the way to a man's heart
on the one (scholarly) hand, it provides ample scientific references, analyzing brain size and other physiological characteristics of primates, pre-humans, proto-humans, and, if we can claim the title, humans ourselves, to satisfy anyone's inner and well-fed geek. its reasoned and well-substantiated premise is that it was cooking that enabled the greatest part of our physical evolution, not to mention our sociological evolution as well.
but it's the interpersonal ramifications that have me most distracted this particular lunch hour.
having experienced a failed mating partnership, and been supplied with an endless litany of "reasons" for it, from my ex, my ex's therapist, (won't call him mine, even though i attended for a couple years), and everybody else in my family and most folks beyond, i consider myself a pretty rich repository of human interpersonal theory. but i'd never been given this particular perspective on things, and, i have to say, i feel myself quite a bit the poorer for it. (if only!)
paraphrasing (likely quite inaccurately, but it's the best i can do) from mr. wrangham's analysis, one could derive an opinion that it was the cooking element of the human inter-sexual division of hunter gatherer labor that really put the evolutionary stamp on our interpersonal instincts. (there's much, much more to the book, but i'm off on a tangent here, so please bear with me).
the first problem with this conclusion is that it flies in the face of conventional "civilized" preference for symmetrical, egalitarian and "politically-correct" gender wisdom, and leaves an unfortunate sort of asymmetrical impression about our historical gender politics. never mind that we all can agree that humanity's history is rife with gender political asymmetry--we've just become somewhat uncomfortable to face any accusation that such asymmetry survives somewhere deep inside our human hard-wiring. "who says a woman's place is in the kitchen!"
the archeology and anthropology of our historical and pre-historical record is that most all past humans did, males and females alike, and our present discomfort with that isn't ever going to change that. (blame wrangham, not me--i'm just recapping the book, y'all).
anyway, the thing that has me fascinated today is the reflection that my failed marital relationship contained the practical equivalent of zero traditional cooking roles, and my most successful non-marital relationships of the current day contain the practical equivalent of total traditional cooking roles. (though i will, on my own, cook anything and everything i care to, and would be in no danger of starving, especially while thwaites market still trades in scotch eggs). yeah, i threw that last parenthetical bit in because i was too worried about how it might sound, that i actually have and enjoy companionship with and from women who take care of me via my and their kitchens.
and here's the thing:
i LIKE it. i respond to it. i EAT IT UP, as it were. i don't feel compelled to reciprocate, and i don't feel guilty to be indulged.
know why i think why?
i think it's because it's not done as part of a transaction. (i.e. "you hunt for me, i cook for you"). rather, it feels like it's part of a joint expression of who i am, as well as who i am with. it's as if the women are saying "i cook therefore i am", and i'm saying "i very much like who you are" and the whole thing is beautiful. (i'm not saying all women do or should say that--i'm just saying it about the few with whom i'm happily consuming cooked comestibles).
of course, i have many many friends for whom interpersonal inter-gender relationships are successfully based on nothing like this. again, that's NOT what i'm saying.
i'm just sayin', that there seems to be a lot more of that "through his stomach" thing for me that meets the eye.