We have been talking about the Duties of a Young Wife — what a woman should do immediately after getting married, perhaps age 18-25. We will assume that this Young Wife is a stay-at-home wife, and does not yet have children, but probably will soon. In the end, it is not so different for wives who work full time.
Cooking is a major activity for the Young Wife. She should take it seriously. If she has not yet practiced cooking very much, she should start the process of becoming a good cook. If her mother taught her how to cook, she should improve her skills. It took my wife five years to learn how to cook well.
These days, a woman doesn’t need to know how to make clothing, milk cows or play the piano. But, the modern family still gets huge benefits from a wife who can cook well.
Today, the importance of a woman who cooks well is not much appreciated. If anything, a woman faces criticism for actually doing something useful and important, and which benefits her husband and family. It seems like most young women are told that they are to be served and doted on like Disney Princesses. Have you ever seen a Disney Princess that knows how to cook? (Maybe Cinderella, but she wasn’t a princess.)
Let’s look at some of the important aspects of cooking well:
- Eat Well Every Day. Eating is a major part of life. Life is more fun when you eat well every day. Also, meals are a major social event, for the family and also for friends.
- You husband will love it. Men know the value of a woman who cooks well.
- It’s fun. Cooking is an activity that can be a lot of fun. Just look at how many foodie and cooking shows there are. Don’t those Celebrity Chefs look like they are having a good time? Cooking can be a great hobby. Besides, a stay-at-home Woman of Leisure has a lot of time on her hands. What better use of it than to learn how to cook?
- It’s an important part of our culture and civilization. Think of what a central part food plays in the great civilizations of the world. France is France in part because of French food. Japan has great food. Chinese cuisine can be wonderful. If you have ever been to a Central American or African country where the choice is between Rice with Chicken and Chicken and Rice, you will know what I am talking about.
- It’s cheaper. Eating out in restaurants, even cheap restaurants like takeout, can get expensive quickly. Also, restaurant food is generally not very healthy. It is supposed to be special-occasion food, not everyday food. Or, it is supposed to be quick and slightly addictive, like fast food. You can’t control for food quality very well with restaurants. Looking for a pizza restaurant that uses organic flour? Good luck with that. Fast food often contains chemicals and additives. Even deli meats and cheeses typically have a ton of salt. When a woman cooks well for her family, it can even be cheaper than what a busy single man spends while eating often in restaurants. Having a wife saves you money. Plus, sex. There’s a reason men used to get married, in the past.
- It’s healthier. People today are grossly unhealthy, fat and ugly. Mostly, this is due to poor diet. Processed, prepared and packaged foods, and fast foods, are the main cause. A Young Wife should learn to cook from single ingredient foods — fruits, vegetables, beans, rice, spices, herbs, meat. Things that don’t have a list of ingredients. Avoid all processed, prepared and packaged foods. Make it yourself. Besides avoiding all kinds of chemical additives, you can also step up the quality. A fifty-pound bag of organic bread flour doesn’t cost much. Use a breadmaker, and you can have fresh-baked organic bread every day. Get organic beans and bananas. Use lots of fresh vegetables, potatoes, or squash. Look for naturally-raised poultry or beef, perhaps from small independent producers. Think of all the health consequences of bad food today. A major duty of the Young Wife is to research all these topics, and create food for the family that keeps them healthy, slim and strong.
Learn these things before children arrive. You want to be able to cook well so that, when you also have children to take care of, you are not fumbling around in the kitchen or grabbing for processed foods because you don’t know how to cook.
Cleaning doesn’t take much time these days, but cooking properly still takes hours each day. Often, the best way to approach this is to Do More: to make cooking into an aspiration, goal or enthusiasm, rather than a burden you would rather avoid. Some women have undertaken to make every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering The Art Of French Cooking. Another woman might want to learn about Indian cuisine, or learn the subtleties of making bread.
Doing the dishes is part of housekeeping, and thus the woman’s duty. Sometimes men like to do the dishes, just as an expression of gratitude for his wife’s effort at making a fine meal each day. But, if he doesn’t want to, he doesn’t have to. Do the dishes. My wife often doesn’t allow me to do the dishes even when I offer. But, she has Japanese standards in mind. In the Japanese way, men do not even fill their own bowls, but ask their wives to do it. My wife takes pride that, at her table, things are done properly; this means, she fills my bowl.
Take meals seriously. Today, many people don’t even have “meals.” They are eating in the car or snacking at the kitchen counter standing up, or in front of the television. One advantage of cooking — from single ingredient foods — is that you can’t snack, because there are no snacks. You don’t buy prepared or processed foods. When you have to cook, you have meals. A regular dinner together is an important part of family life. Insist on it. Even before children, insist that your husband sits down at the table for dinner together with you, and that he spends at least thirty minutes at the table.
Make sure that the accompaniments to meals are beautiful and classy. Have a regular dining table — maybe something beautiful and antique. Have pretty tablecloths or napkins. Have excellent dishware or glasses. I have some antique English silverware (actually it is silver plated, but made in 1863) that cost me less than stainless stuff at Pottery Barn. Use the good stuff every day. You can buy good-quality china or glassware, on the used market, for hardly any money at all. And, it doesn’t wear out. Small children should have plastic plates and cups, but otherwise, there is no reason to use junk. Dress properly for dinner, and insist that everyone else does too. You don’t have to wear lipstick and earrings every day, but no yoga pants and sweatshirts either. And, you can wear lipstick and earrings if you want to.