One of the bestsellers in the early 1980s was a book called Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche. The 1982 work gave rise to the term quiche-eater, which connoted a man who had elite tastes in food and clothing, brought flowers to his date, knew how to make, pronounce, and/or enjoy quiche. (Hey, that sounds like the man I married!)
The concept of the metrosexual male wasn’t around yet. What a difference [gulp] thirty years make. If you look at who’s into fashion, food, and Whole Foods these days, you’ll see a lot of men. According to an Adweek article last September, there’s a growing number of men cooking and watching food television. While women still comprise a large number of food blog readers and cooks, men are weighing in online at food sites and taking on a larger portion of the home cooking duties.
In my corner of the food world, I’ve noticed a bit of this shift. It has been wonderfully surprising.
Soon after Asian Tofu came out, I got a message from James Glucksman of the Pen-y-bryn Lodge in New Zealand. He’d listened to my radio interview on NPR’s Splendid Table, immediately downloaded the tofu ebook, and started making tofu from scratch. James used to live in Beijing and was without good fresh tofu in the area where he currently resided. We emailed about sourcing coagulants, and he kept me abreast of his progress via email and Facebook.
James was so enthralled that he initiated a great eGullet discussion on making tofu and using the book. One of the eGullet contributors was a blogger named The Tin Cook, who was also among the first responders to the tofu book.
He made his own tofu press (shown below) and has since gone on to make nigari. WOW, like I don’t do that. The Tin Cook went the Full Monty on tofu.
Some men send me photos of their tofu prowess via Twitter. The photo at the top of this post came from @BareChestedChef, who made his own nigari too. @Mty917 tweeted his tofu success and I found his tofu photo, which posted on my Pinterest tofu board.
Brian Trinh didn’t make tofu from scratch but he tackled a tough tofu dish: Hakka-style stuffed tofu pockets. He documented his experience with a slideshow in his Asian Tofu book review, published at Huffington Post in Canada.
Ladies, your efforts are neither lacking nor forgotten! For example, at the Pinterest “Tofu Obsession” board, look for the Tofu Nerds t-shirt from @fujimama and @sushiday. Check out the gorgeous shot of DIY tofu by @julieskitchen, who tweeted that she nearly cried when the soy milk coagulated!
Emily Ho just interviewed me for story at Apartment Therapy and Yasmin Fahr and I chatted about unusual tofu uses for her piece at The Daily Meal. Priscilla Mayfield reviewed the book for Orange Coast magazine's blog, then test drove the Sichuan pressed tofu with peanuts in chile bean sauce (page 138). Other women have reported making dishes from the book on Facebook.
That said, most of the Amazon reviews for Asian Tofu have been written by men. It’s totally unexpected as I didn’t write the book for a specific gender. Frankly, I welcome reviews from any of you, regardless of gender. If you’re inclined, share your thoughts about the book on Amazon. I always appreciate and need your support!
Not Just Tofu
Then there’s David Downie (AustralianBeers.com) from the Tallebudgera Valley at the Gold Coast in Australia. Out of the blue, he emailed that he was cooking up a pot of chicken pho from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. His motivation for the weekend project:
I was lucky to grow up a few minutes drive from a Viet community. I don't know when I discovered pho but it was probably the one good thing I could buy locally. I have been eating it for a while.
Recently our pho vendors have been off their game. Our favorite went broke. Plus I moved from Asian to European food and put on weight. I needed to get back to lighter Asian food.
This is David’s lovely bowl of chicken pho:
He then creatively turned his leftover pho into a riff on Thai pork braised with star anise (see below; the recipe is on page 526 of Thompson’s Thai Food). David wrote:
I just winged it though from memory and using dark and light soy with extra palm sugar as I didn't have any sweet soy. I probably used half pho stock half water as Thai broth is very light. I normally just use water with the DT [David Thompson] dish. Also had to be careful with seasonings as my [pho] stock had a lot of fish sauce.
David followed up the Asian cooking adventure by planting a Kaffir lime tree on his property. This will likely fuel more happy meals:
In the past 10 years, I’ve made lots of food and cooking friends through my publications and websites. In the main, they’ve been women with a smattering of men. This year, the guys are coming out in stronger force and it’s great.
I don’t know if it’s the tofu, but I am totally digging it. Any way that that I can inspire people to cook good food—whatever their gender or background—I’m all for it. And, if you want to let me know about your successes, that’s totally cool.
Among the stories that people have shared:
- A Near Strawberries and Cream Cake Wreck
- DIY Engagement and Wedding Cake
- A Vietnamese Waif's First Mardi Gras