Why Women Are in Charge of Leftovers

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S1: This is the waves. This is the wave is the wave. This is the way. This is the way. This is the waves. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.

S2: Welcome to the Waves Slate’s podcast about gender, feminism and the odds and ends left over after Thanksgiving is done. Every episode, you get a new pair of women to talk about the thing we can’t get off our minds today. You’ve got me. Rebecca Onion, a staff writer for Slate

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S3: and Me, Tamar Adler, a writer and contributing editor at Vogue magazine.

S2: It’s Thanksgiving, the grandest of Leftovers holidays, and as the media has been telling us for the past couple of weeks, the food for it is more expensive this year than it’s been in previous years. With that in mind, we’d like to talk about the way the odds and ends bits and bobs end up getting reused in American households and how that reuse relates to gender, both during this holiday that we’re celebrating today and beyond. I am obsessed with this question, and I am not super super amazing at reusing like Tamar as she is like a black belt in the practice. I really do enjoy sort of the game of working through everything in the fridge. It feels very tangible to me and very pleasing. So I should say that in my house I’m married to a man and I’ve been with him for 15 years and I have one preschooler. We have definitely specialized where he does all the fixing of objects and the more long term money planning and car maintenance and actually vacuuming. Since he cares more about that. And I do everything with food like he basically lives in a restaurant. I do the planning, the cooking, the end game, everything. Do you sometimes wonder I enjoy all this, but I do sometimes wonder about the degree to which I am sort of like not seeing the burden of food the way that other people do, which also includes the burden of figuring out what to do with the food once the meal is over, which is for a lot of women in relationships like mine, I think it does fall to them, and Thanksgiving is a time when this comes into focus. Tamar I know that you think about this constantly. Why are you interested in this topic?

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S3: When I cooked at a shepherd in Berkeley, in the kitchen, we would always joke about how when you’re a cook, people like to ask you what your specialty is, and that’s not a real thing. That’s a made up thing. But I actually have specialty and it’s Leftovers, and I can’t believe that. But it’s true. Like that is it’s it’s one word my elevator pitch is like, I cook Leftovers. I’ve thought about why, and it’s it’s not loving cooking Leftovers in particular. I’ve decided that it’s like a constellation of psychological tics or idiosyncrasies where it’s like, I love an underdog. More than anything, if there’s an empty restaurant in a full restaurant and you’re supposed to go to the full one because it’s obviously good, I want to go to the empty one. I feel like the pain of the empty seats and then, you know, whatever team is losing, that’s my team. And then obviously, I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. I’m in therapy and then I think I have like a hero complex where whatever it is, I think just by my attending to it, I can save it. And then I think it’s also like, I don’t I want people to feel like everything is going to be OK at all times. My impulse is like, it’s going to be fine, it’s going to be fine. I’m sure I can make that fine. And so when you kind of smush all those things together into like a delicious meatball made of things of many vintages, you get somebody who like is just a Leftovers expert.

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S2: OK, I love this so much. I can’t wait to talk about all this. All this with you. Coming up, we’re going to talk about all the different ways that leftover management ends up gendered and whether it does and if we should be talking about it that way, I think. Welcome back. So in this first segment, we’re going to talk about how Leftovers work in American kitchens and especially how the dynamics around Leftovers unfold in houses where there are men and women living together. I’m sort of trying to get beyond the anecdotal and thinking about this. I don’t know if my own experience and the experience of my friends is representative of anything ever. My own experience is that if things in my fridge are rotting, it’s me who’s going to save them. Speaking of Tamar, your idea of being the one to to rush into the rescue and my other experience is that if things are rotting and they need to be put in the compost, I’m the one to put them in there. Tamar. What’s your experience in your personal household with Leftovers?

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S3: Yours mirrors mine precisely. I’m the one who puts it away. I retrieve it to be repurposed. And if it’s passed repurposing, I compost it. And if the compost gets full and I haven’t brought it down to the compost heap, then stuff has to go in the garbage until I empty the compost. And probably as in your house, it’s not that it’s not a shared value. It’s a completely shared value in my household. But the responsibility for maintaining that value as it pertains to food is on me.

S2: So let me ask you, does your husband cook? Oh, you know how much? How much do you want to say, Well, love look like more.

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S3: OK, so then more more it sounds. It sounds like he cooks more than yours does. But I think and I think in a way that that relates pretty directly to the question of whether or not sustainable, more sustainable cooking or cooking Leftovers becomes a woman’s work. He likes to cook a thing that he wants to cook, so he really likes making burritos and tacos. But he likes to have the exact ingredients that he wants to buy canned black beans to make it, even if there’s another kind of being in the house. So like, some of that is just anybody’s comfort level. You know, I do most of the cooking, and so it makes sense that he sort of wants it to be good and wants to practice, but it’s still is circumscribed in a way. Mine, my cooking is mine, as you know, as opposite from that as you could get. How about you?

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S2: I’m sort of like a a traitor to the feminist cause a little bit in having given up so completely. But it has to do with my pleasure around it also, to some degree. And I feel like since I was curious about the sort of like the bigger picture of it, like if there’s been any, you know, larger academic work on the question of Leftovers. When I looked into it a little bit, I was like, I think the problem is that like at least in my house and maybe in other houses, if some of the stuff that I’ve been reading is any indication is that the cooking is one thing. And then procuring it’s like cooking. As I, as you know, it’s like wrapped in so many other activities like planning and procuring and then cleaning up. And then also like what one sociologist that I was reading about Leftovers, the only person I could find who wrote specifically about Leftovers described it as a divestment practice, which is sort of like a super academic way to describe what ends up happening. But I found actually a little bit useful and trying to think not just about how Leftovers work in my house, but also how like giving away like my child’s grown out of clothes, like making sure that the hand-me-downs like lands in the hands of someone who can actually wear them. That’s like another example of divestment practice, which is like, kind of like not glamorous but necessary.

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S3: Can you say a little bit more about cooking and all the layers of cooking practice as a divestment?

S2: Yeah. Well, I mean, I think I like that what you said about values. I think that if you’re going into cooking, thinking about it just as like at six p.m. on a Tuesday, I’m the one who’s going to put like all the ingredients together and make sure that it makes it to the table. So you wrote a book and Everlasting Meal: cooking with economy and grace, which I always think of as a never ending meal. But it’s actually an Everlasting Meal:,

S3: which is really funny because I actually tried to call it a never ending meal because I thought Everlasting sounded way too like chaotic, academic and religious. But the marketing people at Scribner thought that never ending sounded either like total drudgery, like you’re just sitting there and you’re like, Oh my God, will this ever end? Or like a really serious sort of problematic, not funny binge eating thing where you’re just like, can’t stop eating? So it’s Everlasting.

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S2: Everlasting, I first read it a couple of years ago, and it’s the most, it’s a very unusual. I don’t even know if you call it a cookbook. I mean, there are recipes in it, but it’s it’s more about sort of a theory. And the theory is that everything in a kitchen kind of happens in a long chain like everything is walking together or like all the different ingredients, like one ingredient is leading to the next meal and the next meal, the next meal, the next meal. So when I read this sort of sociology about divestment, the idea of divestment. It was interesting because even, you know, the articles that I was reading about about Leftovers weren’t really even getting at it like you were because they’re talking about eating Leftovers as literally there is like, you know, a Pyrex container in the fridge of Tuesday night’s Meal:. And are you going to have it for Wednesday night’s Meal:? Whereas your your idea is a lot more complicated, but also maybe I don’t know, intuitive to me, which is like repurposing different ingredients, not just like I’m having the same meal again and again, but like different parts of the meal are stretching, like from one day to the next to the next to the next.

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S3: And in the interest of historical accuracy, it is in no way my idea. I mean, I wrote, I wrote the book that we’re talking about. But my main point then was and remains that this is just what cooking is. I sort of articulated it then as an Everlasting Meal:. Now I’m writing a whole book of Leftovers recipes so that you don’t ever start. You don’t start with one cup flour. You start with leftover pumpkin pie. This is just, I mean, it’s called sometimes cucina povera or peasant cooking, or it’s just called cooking. But there has been no point in human history when women who have always cooked all of the food that we have eaten to survive other than fancy food, high end, you know, haute cuisine. Women have always used what they had to make the next meal.

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S2: One of the things that I really liked while reading this, these articles about Leftovers as sociology. So I should probably say that the person who wrote the article that I’m relying on, I’m referring to the most is Benedetta Capellini, who’s British. She did a study on Leftovers, where she looked at middle class British families, so this is in the in the 2000s. And so she talked about Leftovers like the act of being the one in the house to eat the Leftovers, which she found in a couple of households that she looked at, that it was mostly the woman who would do that, especially if it was something that people hadn’t really liked that that was sort of like an act of sacrifice, like kind of like taking a hit for the team a little bit and that. But there’s also the way that she looked at Leftovers based meals as like the places where you find out like, who is really in the family like that you wouldn’t invite people over to the house to have like a Leftovers Meal:, but you would eat it like in as a family, which was an interesting point.

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S3: I don’t think Benedetta has a ton of experience. What do you

S2: think

S3: learning Leftovers into delicious?

S2: Yeah, I know. I mean, that was the thing it was. It was definitely framed around the idea that Leftovers are subpar,

S3: that it’s like something. Yeah, which I mean, I get it, but I just think it’s worth saying, you know, of course, I totally identified with that. When you, you know, when you’re talking about like the mom being the one who does it, you can always picture that moment yourself where you’re just like eating up the the rest of your kids thing because it doesn’t sound like the sociologist had a lot of experience with turning Leftovers into other foods. I don’t know if she would have addressed this, but my so this is my grand theory that it has a lot to do with texture and with women’s, monthly and daily experience, with viscous fluids and like lifetime seminal experience with viscous fluids and the degree to which as a biological woman who identifies as a woman, you can’t get away from things that are gooey, things that are flowing, things that cohere and then don’t cohere things that move outside of the boundaries within which you wish they would stay. You know, like all of these things, like the Boney, the oozy, the the jelly, these are things that us as women cannot. You can’t avoid. It’s it’s currently impossible. And I just described the textures that you have to be not just willing to like, look at, but also taste and touch when you are going to make something great out of what’s left. And I think that like, I think that men could get it. I mean, male chefs get it right. My brother’s a chef. He totally like he makes head cheese. He perches, you know, pig’s trotters. But but that is because he learned it culinary. I’ve learned it biologically or in. Terms of my own, you know, experience. I think that’s part of it.

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S2: That’s so interesting when it comes to who in my house is more comfortable with things being gross, like it’s definitely me like. But but it also has to do with like it, is it cooking? I mean, I feel like it flows in and out of cooking experience also in a way. Because if you’re experienced with the way that food kind of like transforms over time in the fridge from one thing to another? I don’t know. Like and I I definitely think like over time as I’ve cooked more and more and become, you know, more and more comfortable with it, I’ve had enough experiences where I’ve been like, Oh yeah, this is still fine. Or you know, or like, Oh, I can do this with that to make it OK. And since my husband doesn’t have any of that experience, his experience of food is always like the food that he’s eating is on a plate and it’s like at its prime kind of. And he’s like a little scared of, as you’re saying, exactly. He’s like a little scared of it when it comes out of the fridge. If it’s been in there for a while.

S3: Yeah, I think that’s exactly right. I think the two things end up, you know, joining and reinforcing each other, right? Like a maybe a natural and natural if involuntary comfort with things that different textures ends up, maybe giving you a little bit of a leg up when it comes to learning how to sort of deal with these things and look at them and touch them and taste them. But then that and it ends up being, you know, reinforced each time you do. And so if you’re missing out on all the experiences, it’s harder.

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S2: Do you think that it is like a badge of womanly virtue in American culture in 2021? To be thrifty like to be good with Leftovers, to be good with the amount of money that you spend on groceries and the like thriving ness of your family. I don’t think so. Do you? I wonder.

S3: I don’t know enough about. I think there are too many. There are a lot of different cultures inside of our society.

S2: I think I’m I’m wondering about it because my impulse as a sometime historian when I’m talking about this question is to think about the way that it used to be seen as sort of like a a badge of honor for women to be good at this. And when I say seniors as I mean that like there was a dominant sort of cultural voice people who took it upon themselves to like, preach about what women should be good at and the kitchen I’m talking about, like people who wrote, you know, domestic advice manuals and in the 19th century, or sort of like rational eating advocates in the early 20th century who were, like willing to stand up and say, you know, in America, like, we eat this way and this is what you should, how much you should be willing to spend per week on your family’s Meal:. And now I wonder if the equivalent is like people on Instagram, like zero waste influencers or people who publicly talk about cooking on Instagram or in food media?

S3: I mean, aren’t our most? And again, I don’t know what when I say our, I’m qualifying it because I don’t know who our is, but aren’t our qualified most public and adored and emulated female figures right now. Just conspicuous consumers of all kinds like I don’t even I don’t even see that much zero waste. I mean, I don’t know where I would be seeing it, but like I know, I definitely noticed when you know, people are like, are at the farmer’s market and they have like the nice metal like silverware set that comes in a hemp bag. I mean, I notice that like that seems to go along with like looking really, you know, pretty fresh for a Saturday morning. But I don’t I don’t. I think that the the women that are being. Emulated in my mind, are not thrifty or even necessarily so environmentally, so outwardly environmentally conscious, there’s a lot of like buying things and driving around, and I don’t know how that really fits with like only spend, you know, 10 dollars a week on. On your family’s Meal: also, because we’re learning a lot more about our food system and what it actually costs to or what costs to raise food in a way that wasn’t externalizing all of the horrible environmental and human costs.

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S2: You feel like learn us learning that about the food system is sort of changing the face of thrift in a way it would have to. Yeah.

S3: In the late 1800s, when somebody was right, you know, writing it a sort of housewives guide to how you feed a family on a dollar or whatever we still had. Our country still had mostly small and mid-size family farms, and so buying one whole chicken a week for a certain price was something that could kind of like logically fit together. If you buy the cheapest chicken now it’s coming at the cost of the meatpackers lives the soil life of where it was raised. The food system has changed so extremely from when those house maker tips were coming out, but I think it was just the whole equation would be different.

S2: We’re going to take a break here, but if you’re enjoying the waves, we’d love it if you’d like and subscribe to the waves wherever you get your podcasts.

S3: And if you want to hear more from Rebecca and myself on another topic, check out our Waves Plus segment. Is this feminist where today Rebecca and I are debating whether it’s feminist to cook for your date or to be a cook for us today?

S2: All right, so we’ve talked around the big picture and we’ve talked a little bit about sort of woman’s responsibility for Leftovers ends up being something that that gets ingrained in culture a little bit. And all of that being said, I would love to talk some more about specifics when it comes to Thanksgiving Leftovers. So I think we all sort of know what to do with like if you have a turkey carcass and you’re, you know, not a vegetarian like me, you would boil it and make a stock. Or of course it the classic take a roll and put turkey and cranberry jelly in it for the next day turkey sandwich.

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S3: I think that’s one of the great sandwiches.

S2: I agree. But I wanted to ask you about some of the like the less attractive. Friday is like easy. Kind of, yeah. If you had Thanksgiving on Thursday and then on Friday, it’s like you just have sort of the Thanksgiving meal again. But let’s talk about this sort of the dregs, the sort of the less attractive Leftovers won’t start with gravy. What would you do if you had a whole bunch of extra gravy?

S3: I think it’s really important to do a gravy thing as soon as you can after the meal because like it, just once the exact things that you put gravy on on Thursday aren’t there. It starts to diminish in appeal. Super quickly. So what I like to do is turn it into a ragu like braise, a bunch of a different kind of meat. OK, you’ll use your turkey, but like beef, like slow cooked beef and use the gravy as some of the of the braising liquid. And then I’d also, of course, water it down with a little bit of your turkey stock. And probably some some wine, like the leftover wine in that one bottle that you find under the, you know, easy lazy boy or whatever. And so that it’s not like so, so, so thick because gravy started with a roux. So it has a little bit of flour in it. But if you’re making like a really thick, like sticky ragu, the kind that you’ll put on a short fat pasta or on pappardelle or something, then it’s not a problem to have that kind of richness. And you could use a also a meat that is particularly gelatinous and like rich, like like shank or some or oxtail or shoulder, or just something that you know the whole what you’re going to end up with is like a thick, wonderful pasta sauce or polenta sauce. And the great thing about that is also you can if you make, you know, a big part of it, you can freeze a bunch of it for when you’re feeling more ragu ish in a month. But I’ve definitely tried just like freezing the gravy, and I don’t I don’t want to come back to it in gravy form. I think it’s really important to just move it along.

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S2: Yeah, that happened to me last year. I froze the rest of the gravy, or a couple of years ago, I froze. There are still there, right? Yeah, it’s definitely still there, taking up space in my chest freezer. OK, what about the puree is like speaking of texture, these get glutinous mashed potatoes, squash and sweet potatoes. I always make too much sweet potato puree and then I’m just like, right now? Yeah.

S3: There are so many. I think these are another one where kind of the faster you transform, the better off you are. So one direction you could totally go is a scone or a biscuit. They could be like if you even without my giving a concrete recipe, I’m actually still developing at least one of these. But if you were just to use sweet potato puree instead of the liquid in a scone recipe, that would work. If you have a scone recipe that calls for half a cup of milk or cream at the end, you could just use sweet potato puree, and if it’s really sweet, cut down on the sugar. Sugar doesn’t do a ton in those in scone recipe, so that’s one another. That’s really good. Depending on how sweet yours is, is to make it into like a Thai style curry where you or soup or like curry flavored soup, where you start with cooking a little bit of curry paste and like red curry paste. So it’s not all brown at the end because like red plus orange is nice, but green plus orange is not as nice. So, but you could cook the curry paste down in a little bit of coconut milk and then add your puree and coconut milk. And then and then you know, you could add some shrimp or some fish and make it into like a rip and make it really, really spicy really, really different from your Thanksgiving meal if your Thanksgiving meal wasn’t spicy. Put in a lot of Thai basil, something like that.

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S2: Can you freeze like portions of the purees is? I mean, I know I’ve tried freezing us before and that worked out OK.

S3: No, no, no. Not mashed potatoes. Oh, sweet potatoes. OK, well, I’ve never had I don’t feel like I think potatoes don’t freeze very well.

S2: I think I froze it and then put them in the mashed potato bread. And maybe that was why I was OK and it wasn’t expecting to, like, enjoy the mashed potato from it. But anyway, yeah, go on.

S3: Yeah, right? So I’m sure they could. You could keep some of their qualities like whatever would be good in bread or in buns or, you know, something like that. But I also really like like the she smiles a lot when you put them through a food mill, if you need to. And then add like milk and cream. Or you could do the same thing and add some clams and have like a really wonderful clam chowder, clam potato chowder or I really like also, you know, just like spreading them out and making them spreading them out into a gratin, making them even a little richer, like putting on a bunch of shredded cheese and breadcrumbs and baking it.

S2: Oh yeah, I like that. What about when you’re cleaning up the Thanksgiving table and there’s the salad bowl that has like a bunch of sort of gloppy limp leaves at the bottom of it? What would you do with that?

S3: Well, I love that. I would probably eat it unless they were really late. If it were like up to half an hour before bedtime, I would I would eat it. But I’ve also had very good experiences just storing it as it is. And then the next day kind of like wringing it out a little and then chopping it finely and putting it in a cornmeal pancake batter and making like little fritters. And it ends up just being like kind of nice, bright green or whatever flavour like doesn’t even matter. Just chop it up small, ring it, chop it up small and put it in cornmeal pancakes and make savoury pancakes.

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S2: Oh, I love that. Uh-Huh.

S3: You know what I’ve also done? I don’t remember the exact exactly what I did eight minutes in my next book, but I’ve pureed it. And then it’s been this like amazing, rich green thing that I’ve used to make other like a like a sauce starter like, but like, I’ve used it to make this like super bright green mayonnaise. And I actually served to the point of whether or not you serve people outside of your family. Leftovers. I had just made this like just period. It was literally pureed salad. But I like the taste so much that I I made a vinaigrette with it and I brought it over to the writers house up here and served it to like, you know, 25 people during the summer, all outside. And it was like, Oh, this vinaigrette, so good. And it was literally started with my pureed old salad.

S2: What about speaking of the sweet potatoes question? This question of the sweet potato marshmallow casserole, which ends up at my Thanksgiving? Not to my own, not by my own hands, maybe, which I like a couple of scoops of, but which ends up being super sweet. Have you ever had to repurpose one of those?

S3: You know, I haven’t, but I should. It made me realize I really should for the book what I would do, just thinking about it now as I would take off the the marshmallows and use them to make rice crispy treats, you know where you melt them. And then it would just be like it would be like pumpkin spice rice, crispy treats and then use the the puree to make muffins or scones or like you can make pumpkin bread. You know, like it can make any anything that you would make with pumpkin puree or even like banana bread, any kind of smushed up sweet thing you can make with that casserole

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S2: and maybe reduce the amount of sugar by your own judgment. Yes, sir. Yeah, I have one last one. What about the end of the cranberry jelly? So we get the kind in a can we also? I also make the kind that’s to me more delicious, which is like the cooked down actual cranberries. But my husband really likes the kind of in a can, and we usually end up with about half of it left. What would you do with that?

S3: Do you do it in can form or do you warm it up?

S2: He just plain it can. Literally. It’s just like, you know, he wants to see the ridges and that’s from the can in there. Yeah. So, yeah, so usually it’s yeah. Usually it’s about a half a a solid chunk, about a half a can of cranberry jelly.

S3: I have had great success turning that into thumbprint cookies and thumper cookies are great because they’re like they kind of like expand out a little bit anyway. They’re made for a little well of something. They’re, you know, it doesn’t really matter what’s what’s in the middle of them. You can do the same thing with leftover lemon curd or really any jam. The thumbprint cookie is not really about the thing, what the thing in the middle is. It’s kind of like the contrast between jelly thing in the middle and, you know, soft but slightly crisp butter cookie around. So I made cranberry jelly butter cookies. They were great.

S2: That sounds delicious. Does the does the cranberry jelly? The texture is OK because it’s a little bit less? I don’t know. It’s a little different. It’s more quivering than my strawberry jam, doesn’t it? OK, OK. I mean, I don’t think it matters. Yeah, right. What are your what did your husband and son know when you’re when you’re eating sort of repurposed after they know what it’s like, you talk to them about it and what do they think about it?

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S3: My husband always knows my son is in a his. The things that he actually will consume have winnowed to such a small number that I just don’t think about it. Like we often have rice or bread with dinner. And so with him, it wouldn’t matter whether it were leftover or freshly made of. It’s not currently if it’s not one of like four things that include rice and bread. He’s as uninterested.

S2: I say, how old is he? Five. I see yeah, I must have even almost five year old, and the winnowing has been very real, real.

S3: Yeah, I know it doesn’t really bother me that much, but maybe that’s not true. Maybe it really bothers me and I’m just not in touch with it.

S2: It only bothers me in public. I got to be honest, it doesn’t bother me in private, but oh

S3: yeah, it’s embarrassing.

S2: Yeah, it’s embarrassing. And I bet probably even for you, you sort of lip seems like you maybe live in a world of people who really care about food.

S3: Yeah, I mean, people definitely expect him to be like, super good at eating and are surprised when he isn’t.

S2: I really think that what you eat when you’re five is not what you eat, when you’re 15 or 20. I have Faith Major. So before we head out, we want to talk about some recommendations. Tamar, what are you loving right now in life that you could recommend our listeners try?

S3: The first one’s going to sound really lame and kind of gendered, so I just want to say that, but I’m a lifelong inveterate slob like where like my husband when he met me couldn’t understand why there was always a pile of clean clothes in the middle of my bedroom. But my thinking was like, I’m going to have to put him back on anyway. So why not just leave them there where I can see them all? But I but then it also recently has really been stressing me out to just have stuff. Absolutely everywhere, and I’m right now trying to accept that I don’t have to if I am going to do sort of organizing and sifting through things, it doesn’t have to be in the margins of my day, which is, I think, why I don’t do it. It can be my that can be the work that I’ve done. Like it’s it is as important that I be able to find the, you know, the book I’m looking for as it is that I look at the book I’m looking for. So I mean, it sounds ridiculous and a show about feminism to say, I’m trying to make cleaning part of my work, but I am. And then my other my other one is equally ridiculous. But I have a peloton, which is like a stationary bike that comes with a cult attached. Yes, it does. Instead of instead of participating in the cult activity, this is not out of some like philosophical objection. This is because I just it’s just what I prefer. If I’m going to spend like 45 minutes looking at a screen, I really want it to be like a stream, a movie or a streaming service or something that I want to watch. So my so what I do is I get on the get on the peloton and then put on a class, but I on mute so I can see there’s a little number that tell me I’m supposed to be like, you know, at 40 or whatever. But then on my phone, I just watch like some French like murder mystery or something like that.

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S2: Nice. How about you? I feel a kinship with you because I do the same thing. I don’t have a Peloton, but I do it with like YouTube fitness classes. I listen to podcasts. Oh my god, I need to be distracted while I’m doing that stuff, right? Unless I’m like physically in a class, like when I when my child gets a vaccine, I’ll go back to CrossFit and then I will obviously not like, listen to a podcast while I’m at CrossFit.

S3: But you might listen.

S2: I know I do, actually. I mean, because I yeah, whenever it makes it, it makes it so much more bearable to me. But my recommendation is one that I I was going to write about for Slate, and I still might write about it. But if I have time, but I read a tip on the internet recommending mowing your leaves instead of raking them. So in our city, we have, you know, a service where the people go, know people, go around with the big street sweepers and and sweep up the leaves. And you know, it periodically happens throughout the fall. And I’m the one who’s in charge of somehow have become in charge of raking the leaves. And I really hate it even though I have a pretty small lawn. It’s sort of an irritating task. So when I read this article that said, you know, you can mow your leaves with a lawn mower, and that’s actually kind of good for the lawn because then it leaves like a fine layer of mulch on your lawn. That sort of like, you know, creates like a compost situation for that, for the lawn over the winter. I said, OK, I think that’s what I’m going to try to do. So I tried to do it, and it actually worked pretty well to mow the leaves, although I have sort of a small and ineffective lawn mower, but it looks kind of like crap. Like it’s like it’s basically looks like a lawn with like a brown sort of brown under layer, but I kind of don’t care.

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S3: Yeah, it’s not going to look like crap when it’s all healthy and happy in the spring.

S2: Yeah, exactly. And it was easier than raking. So that’s my my creative tip. Now, if you live in a neighborhood where people care what your lawn looks like a lot, you may not want to do it. But my neighborhood is pretty loosey goosey, so I decided to just do it. That’s well, that’s our show this week. The Waves is produced by Cheyna.

S3: Roth Susan Matthews is our editorial director with June Thomas providing oversight and moral support.

S2: If you like the show. Be sure to subscribe, rate and review wherever you get your podcasts. And please consider supporting the show by joining Slate Plus members get benefits like zero ads on any Slate podcast bonus content of shows like this one. It’s only a dollar for the first month. To learn more, go to Slate.com. Slash the waves.

S3: Plus, we’d also love to hear from you. Email us at The Waves at Slate.com.

S2: The winners will be back next week. Different hosts, different topic. Same time and place. Thank you so much for being a Slate Plus member, we really appreciate it. Since you’re a member, you get this weekly segment. Is this feminist question mark, question mark, question mark? Every week we debate whether something is feminist. This week we’re talking about the question of hooking it for somebody that you just started dating. So this is a recent sort of internet conversation about whether it is something that one should do to cook for somebody they just started dating like on the third, fourth, fifth date. And now I have to kind of show my cards, which is that I haven’t dated for a long time, as I previously mentioned, has been and I have been together since 2006, so my information may be out of date, but I remember I cooked for him pretty early. And whether that set up a situation where I became the only person who cooked in our household, I’m not sure. But Tamar, what do you think about this question?

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S3: I think it really cuts both ways. And it really gets to the question of how do you define feminist, right? Because I love to cook, I cook for my job, I cook for pleasure, and I really, really, really liked my husband when we were when we were dating and I would have done, you know, I want to just show him like I was pulling out all the stops. There’s no way I wouldn’t have cooked for him. It would really matter to me that he both taste my food and see how I do it. And like, I feel like so much of my personality is expressed in the way I approach food. It would have been kind of preposterous and contrived to not cook for him, however, totally. It’s like, what is it? What is it saying in terms of what what we as women are planning to provide? And, you know, maybe what matters most there is how he is like the follow up. It’s like it’s not. It’s never one instance that makes the big difference. It’s a practice like, I think the practice is probably more important than that one instance. But then it’s like the other side of it is if a guy cooks for you. On a date, then I sort of wonder if they’re then framing cooking as a special event thing, which is totally contrary to what we need it to be in everyday life, which is an everyday thing, not a special thing.

S2: Yeah, and that’s something that all these sociologists of cooking talk about constantly is the way that men’s cooking gets framed as a special event. So, yeah, I can see what you’re saying. And I guess we should probably say that this conversation is awkward because you’re sort of talking about and I believe that most people who are talking about it on Twitter, we’re talking about heterosexual relationships, which is like my knowledge base. But. And so, yeah, so we’re talking about sort of a man cooking for her. I mean, man cooking for a woman or woman cooking for a man

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S3: in a in a head, a conventionally heteronormative. Really? Yes, exactly. So it’s I mean, it’s it’s so circumscribed and it’s so circumscribed by by our own experiences and when when we grow up and how we grew up and who cooked in our households might, you know, super weird. Yeah, like a weird turn of things, my husband’s dad both was and is the main cook in their household. His mom has never cooked to his always associated cooking as being a masculine thing and his Oh, he performed me, he always cooked for his girlfriends. He, like, just ended up with a professional cook.

S2: That’s so interesting. So this same person is the person who sort of doesn’t cook now or it doesn’t cook that often. Interesting. Like to what degree can you connect that like sort of dating? I like what you said about dating being a time when you’re really trying to, you’re really trying to show them something, you’re like, you’re trying to do something. And I think that there is like a lot of baggage attached to it. I was thinking about the I think it probably went viral and like I can picture the office that I used to have when it went viral, like 2011 or something. This recipe for something called engagement chicken, which was some, I think, was an article in Cosmo by a writer who is sort of like sharing this recipe that she swore or kind of got her female friends their proposals because it was not good. You know that I know which is so gross, which is like, I don’t know. But then it becomes a question of if you live in like a culture and society where you know, there is such a thing as engagement chicken, then being a woman cooking for a man like a third day has like a different. Especially because you don’t really know them yet. Somewhat like you don’t know if they’re the depths of their sort of gender. Understanding really are that early in the relationship

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S3: and whether they’re really worth like? I mean, that also makes the assumption that being in a formally recognized monogamous relationship is better than not being and to be hoped for for everyone, and that a heteronormative man asking a woman to get married is like also, there are just so many assumptions, it seems, almost

S2: was that determined? Yeah. Well, yeah, yeah.

S3: But what do we know what the recipe was?

S2: All right. So I’m finding the recipe on Food Network dot com, and it’s listed as a recipe courtesy of Ina Garten engagement roast chicken. It’s a just a roasting chicken and then lemons and garlic inside the chicken reserve. The rest of the lemons brush with olive oil, put in a roasting pan, put lemons and two Spanish onions in a large bowl. Toss that with salt and pepper and olive oil and then put it around the chicken. So basically, and it sort of sounds a little basic, which is just roast chicken with aromatics kind of roasted underneath it or around it. It sounds delicious even to a vegetarian. But yeah,

S3: I mean, I have to be honest, I don’t what I what I hear here and that is like, I don’t really care whether it’s feminist or not. Other than in as far as the commodification of things is oppressive to women and marginalized people in general. So like that just sounds to me like a perfect example of the weird commodification of just roasting a chicken that’s just roasting a chicken. So then giving that a name and then giving it, attaching a value to it that then comes loaded with like more cultural values. And then you trade on it on different websites with different with the name of the person, like all of that, you know, speaking intersectionality. It’s only interesting to me in as far as

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S2: we got to stop. Yeah. Oh, that’s very interesting that what you’re saying. Yeah. And there’s like a there’s like a depersonalization to it in a way like you can sort of picture someone thinking, Oh, I’m going to I’m going to do this thing that’s like guaranteed to like, make a man love me or whatever. But like, what about that what she likes to cook? And like, maybe he doesn’t like Chick? I don’t know. Like, there’s like a kind of a like a widget in nature to it of like just like plug this solution into the relationship and like a marriage will result. But people like all kinds of weird food and people cook, all kinds of people cook all kinds of interesting food. You know, engagement may not result. That may be for the best. It might be for the best if you made an engagement chicken. Yeah, well, I mean, I guess I would say if I were dating again, I’d definitely cook for the person. I couldn’t help it, but I think I think I may be like you. It’s just like, you know, that’s the thing that I do, and that’s what it is.

S3: It’s probably not. Whether or not you cook for them, that will have the greatest inflection on the overall gender balance of the relationship.

S2: Well, thanks so much again. Slate Plus members, we really appreciate it. And if there’s something that you’re dying to know, whether it’s feminist or not. Please email us at the Waves at Slate.com and we’ll think about addressing it next. Thanks so much.