel it as waste products. Repeat ad nauseum. Yet, everyone has an opinion about it. We all have to eat, the saying goes – and we all have complicated relationships with that which we need to nourish us.
Just as the United States has seen a huge increase in cooking and food themed shows in the past 5 years, so has the metal world. There are two metal themed recipe books published, various online metal cooking shows, and metal themed restaurants popping up in major cities. What the hell is going on here?
I had a laugh at the theatrics of the Black Metal Cookies troupe and Metal Chef with Kragoth the Barbarian. Their take on the subject was pretty transparent – a winking acknowledgement that cooking is made much more entertaining when you slap on some corpsepaint, exaggerate your movements, and crack some jokes that border between corny and clever. It’s also worth noting that the food is not the focus of these shows. It’s a vehicle for humorous parody – merely by virtue of juxtaposing metal’s brutality and theatrics with what can be considered inane domesticity.
The other shows don’t resonate with me. I spend all my time trying to avoid thinking about preparing food (there are very few dishes I actually enjoy making), and here they are, agonizing over whether the bacon is done, or whether a recipe is feasible. Why, oh why are you making this a serious attempt to teach me to create an entree? Fuck it, I’ll just make some Ramen and be done with it!
Food is inherently gendered and political. There’s no getting around the fact that women are encouraged by modern socialization to consume less food, or if you MUST consume food, to feel guilty for doing so. Women are held responsible for and judged on their ability to maintain a household – which involves a certain amount of food prep. In this context, food production is devalued work that women are just expected to perform. Men dominate the food-as-swanky-occupation realm. When they cook or serve food, the work takes on a new sophistication.
So, if women are unpaid drudge cooks and men get celebrity and status for food prep, would metal cooking culture look the same if it were female metalheads at work to create the most brutal dishes? Would it be seen as parody, or as too close to our own household arrangements? I still have yet to hear, “Get back in the kitchen, ya feminist metalhead!” but that could be because I’m a formidable force with weapons found outside the hearth-room.
I can say one good thing about food, though – it gives people a reason to stay in the same room. Food is very social, and can be the building block on which we create community. Is that why metalheads have a renewed passion for consumables? Our traditional place to hang out together is metal shows, and those can be loud chaotic affairs where we only get to know each other if we can shout loudly enough between sets.
I have hosted and attended a few parties where my friends and I listened to some good music and ate some edible food and had a good time. The good times might have been aided by the booze… I digress.
Why do people make these shows, books, and restaurants? Weigh in, because I’m kind of baffled here. And hungry. I think the Ramen is done.
\m/ – Ms. Anthropia