Do Dominican men fail the kitchen test, or are they no worse than men from other countries? While I wait for your replies to pour in, let me tell you about my experience.
I have been married for 10 years to a divine Dominican man called Pedro. He is absolutely perfect in every way, but – alas – once I had decided he was the man for me, I began to realize that there was one huge drawback here: the man could not cook. In an ideal world my husband would be a gourmet chef, not because I can’t cook myself or don’t like cooking, but because I enjoy sharing the pleasure of cooking and would really prefer not to have to cook every day.
Pedro has shown some initiative in the kitchen, but this is restricted to the dishes he likes that I haven’t mastered, like mangú for breakfast. Not being a fan of heavy breakfasts of any sort, be they the English fry-up or Mexican huevos rancheros; boiling and mashing viveres first thing in the morning is not a task I rush to undertake. Pedro, who prefers his mangú to my marmite toast, has been forced by sheer necessity to enter the kitchen for this purpose.
I have to wrack my brains to come up with another culinary achievement by Pedro, and can only cringe at the memory of his noble but ill-fated attempt to make boiled eggs and toast for a large group at breakfast last Christmas morning… and honestly nothing else comes to mind. On the positive side I think there is potential there and that some more encouragement and persistence from me could produce great results in the long term, but it’s bound to be a slow process.
Put it down to macho culture, where women do everything for their husbands and sons and in some cases do not even let them enter the kitchen. It is by no means unique to the Dominican Republic or the rest of the Latin world. This has been the case in Northern Europe and North America until recently as well. The difference is that young people in the northern countries tend to leave home to live independently well before getting married, so both men and women learn to cook out of necessity. In the Dominican Republic and other Latin countries it is still the norm to remain in the parental home until marriage, but this is changing.
I know a couple of exceptions to the rule, and not just from members of the younger generation. An outstanding example is an uncle of Pedro’s who has cooked us some of the most delicious and memorable meals I have tasted in the DR.
If you share my predicament, I have one piece of advice: there are many men all over the world who cannot cook but I have yet to find one who is physically incapable of doing auxiliary menial tasks such as washing dishes or chopping vegetables. Whether they are willing is another matter…
I would be interested in hearing people’s experiences, so if you are a Dominican man, or living with one please let us know what you think.