The Daily Telegraph - Saturday
Men, what kind of chef are you? half-baked, or cooking with gas?
Ed Balls has written an autobiographical cookbook, entitled Appetite, which will feature recipes – one per chapter – that he was taught to cook by his mother. You may remember that the former shadow chancellor won the BBC’s Celebrity Best Home Cook back in February, and on Twitter he describes himself as “dad, cook, pianist, economist” which all goes to show that Ed Balls is not just a man of his time but one step ahead of the game.
In 2021, being a civilian male who cooks for his family not only gets you brownie points, it’s a sign that you are (probably) domesticated, egalitarian, considerate and in touch with your emotions.
This is how it is now. If you want to impress, you can put away the baby papoose, the six-pack and the sporting trophies, because the big question that everyone is interested in is what kind of “man cook” are you? If you’re curious to know the answer, here are the types, in no particular order:
A BALLS COOK
As in Ed Balls, someone who learnt to cook from his mother or grandmother, long before Jamie Oliver made cooking the thing you did if you wanted to impress your mates. A Balls cook is not interested in showing off, only in using up all the leftovers in a nutritious, delicious way, with minimum fuss – although he may just surprise you with a cheese soufflé to start. This is our top-scoring man cook type, though we’d settle for the more experimental Jamie Oliver sort, naturally.
When he says he’ll cook you know it will involve at least one Marco Pierre White-style throwdown
We had John Torode on this subject only the other day; blokes who take up cooking when the barbecue comes out are generally less interested in the food than the fire. They’ve given marinades a bad name, not to mention fish kebabs, and they’re the reason women in Britain dread barbecue season and are willing the grill to be stolen along with the hot tub.
THE ‘I’M COOKING TONIGHT’ COOK You know this one. When he says he’s cooking tonight you’re the opposite of relieved because it will suck in every member of the household, involve at least one Marco Pierre White-style throwdown, and money will be haemorrhaged. It will come as no surprise to anyone when he dashes out at 5.30pm to buy a “skillet” as recommended by Rick Stein.
THE COMPETITIVE COOK
This man cook is not interested in competing with women (only too happy to exchange tips) but with other men: uh oh – watch out. Scathing about Charlie’s meatballs, not happy about the seasoning of the padrón peppers, or the ingredients used in the paella. “You’re putting oil in that?
Really?” There’s a whole sledging thing going on with this lot. He is our second-least favourite type of man cook after barbecuers.
THE INGREDIENT FASCIST
This one likes everything to be inside its sell by date (ha ha) and refuses to cheat with, say, pre-cooked beetroot. He also won’t believe us when we tell him that you can heat up anything providing it doesn’t smell strongly of decay. Less trouble than the “I’m Cooking Tonight” man, but only just.