Thursday, October 05, 2006

Bong men can't cook (unless they get married)

Okay the title of this post is an invitation for trouble. But before any of you fly off your handle and start protesting violently do read through this post and give me a fair hearing.

I was talking to someone the other day who was trying to tell me about his culinary prowess. Now the fact that this person was male, unmarried and a bongoshontan* made it a little hard for me to believe that he could and would be able to rustle up a meal. The truth of the matter is almost every single unmarried Bong** guy I have come across seems unwilling to spend time in the kitchen unless there is a dire emergency. And by that I mean either severe gastric pangs. Or a girl-pataoing, impression creating, show-off involved. Outside of those circumstances I refuse to believe a Bong guy will toil for hours in the kitchen preparing ras malai and palak paneer.

I know you will toss statistics around about how most of the famous chefs are male and how men are passionate about their skill and do it out of the sheer love of cooking, unlike women who do it because historically speaking they have always been expected to prepare the food. And then we have people like Gordon Ramsay who go around spreading stories like this. And I am not denying any of that. It could very well be true. I am talking about a completely different genre here. And that is Bong men. And yes, I am stereotyping. And generalizing. Because every single Bong guy I have seen has never willingly tread the culinary path. And I think I even the know the reason for such apathy. It's the Bong women!

You see right from the beginning the little Bong guy is taught that cooking is a woman's forte and the kitchen is Mom's domain. A haven where men do not trespass. So the Bong Mom cooks and cleans and spends hours inside the kitchen while the menfolk get fed and coddled and protected from any sort of culinary exposure. Take for example my Dad. A typical Bong male who went from the pampered preserve of my Grandmother's sanctuary straight into the one prepared by my Mom. I have never seen my Dad fetch a glass of water for himself, let alone getting his own food. Yes, that is how mollycoddled he has been. And the strange thing is no one in my family finds it unusual. And we have a long line of culinary-dysfunctional males in the family. Every uncle, every cousin, every single male member has never had to cook or work in the kitchen. Ever.

So I know what you are saying at this point. That it is a problem in my family. A strange familial malfunction. But the fact is I have seen this same problem in almost all Bong male friends. Take P for example. All his life P has never had to fend for himself because Momma always took care of him. And then P decided to step out of his known territory. He came to the US for higher education. And P learnt that Momma wasn't around to prepare food anymore. So what would any normal person do in this case? They'd learn to cook and feed himself, right? But not P. He found a place where they sold Indian food and started having lunch and dinner over there. And P was quite proud of his ability to prepare the occasional Ramen noodles (if you can call that preparing). And it was exactly the same for A and S and D and AD. Eat out every day and have instant noodles when they were in a "cooking" sort of mood. That is until they got married. A-ha! You did notice that this entire generalization was against the unmarried kind (save the exceptions from another generation like my Dad).

Once these malfunctioning men get married things start changing. A little. They start learning new things. That the kitchen is not meant for the woman alone. And that a little help goes a long way (and I will refrain from elaborating here). And that cooking isn't all that difficult to begin with. And may be once in a while it can even be fun. So they start with cutting and slicing and doing the dishes to watching the milk so that it doesn't boil over and move on to more technically challenging things like following a recipe and preparing food. I have seen a newly wed Bong guy trying to impress the missus with an "apple" curry where he chopped up potatoes and apples (for the lack of any other available vegetable) and got dinner together before his wife came home from work. Needless to say the wife was very specific about the kind of help she desired the next time she asked him to cook anything. But Bong men learn fast. And one guy who tried to substitute cooking oil with cream cheese, cooked chicken in it and ended up with a charred, half-cooked mess that no one would eat, can now boast of making the best chinese food this side of the Atlantic.

So what is it about marriage that makes the guy want to wear the apron? Is it the desire to help the wife with household chores? Is it a new-found interest that they inherit along with the wedding band? Is it the fact that they have a person who will endure all culinary experiments and appreciate every effort? Or is the desire to survive the "unable to cook" reputation that is almost as unpalatable as the one with Bong nicknames.

So please bear with me while I wipe away tears of laughter when I hear an unmarried Bong guy say he makes the best Biriyani and Chicken chaap.

* bongoshontan son of Bengal
** Bong Bengali

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Blogger Kausum said...

Is this a revenge blog? Looks like that!

Btw, I will just comment the following, which was once commented not long ago by yours truly.

"Aww come on now.....that is being just downright unfair. You cannot just generalize like that."

and to the answer to your question abt what happens after marriage to again quote you

"The trick is to get him to cook for someone he cares about. Then he'll put his heart and soul into it."

Looks like you have not met the right kind of guys. Btw, if an unmarried guy cannot cook, would he be doing it at the critical juncture of "girl pataoing, impression creating and show- off involved" Wouldnt that actually have a reverse effect, or are you saying that guys cook well, but they dont want too ... Looks like a logical flaw.

Is it a stereotypical image that Bong guys cannot cook and they are guilty unless proven to be innocent by giving sufficient evidence? And you want a fair hearing to an unfair trial! Wow!

12:54 PM  
Blogger Kele Panchu said...

Very funny but not entirely true. I know many bong single guys who can cook very well. You said men become better cooks after getting married. It's just the oppsosite in my case. I thought I was a good cook (compared to my other room mates, of course) before getting married. I loved to experiment with ingredients. Once I put lima beans instead of peas in 'khichDi' and that was my last day in Panchuginni's kitchen. She even tolerated my lemon grass in 'sorshe ilish' but lima-beans were fatal! Of course I've become a better dish-washer after marriage, if you count that a part of cooking.
Whatever you've said in your fourth para is true. This is true not just for Bong men, I think this is universal. Most Bong men learn to cook only for survival. My father had Saturdays off, and my mom had to go to work. That was the only day my father cooked fish, and we hated it! Of course there are few who love to cook. I'm not one of them. :)

1:25 PM  
Blogger Rohini said...

I think that is not just the Bong male gene but also the Indian male gene. Atleast the Bong men improve after marriage...

1:39 PM  
Blogger Rimi said...

And that a little help goes a long way (and I will refrain from elaborating here)


Although, apart from my uncles, who after all belong to 'other' families, all men in my family (including my dad) can cook RATHER well. Oh well, exceptions prove the rule, I suppose :-)

1:47 PM  
Blogger Sanjay said...

Well commenting as a non-Bong.

There are single men who can cook. I know a couple they are not Bongs.

I had done a bit before I met *A* also the kitchen in India was mom's domain, but it was coming to the US and being here on my own for a couple of yrs that sort of got me into cooking.

But once *A* and I got together was when it was really fun. Cooking for us, the fact that it relaxed me (not to mention the glass of wine made me feel very intellectual like) helped too.

Also I found out how much I loved it and that it let us get closer to each other. It also helped that *A* with her long hours appreciated the help and that beign together does not always mean having well defined and/or gender specific roles. It also means redefining certain things again, for if a relationship is not mutable what's the fun?

I always appreciate that my cooking has an audience but it's not done to impress anyone. Wooing *A* and being able or not being able to cook was not a factor.
Anyways that was my 2 cents.

3:20 PM  
Blogger vuttaa said...

on the dispute
"O HORI !!", ey ki shuni
ranna niye koch-kochani !?!

To Fongs (Female Bongs)
bongO Naari jeno khoonti,
ghNete-ghNute tobei shanti!!

..and the declaration
manchi nAA aar ei obichar :)
holam nAA tor Pressure(d) cooker!!!

3:49 PM  
Blogger fallenangel said...

khuub bhalo diyechho...
so very true..but i wud put in mals nd a few others too in this category..
one more u think tat bongs are the laziest...shobaee etayi bole??

4:36 PM  
Blogger Terri said...

In my household, marriage cannot take credit for the other half's infrequent forays into the kitchen - only Rachel Ray can.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Seashells said...

LOL... assuming that the stereotypes hold, i now understand why my ability to dish earned me some extra brownie points... and perhaps an apron in the future...

6:32 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

Ehehehehehheee. I know the variety you chotomama cannot boil an alu even though he lived alone for many years. He prefers to eat out if there is no food at home. But then there is my Dad, who makes extremely nice (albeit a little oily) food. I love his chicken curry. And you know,at one point Rahul knew how to cook basic sabzi and rice while I didnt know how to even peel a potato. Things have of course changed since then, but he can manage on his own. Though of course he isnt Bong!

1:32 AM  
Blogger Priya said...

Maantey parlum niko! One of my male friends (single and desperate to mingle ;)) is an excellent cook and can russle up Indian, Chinese, Thai and conti meals, not just one off dishes. And NO, he isn't a hotel management passout, he's a star journo! Have a couple pf other male friends who are superb cooks, but of course N shuns the kitchen like the AIDS:P He's happy to be the gourmand :)

2:33 AM  
Blogger Chilla-Bong said...

M,this is a case of bad generalization.Bong men cannot cook when they are cosy and comfortabe with their family in Bongland and ofcourse the momma toiling in the kitchen.But once they are on their own, I would say they become some of the best cooks compared to the non-Bong guys.That happens irrespective of marriage.Infact what I saw was Bong girls accquire their cooking skills fast after marriage.A cousin of mine,whose cooking skills was limited to boiling instant noodles in hot water, went onto become one of the best cooks in the greater family. But knowing that the teachings came from my bro-in-law,I can again vouch for the fact Bongo-sontans living out of Bong-land are really good cooks.

5:59 AM  
Blogger spiderman! said...

ja likhecho sheta thik...specially aager generation er khetre ar jara bari r baire kokhono thakeni...ota hole upai neyi...ranna kortei hobe...specially jodi option gulo sambar ar rasam hoy :)

6:39 AM  
Blogger Vidi said...

Very accurate observation. I don't know if it's just Bong men, but it certainly fits most men I know.

I've been reading your blog for quite some time now, and I love it! And finally, I have a blog too. Please drop by if you can :-)

8:23 AM  
Blogger Rohan Kumar said...

I think I will leave it upto Sagnik and Co. to defend their name and honor ;)

8:50 AM  
Blogger jhantu said...

M M dear M, you have done it now. The unmarried bong guy has been given the khocha that will now spark the rise from his slumber. Now you shall feel the wrath of the timid, soft-spoken, stay-as-far-away-as-possible-from-panga bong unmarried guy. The battle lines have been drawn.

Cooking-to-impress-bongo-naris and bad mouthing our sacred biriyanis as well. Sacrilege!!!

1:20 PM  
Blogger jhantu said...

M M dear M, you have done it now. The unmarried bong guy has been given the khocha that will now spark the rise from his slumber. Now you shall feel the wrath of the timid, soft-spoken, stay-as-far-away-as-possible-from-panga bong unmarried guy. The battle lines have been drawn.

Cooking-to-impress-bongo-naris and bad mouthing our sacred biriyanis as well. Sacrilege!!!

1:21 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

i agree with chilla-bong -- it's not marriage, but the need to eat well that prompts bong men to start cooking their asses off. this normally happens when they move away from home. the trip to the US, for instance. i know i never had any real motivation to cook until i started missing the food i loved.

and my father's an awesome cook (slurp) :-D

5:40 PM  
Blogger Prerona said...

hey! i know loads of bong guys who cook - and damn well too! my dad and my bro cook way better than me! and even otherwise, there are loads out there :)

9:54 PM  
Blogger sapna said...

hahahahhahaa! i think the same goes for guys from several other indian states too!!!!!!

11:54 PM  
Blogger Brazen Head said...

true, true. But even now, if I am alone, I much rather walk over to a restaurant and get a meal. Is that so wrrrrrrrrrrrrrong?

3:02 AM  
Blogger Anyesha said...

What you say holds true for women too...specially Bong women. I have known women who didn't know their ladle from their wok but along comes prince charming and they suddenly turn into Rachel Ray's....never could figure that one out.

10:01 AM  
Blogger Arthur Quiller Couch said...

Single. Bong of sorts.
Can cook. DO cook. Though not Bangali food - too messy and time-consuming.
The exception that proves the rule?

1:19 AM  
Blogger Bishu said...

Madame M: Gross generalization.I wud say Bong girls can't cook unless they are forced by circumstance....and so are Bong khokas.But somehow both of them turn out to be good cooks when called for action.That's what's important and all that matters.And in case Mr. M is reading this post, bro take up the challenge and cook something that'll atleast put a post script to the post saying "I was wrong!!". Or else as someone said before it's left to poor Sagnik to defend for the whole Bongo-males. Jaago Bangali purush jaagoo...can u hear the hissing of steaming pressure cooker and the clink-n-clanks of karahi and khuntis !!!
ps:I thought of creating a whole new cooking blog as a befitting answer then thought of redirecting you to another dude.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Sagnik Nandy said...

joghonno opobad. also i realized that opobad ends with bad - so very bad. cheeh cheeh.

4:59 PM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ kausum but of course they are guilty until proven innocent. And yes, they may be able to cook well, given the circumstances. It is more a case of not cooking than being able to cook or not. which is why they can and do cook to impress.
@ kele panchu lima beans in khichdi :)) That must have taken some convincing to eat. And yes there are always exceptions. There are men who will and can cook, before and after marriage. But in general Bong men are plain lazy :) and will not yield to the "khunti" unless forced.
@ rohini :)) not all of them do however :))
@ rimi yes they do. Your family just might be the exception :)
@ sanjay oh I know you can cook :)) given all those recipes that you put up on your blog. And the pictures too. But you're not Bong :)) And this also goes for the Bongs who grew up outside Bengal. they're different too. I guess its the "probasi" thing.
@ vuttaa LOL besh hoyechhe kintu.
@ fallenangel without any doubt :) but selectively lazy. if it comes to things that they like then you should see their enthu and energy.
@ terri three cheers for rachel then ! :)

10:42 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ seashells see.... atleast someone agrees :)
@ ron well as you say rahul is not Bong so we have to leave him out of the equation :)
@ priya :)) like I say there are always exceptions and yes there are the ones who will weild a khunti or two. But look at N and all those others. It's not the "cannot cook" thing but a "will not cook" thing.
@ chilla-bong yes this is generalization but not bad I assure you. And yes though circumstances of fending for themselves have made cooks out of some Bong men, most bangali guys i know would prefer eating out or at a friend's place than having to prepare food himself. And by the way, you know what "cook" means right? I am assuming you do not classiy boiling noodles/ making rice in a rice-cooker/ frying potatoes/ making shedho-bhaat as "cooking".
@ spiderman you know what there are bong males who will eat sambhar and rasam and even rajma week after week and do dishes too, just so that he doesn't have to be the cook in the family of four-grad-students-sharing-an-apartment!
@ vidi hey thanks! and sure will stop by yours too.
@ rohan :)) aren't you glad the title reads "bong". But the Bong men do not rise up to the challenge except a few himpers and mild protests :) And I say they are guilty until they can prove themselves innocent.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Rapid I Movement said...

But the Bong men do not rise up to the challenge except a few himpers and mild protests

**Aghast look**

Royal Bengal-der kNhochano? We can't cook? Botey?
Thikana din. PNawruti toast baaniyey ekkhuni paathiyey dicchi!!!

11:10 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ jhantu my oh my! So you had to repeat yourself twice just to make sure :)) We're prepared, bring it on jhantu!
@ tabula rasa I did mention right at the beginning that bong males will cook only under dire circumstances, the need to eat for example. even then they will explore other options until they find out that there aren't any available.
@ prerona but of course there are many. but there are many many more who will not cook and shy away from cooking. Looks like i need to send the Mukherjees on this end over to the Mukherjees on your end :)
@ pearl well it may be so, but I do not dare say that without knowing it first hand.
@ brazen head hey it ain't wrong. Just making a statement here and glad you stood by it. I rest my case :)
@ anyesha :)) its all about motivation methinks.
@ a.q.c. "Bong of sorts." lol what is that by the way?
And yes exceptions do prove the rule :)
@ bishu well....well... here's another bong purush to the defense. Looks like jhantu and sagnik you have an army of to give you support :) Well I am glad. If my post can propel more bong males into the kitchen well more power to you guys. May be now we can look forward to something more than ramen noodles when we come home from work tired :)
@ sagnik i think you disappoint the trust rohan placed in you :) That comment is quite sufficient proof of how bong males perform in the kitchen :))

11:10 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ r.i.m just missed you there :) And look what we have here. Another "baagher bachha" who's bark is worse than his bite :)) Pawruti toast!!!Is that all you have to defend your culinary skills?
No thanks. You need to do better than that!

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Plotemy said...

I dont think, bong males need to prove anything at all. I think, it may just be a case of 'sour grapes' which has led to a generalization.

11:45 AM  
Blogger vuttaa said...

A fren of mine, on his 20th unsuccessful mission to find a potential bride, was asked by the father-of-the-bride with all the seriousness one could have, "RANNA JANO TOH??". ..and after having all the free mishtis at a "aage-to-khai" type aggression, the guy spilled out almost everything he HAD so far. and soon-after advised me, "The days are changing!!". so, take a note! :)

4:38 PM  
Blogger Shankari said...

lol! was a hilarious read.

6:45 PM  
Blogger Prerona said...

lol! or just send them away from home post high school and let them stay there :)

10:29 PM  
Blogger Perspective Inc. said...


3:09 AM  
Blogger Rapid I Movement said...

M, bhogogan Sri Raamkrishno boliyachilen, prithibi-tey kono kaaj-i choto nohey.

Otoyeb, pNawruti toast banatey paara ja, polao-kaalia banatey para-o tai.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous medha said...

Hi M!!

Saw your message! :)

Yeah, someone "stole" my previous URL. I had to change the URL for some reasons actually. Main one being that mom was reading my blog(which is so not good!). Anyways, my new URL is

1:22 PM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ plotemy sour grapes? :)) hell, no. But you're right. They don't need to prove any thing ;)
@ vuttaa :))so did you take note?
@ shankari and perspective inc. thanks!
@ prero sure, why not :)
@ r.i.m. without demeaning any of the "little jobs" out there, do you honestly believe that? We can all expect buttered toast at your wedding it seems.

3:27 PM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ medha thanks! was wondering :)

3:28 PM  
Blogger Ghetufool said...

bongs are actually smart enough not to show their wives that they can really cook! take for example the man who charred the chicken, don't you think he is a cool intelligent guy?

as for guys who cook, well, what to say. may be their wives are smarter. hope i don't get a smart wife!

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Tanu said...

I would agree with your generalization with a few qualifications. I agree that the men are spoilt by the bong women, who do not want to give up their "domain" in the kitchen to men. But then there are a lot of Bong men who learn to cook when they are on their own.

My dad's case is bizarre. He was a great cook through his adoloscence and his bachelor years away from home. Even used to make chaats and ice cream in a hand churn. But when he got married he asked his sister not to tell my mom that he could cook (dunno why, probably thought that she would make him do all the cooking or something). It was about 20 years down the line that mom heard of this! Even now, dad never cooks when mom is around, no matter what. But if she was out of town, he would treat us kids to the best of delicacies he can dish out, get up early in the morning to pack lunch for us, greet us when we come back from work (our commute was longer than his) with fresh lassi and snacks...

My kid brother, who is still a student, has spent a long time on his own and had learnt the necesary survival skills long ago. Now he has moved on to spaghetti with meatballs and roast chicken. Hope he doesn't ask me to decieve his wife the way my dad asked his sister!

6:20 AM  
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