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Taste of PowerFood and American Identities$
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Katharina Vester

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780520284975

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520284975.001.0001

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“Wolf in Chef’s Clothing”

“Wolf in Chef’s Clothing”

Manly Cooking and Negotiations of Ideal Masculinity

Chapter:
(p.66) Two “Wolf in Chef’s Clothing”
Source:
Taste of Power
Author(s):

Katharina Vester

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520284975.003.0003

This chapter examines the formations of normative masculinities from the 1890s to the present. Images of campfire cooking or hardboiled detectives allowed writers such as Theodore Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway, Dashiell Hammett, as well as dozens of lesser-known male cookbook authors, to express an ideal masculinity centered on radical independence from women. Male cookery shielded itself from the effeminizing potential of entering the kitchen either by denigrating women’s competence in one of the tasks most closely associated with them or by positing women as the reward obtained by successful mastery of cooking. The emergence of the gourmet in the 1940s and 1950s was not a gender-neutral concept, but an instrument deployed by men’s magazines such as Esquire and Playboy as the embodiment of a new masculine ideal: the sophisticated cosmopolitan and sexual conqueror. Controversies within the African American community over the gendered assumptions inherent in the promotion of soul food point to cross-cutting issues of class and religious identity that highlighted divergent strategies of masculine performance in the tumultuous 1960s. While cooking instructions for men seem like they might undermine a binary gender organization, they usually reaffirm it.

Keywords:   masculinity, campfire, hardboiled, soul food, gourmet, tailgating

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