Mothers cop blame for men's poor cooking skills

By Abby Gillies

Self-confessed poor cook Matt Williams admits he leaves it mostly to his wife. Photo / Richard Robinson
Self-confessed poor cook Matt Williams admits he leaves it mostly to his wife. Photo / Richard Robinson

Some men consider themselves whizzes in the kitchen but more than half the women quizzed in a survey rate their partners' cooking skills as basic at best.

And they believe their mother-in-law is often to blame.

The Tegel survey was carried out by advertising agency DraftFCB.

More than 1700 women aged 15 to 74 who were married or living with a partner took part, answering questions about men's roles in the kitchen.

The findings showed more than half of the respondents rated their partner's cooking skills as very limited.

Twenty-one per cent described them as "extremely basic", and 2 per cent said their partner couldn't even boil an egg.

"I often get my husband to help out in the kitchen but I can only ever ask him to do basic things, and it's a bit frustrating," said one respondent.

When it came to who should teach a man to cook, almost all those quizzed - 94 per cent - placed the responsibility on their mothers-in-law.

One advised all mothers to "do your future daughter-in-laws a favour and teach your sons to cook".

Almost half of the women said their man was a self-taught cook, 15 per cent said they taught their partners, and 16 per cent of the men were taught by their mother.

But it wasn't just a lack of ability that irked women; they said men also weren't pulling their weight with cooking responsibilities.

More than a quarter of the women surveyed said their partners never cook, and only 6 per cent saying the cooking was shared equally.

"Cooking should be a shared family activity not the sole responsibility of one member," said one.

However, not all of the women were dissatisfied.

"I'm very lucky to have my husband. He considers himself to be the next Jamie Oliver and I love him dearly," boasted one lady.

When men did take on the cooking, roasts, chicken dishes, barbecues, curries and stir-fries were among their best dishes.

Psychologist Sara Chatwin said New Zealanders were often quite traditional in their gender roles when it came to cooking, but if women wanted their men to step up, the women needed to step back.

"I think it's because everyone has been socialised that way, but they also are not stepping back to let their men in the kitchen. Men want to have a go, but they're not necessarily allowed," she said.

"I think families would benefit by having both parents that are able to put something together if the need is there."

Novice making slow progress

Matt Williams admits he's an amateur in the kitchen.

The 26-year-old creative copywriter cooks about once a week for himself and wife Helen, though she wished it was more often, he said.

"On a scale of one to 10, I'm a four, maybe. Not terrible, but I'm definitely a basic repertoire of skills.

"She's always encouraging me to do more. I think she gets a bit sick of me not cooking," he said.

However, he got home later than her so she tended to do most of the cooking, which Mr Williams said he substituted with doing the dishes and "a bit of DIY".

When he does get into the kitchen, curry is usually on the menu.

"An out-of-the-packet, fry up the onions and put in the sauce and throw in the chicken ... and barbecue, obviously I've mastered that."

The largely self-taught cook enjoyed getting into the kitchen and was keen to develop his culinary skills but it was often slow progress, including a failed attempt at pumpkin and mushroom soup this week.

"The recipe said nutmeg and I had cinnamon and it didn't really work."


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