I’ve always had a bit of a girl crush on Nigella Lawson. She’s gorgeous, driven, and passionate about food, and she can often be seen unapologetically indulging in her own creations. Her new book How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking is out now, and at the Hay Literary Festival this past weekend, she had this to say about it:
I think it’s a very important feminist tract in its own right, and I’m not being entirely ironic. Baking is the less applauded of the cooking arts, whereas restaurants are a male province to be celebrated. There’s something intrinsically misogynistic about decrying a tradition because it has always been female.
Sing it, sister. It might seem silly at first to think of baking, a traditional housewife activity, as being anything in the neighborhood of feminist (isn’t that what we were fighting to not have to do?), but she has a point. If we are going to have a truly egalitarian society, it’s not enough to open traditionally “masculine” careers to women. We also need to stop denigrating traditionally “girly” things just for being girly. So if a female chef wants to get all “manly” and open a restaurant that serves whole roasted pigs stuffed with the remains of various exotic birds, more power to her. And if she wants to open an amazing bakery that serves the prettiest, tastiest cakes known to humanity, how is that any less of an accomplishment? It’s not. And heck, men should want to become respected bakers too, because baking is awesome.
As for those of us not in the restaurant biz, it might be harder to see how baking a cake can be feminist. But I guess the idea is, you should feel equally accomplished whether you’re mastering the art of pastry or barbecue. And of course, when a woman bakes a bunch of cookies for herself and then eats them without feeling any guilt or shame, it goes against all sorts of societal rules. Hooray for cookies all the time, and hooray for Nigella Lawson providing a positive culinary role model for young women.