Thursday, November 13, 2003

Stove Top? I'm Stayin'

In the December issue of The Atlantic Monthly (not yet on line), Margaret Talbot reviews the new movie, The Stepford Wives.

The Stepford Wives was first a novel by Ira Levin written back the early 1970s. Brief plot -- disgruntled husbands revolt against liberated wives by replacing them with robots who clean the house, mind the children, fix the food, and service hubby without complaint or comment.

Talbot found the movie dated. She thinks the husband revolt isn't a real threat anymore. (I'll come back to this point another day.)

Talbot says that the real threat to women today is the perfect parenting movement. Women then didn't have parenting responsibilities that they do today. Or the food hang ups. She describes a scene in the 1975 movie version of the book:

She makes coffee for her husband, but it's instant (this is the seventies, after all, an era ignorant of the unyielding foodie standards to come): a couple of spoonfuls of those glittering crystals and he's good to go. This was a time when a bubbling tuna casserole and some Toll House cookies could make one a domestic paragon.

Every morning in the midst of the hubbub to get Steve off to work and put Jonah on the school bus and feed Ian Rice Krispies, I have to take the time to grind the Columbian beans that have been carefully stored in the freezer. And carefully measure the scoops into the Braun coffee machine.

Remember Minute Rice? Hamburger Helper? Miracle Whip? Bisquit? Pillsbury muffins? The peanut butter and jelly all swirled together in the same jar? All moldering in a food museum in Akron.

One day last year, suffering from serious sleep deprivation from nursing a new born, I went to the frozen food aisle of the neighborhood grocery looking for something to full our bellies. Ah, Tater Tots. Just the thing. Just then my friend, Sally, turned the corner. She looked at the bag of frozen, fried cardboard in my hand with horror. Nailed!

For tonight's dinner, I cut up seven or eight tiny yellow potatoes, coated them with olive oil and salt, and baked them for half an hour. Yes, they taste much better than Tater Tots and have more nutritional value, but it took a lot longer. It meant a lot less time to read the paper and surf the web. No longer are women oppressed by men, but by food snobbery.

Honey, we're having tuna tomorrow.

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