It’s hard to think of James Bond having anything but a dry martini to act as a quaffable accessory to his perfectly tailored tuxedo and a stunningly undernourished girl. You’d never see him handling a drink with an umbrella in it. (Of course, he would have no issue handling a girl who has a drink with an umbrella in it.)
And how often do you see men load up on yogurt? Especially something like Activia, which claims to “improve digestive transit?” I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard a gaggle of guys at the soccer field water fountain moaning while clutching their bellies, wishing they weren’t so bloated.
Sure, there are foods that are typically eaten by more females than males, and if you sit through five minutes of a football game on TV, you’ll find yourself fighting the urge to belch the alphabet along with the guys in the beer commercials. Although many get stuck on the letter B when the Beer, Beef & Babes subliminal advertising kicks in.
But what of cooking? Are there gender preferences there, too? I know plenty of women who handle the grill, but how many fellas make cake pops? Or madeleines? How many guys garnish? Author note: I do not.
But my husband does—and with great flare–but I attribute that to the fact that he’s English, grew up watching Fanny Cradock, and lived to tell of it.
Whether garnishing, soufflé-ing, quiche-ing, or mousse-ing, I’ve come across plenty of men who jump into the arena of artful technique and extreme creativity. However, it’s a little more unusual to come across one who will dip his toe into the pond of preserves. Seeing the average male come through the front door with an armload of Ball jars, a 33 quart enamel stockpot, and a basket full of freshly picked berries would make you look over his shoulder to see if he was carrying in June Cleaver’s groceries. Hearing the guy say, “Where’s my apron? Now clear out the kitchen, I’m about to bring Smucker’s to their knees,” is something many women would pay money to experience.
Is this so unusual? Not to G. Tilton Pugh II. He is a lineman at our local airport, drives a massive fuel truck, and probably performs his own tooth extractions. To top it off, this guy has made canning cool. He makes what I call MAN JAM. The jellies contain your average fruit, but he pitches in a load of jalapeños, allowing the more timid males at your breakfast table the opportunity to enjoy fruit preserves without fear of anyone eyeing his pinky when lifting a cup of tea.
Statements like, “Hey, pass me that kick-ass curd at your end of the table,” and “This stuff needs to be on a hunk a meat!” will likely float through conversation.
I expect folks will go through their closets, tossing shoes over their shoulders in the hunt for that old pair of cowboy boots gifted to them the year the whole high school thought them fashionable.
You’ll be greeted each morning with a quick nod and a, “Mornin’, ma’am.” Your husband may forego shaving for a day or two as it fits nicely with his new rough 24/7 five o’clock shadow. There may even be talk of trading in the minivan for a truck with a flatbed.
As heart-palpatatingly pleasant as it may be to find you’re suddenly living—if only temporarily—with the Marlboro Man, my point is that not only can fellas take it on their toast, but now they can make it for their toast.
All the raised eyebrows alone may be enough to encourage any guy to take a crack at it. Seeing the impressed faces at work as you leave a jar on someone’s desk with your own brand name like Men’s Meteoric Marmalade or Joe’s Jawbreaking Jelly can also become addictive.
The point, and I do have one, is that labeling activities as gender specific is wrong. Labeling jars by flavor and fire is fun! (If only as a cross off your bucket list activity.)
Men? Head on out to your local berry patch during the next month or two, or hunt the produce isles of your neighborhood Piggly Wiggly, and mosey on into the kitchen.
Pop some Dwight Yoakum, Johnny Cash, or any guy who’s spent some time in prison and came out the other side with a record deal into the CD player. Now make some MAN JAM.
Don’t forget the jalapeños. This stuff should scrape the tartar off your teeth.
Click here for MAN JAM recipes and ideas on how to use it elsewhere, or click here for G. Tilton Pugh II’s website, selection and order form.
Happy cooking, cowboys!
Don’t forget to check out what’s cookin’ in the Scullery this week (here) and what we’re all talkin’ about down in the pub (here).