Before purchasing this book, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, a moment ago, I read a review of it on NYT. In that review, I found this striking passage:

Among the most provocative passages in “Catching Fire” are those that probe the evolution of gender roles. Cooking made women more vulnerable, Mr. Wrangham ruefully observes, to male authority.

“Relying on cooked food creates opportunities for cooperation, but just as important, it exposes cooks to being exploited,” he writes. “Cooking takes time, so lone cooks cannot easily guard their wares from determined thieves such as hungry males without their own food.” Women needed male protection.

Marriage, or what Mr. Wrangham calls “a primitive protection racket,” was a solution. Mr. Wrangham’s nuanced ideas cannot be given their full due here, but he is not happy to note that cooking “trapped women into a newly subservient role enforced by male-dominated culture.”

Cooking liberated humans from the tyranny of chewing and the heaviness of a long gut. It also liberated us from "eating on the spot." But the liberation came at the price of oppressing women. In another essay, Wrangham points out that he has yet to find a culture (outside of the current postindustrial culture) in which men consistently cook for women. The oppression is universal and institutionalized by marriage, the mother of all protection rackets.


Coincidentally, my dead mother appeared in my dream last night. She was young and looked great. She was in a kitchen preparing her son a meal. She was cutting carrots and throwing the slices into a pot. Even in my dream, a woman (my first woman) is stuck cooking food.