By Mộc Miên
I was at a party at my cousin’s house when I found something really weird.
My 14-year-old niece did not know how to tell salt and sugar apart; she even poured boiling water on leafy vegetables to kill bacteria.
My cousin, Nguyễn Thu Lan, an overindulgent mother, said: “Children are now overloaded with homework and extra classes. You can’t have them do any cooking, especially not when meals happen before their school time. I love to do all these things so that they focus on their study.”
Well, maybe it is understandable, given that modern society tends to recognize intellectual values, money making abilities, sports and artistic aptitudes for personal development rather than housework or cooking skills.
It has almost become an emerging trend that young women do not know how to use a kitchen properly, resulting in “failed” meals and unexpected accidents such as burns, breakdown of equipment and so on. Many people are surprised about this clumsiness among women and are berating them for being “lazy” and “ignorant”.
“Young women now are less skillful than women in the past. They find it easy to buy readymade meat or fish dishes so they just have to cook rice and boil vegetables. Even routine dishes like stewed meat or sour fish soup seem challenges for them, far less more sophisticated and well-decorated dishes. They’ve gradually become indifferent to food knowledge and cooking skills,” said Phạm Thị Huệ, 55, a retiree.
Huệ also said that her daughter-in-law used to be very clumsy. The first time she met her parents-in-law to be, the stir-fried vegetables and sour soup she made was too salty and sour. Everyone was very disappointed, she said, adding that it took a lot of effort to improve the young woman’s cooking skills.
But there are many people who reckon that it is no longer the duty of women in a family to do cooking and housekeeping. Men should shoulder this burden with their wives, they say.
That said, there are many women who love cooking, but find little time to practice. Like their husbands, after a long working day, they also have to struggle through traffic jams to reach home, and in the morning, leave early for work.
It is too exhausting to set aside more time for cooking. The less time they spend on cooking, the less skilful they beome in the kitchen. If husbands understand this and share the burden with them, things will become much easier.
“I am not lazy about learning how to cook. I do not blame my wife for not cooking for me if she is busy. But deep down, I would love to enjoy a simple, tasty meal prepared by my wife at home by the end of the day,” said Trần Tuấn Hải, 30, a newly married man.
Robert Horwath, an American husband of a Vietnamese woman, said that he used to be married to an American woman and also had some girlfriends. None of them cooked for him, because it was not their duty.
“The cooking skills of a woman is not the key element in a relationship. I can do everything on my own and I do not expect them to do it for me. But I really appreciate those who cook for me.”
Nowadays, many husbands seem more tolerant of the poor cooking skills of their wives. There is the view that men also need to master the skills regardless of their professional profile. It is a skill needed to lead an independent life.
“In case you find few sources of readymade food or your income cannot afford eating out regularly, cooking is very important. First, it helps you to be independent and self-confident. Second, it contributes to a better quality of life and a happier family atmosphere in which members are closely connected. So I think that cooking skills are necessary, whichever society we live in,” Huệ said. VNS