With this being International Women's Day . it's time we celebrate the impact of women on food and nutrition. After all it's not our dads anf grandads that fed us but our mothers and grandmothers. Yet there seems to be more male chefs than female chefs, while it seems there are more waitresses than waiters. What gives?
Since the earliest of our days, it's been the females that have been providing food, whether from the earliest hunter-gatherers to the first "home chefs" roasting meat on wood spits over a fire. It's the women who ground the wheat to make the bread that fed the family. They made sure children had the best nutrition for the time, as they tended to gardens. Our sisters from antiquity probably introduced fruits and vegetables to their families diets, expanding both their husbands and childrens' palates. Some of these recipes exist today in the form of matzoh and pita, roasted lamb and dumplings . The home chefs that lived during the Roman and Greek empires and the Han Dynasty realized the importance of meals being eaten together too, and how it would strengthen family ties.They passed down themselves and their stories in dishes that the next generation of both girls and boys are making today with electric stoves and all sorts of modern gadgets .Believe it or not we're all eating some form of the Paleo diets thanks to our early female ancestors.
You would think that with women ruling the kitchen , they'd be ruling the culinary world. Not so much, even in this day and age.The cookbooks, were written by women, with the first real one penned by Isabella Beeton in the 1860's but a woman owning a restaurant was unheard of , unless she ran it with her parents husband, or children.It was a man who gave us the famed Gilded Age eatery Delmonico's in lower Manhattan.it was the great chef Auguste Escoffier , a Frenchman who was the world's first celebrity chef. It took a century later for the first female, chef, Julia Child who captivated American home chefs and foodies in the 1960's./. She also laid the groundwork for the celebrity chef culture that came thirty years later in the 1990s. Still, there seems to be an imbalance with the number of male chefs to female chefs today. The only successful female chef now is Lidia Bastianich who has her TV show , restaurants,products and cookbooks. She's on the same par as Bobby Flay, and Gordon Ramsey but she' really the only one. There's an imbalance lower down the culinary ladder too.. Most of the fast food managers are men, Assistant managers are women, but it seems that this is the highest they can go. The first tier workers are usually female also. Could it be that boys would rather work in the Apple stores as opposed to a Wendy's or McDonald's? Or that girls are just pointed to kitchens.?
Today is the Internatioal Women's Day. We have fed and nurtured the world for millennia. Yet in some sectors of the food industry we're still treated like underlings. It has to change- and we have to change it.