FANDOM


WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic
File:Lucia cooking.jpg


Robin: Isn't it nice that Raven made us breakfast?

Cyborg: Even though the girl has no clue how to cook... Oops, Did I Say That Out Loud? Yum!

By feminine we mean traditional domestically-focused wife-like roles. Being sexy isn't enough to qualify. You can also lose femininity by becoming overly childish and cute. We are talking a traditionalist grown woman femininity here, The Wife of The Three Faces of Eve. But how do you symbolize an internal trait like femininity? Easy! Use cooking ability as a substitute.

The use of cooking as a symbol of femininity goes back to Biblical times, but whether this trope affects any given instance depends on the time frame, the specific location, the family's class, and even the age of the woman. In Fairy Tales, ability to cook proved that you were a suitable bride for a prince -- trumping even the trivial fact that you were, say, a frog. In 18th and 19th century England, for instance, cooking was a symbol of femininity only for women of the yeoman class (moderately prosperous countrymen), and even then women were only supposed to perform certain delicate duties that couldn't be trusted to servants - distilling herbs and preserving fruit, for instance. Poor women, on the other hand, were not considered to have femininity and were expected to cook for their families whether they wanted to or not, and upper-class women were warned to never set foot in their own kitchens lest the filth, heat, and stink of the room render them 'coarse'. Americans living in the same time frame usually lived in newer homes, so the idea of the kitchen being a place of filth suitable only for drunken cooks and coarse maids never existed. Even the wealthiest women who employed servants or slaves to do the cooking were expected to learn how to cook so they could run their homes more efficiently.

Keep in mind that this trope refers to home cooking, not professional cookery. (Although working in a restaurant may still be counted as one of the Acceptable Feminine Goals depending on how it's presented.) Younger tropers might be surprised to learn that before the 1980s, women were generally not allowed to work as professional chefs. The excuse usually given was that the work was "too physically hard" for women, but in reality the common belief was that although a woman could make an adequate home cook, she could never be a real chef, because being a chef took a certain genius that no woman could possibly ever, ever have. The resistance to women working as professional chefs was so strong that some women who tried ended up having to leave the profession to protect themselves from sexual harassment and violence. Thus Colette in Ratatouille can cook and be a fiery feminist heroine at the same time - as she points out, she has to be a fiery feminist in order to become a chef in that time frame at all.

The use of this symbolism can take many forms.

1: Through His Stomach

Feeding someone is a gesture of affection and generosity, in either a romantic or a maternal situation. She doesn't have to cook it herself, but it adds on when she does. (And bonus points if it's Your Favorite.) People may home in on her through Follow Your Nose.

2: Independent Successful Career Women

In Hollywood, if you are a successful career woman or just a single gal who's making it in the big city somehow, the kitchen is a foreign country. The stove is used to store unused pots and if she can brew a pot of coffee she's lucky. She subsists on takeout, completely ignoring the fact that it's often cheaper to cook for herself.

In older works, a woman's inability to cook was meant to symbolize that by becoming so successful in a man's world, she lost some crucial part of her femininity. That particular bit of Values Dissonance is largely absent in newer works, but it makes the official love interest that much clearer: the heroine will inevitably end up with someone who can cook for her.

Often goes hand-in-hand with the woman being Maternally Challenged.

A less sexist version boils down to the image of successful person (i.e. wealthy and/so with a demanding career) having neither the time or inclination to cook when they can get some one else to do it.

3: Tomboys

Tomboys entertain a special place in perceptions of femininity. They counter their masculinity with a childish innocence, but avoid overly cute aspects that they may be less than comfortable with by acting boyish instead of girly. Everything put together hints that hidden underneath the tomboy Action Girl shell is a Proper Lady waiting to come out. And a Proper Lady Action Girl is hot! (See Lady of War.) Eventually, the tomboy may come to terms with that hidden femininity; until then, a severe lack of cooking skills signals that she still hasn't come in touch with her feminine side, even when she does want to.

4: Take That '50s Housewife

In modern sitcoms it's part of a bigger discrediting of the more sexist characteristics of the 50's Sitcom Wife. The stereotypical '90s Sitcom wife is blunt, closer-to-Earth, Maternally Challenged, and Can't Cook, a complete subversion of the stereotypical '50s Sitcom Wife, who is endearing, motherly, always in the kitchen, and essentially seems to only be there to complement her equally stereotypical Sitcom Dad husband. The subversion works in some places but has eventually become a stereotype in itself.

5: The Brainless Beauty

Her hobby is homewrecking, and her attitude to home cooking is summed up in the words of a famous Wonderbra ad: "I can't cook. Who cares?" This might be interpreted as signaling that homewreckers violate the amity of women, and therefore has lost her femininity (which requires modesty and chaste behavior). However, it's more likely meant to reference the "madonna/whore complex", where men supposedly see women as either nurturing, wholesome homemakers who shouldn't care about sex or as passionate temptresses who shouldn't care about respectability.

"I can't ask her for that. She kisses our children with that mouth."
—from Analyze This

Further symbolic uses:

Cooking as a symbol of femininity is not limited to simple absence. Often a woman who can't cook will go to great effort to improve her cooking skill. This symbolizes her search for femininity and can be a very common Very Special Episode for Tomboy heroines. (For comedy gold use a Lethal Chef and then Hilarity Ensues -- sometimes this even becomes a Running Gag). If she succeeds it's major Character Development. (Particularly likely if she wants to invoke Through His Stomach and can't.)

Failure can sometimes lead to over the top Wangsting, which might be Lampshaded by a male friend pointing out that it's only cooking. This is will sometimes be followed by the woman lampshading this trope and explaining that being unable to cook symbolically makes her less of a woman.

It can also be used in a subversion to show that one of the above female stereotypes is actually feminine after all. A career woman shows up and cooks! Holy cow, you've found the mythical Snipe! Might be a Take That to stereotypes, or it might just be to show how awesome this character is.

Compare the male equivalent Manly Men Can Hunt for traditionally male activities in which modern successful men lose the ability to perform manly abilities as a function of their "sacrifices" for success. Fishing, car repair, hunting, plumbing, carpentry, etc.

Compare also Harp of Femininity, an alternative and somewhat more refined way to emphasize a woman's femininity.

Not to be confused Stay in the Kitchen which, despite its name, isn't exactly related to this trope, although they can overlap.

Examples of Feminine Women Can Cook include:


Anime

  • In Ranma ½, Akane Tendo's utter inability to cook symbolizes her tomboy inner nature, despite her preference for feminine garb. The fact that she desperately wants to learn to cook is a way of showing that she wants to be more feminine, like her idolized older sister Kasumi. Ironically, Wholesome Crossdresser Ukyo's superlative cooking ability (she's a professional chef) is one indication that her inner nature is actually more feminine than dress-loving Akane.
    • It's also hinted that Nabiki Tendo can't cook, and can't be bothered to try, preferring extremely expensive takeout instead. Since she is described as lacking a maiden's heart, the Unfortunate Implications of the first version of this trope seem to be out in the open.
    • And of course, Ranma is also able to cook at least basic meals, despite being a boy who hates being cursed to turn into a girl. His mother (unaware that the redheaded girl is the same person as her son) once compliments "her" cooking and immediately follows up with "You'll make a wonderful wife!" simply because of this skill. Needless to say, Ranma was not amused.
  • Subverted in D.N.Angel: the tomboyish Riku Harada can cook while her girly-girl sister Risa is a bona-fide Lethal Chef.
    • Could be due to their personality. Riku is more hardworking and responsible, Risa is more spoiled and childish (she gets better in the manga though).
  • Aoba in Cross Game is the Tomboy category, while her feminine sister Wakaba can cook quite well
  • Inverted in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. Nanoha, Fate, and Hayate, who are independent, highly destructive Action Girls with glowing military careers, are all revealed in supplementary material to be good cooks in their own right. The Lethal Chef of the series? Why, it's the Team Mom White Magician Girl, Shamal, of course!
    • Justified since Nanoha's parents own a bakery and she's been helping around household chores from season 1, while Hayate used to be a crippled girl living on her own, and the first episodes of A's shows her cooking, while in wheelchairs. Fate, meanwhile, is revealed in one of the manga chapters to have been taught how to cook by Linith, Precia's Catgirl familiar who raised her before the events of Nanoha.
    • Shamal often helps Hayate with the cooking, and in the first A's Sound Stage, Hayate notes that she's getting better at it.
  • Orihime Inoue from Bleach has both tomboyish and girlish traits and can cook... supposedly. Being a Cloudcuckoolander and an Extreme Omnivore, her meals consist of so many strange combinations, nobody is really willing to try her food to actually find if its good or not.
    • According to Tessai and Matsumoto, she's a good cook. According to Hitsugaya, Matsumoto's just as bad for basically the same reason.
    • On the other hand, after the last timeSkip Orihime has a part-time job in a bakery and so far hasn't been kicked out of it.
  • In Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer, the anime in particular, cute lead character Misaki is an excellent cook and is told that she'll make a good bride someday. Her tomboyish and violent best friend, Kizaki Tamayo, begins to get jealous of her ability when it looks like Misaki will win the boy they both like, Koutarou: he loves Misaki's food, but Tamayo can't even crack an egg right. In an odd twist, this is expanded upon much more in the version in which Tamayo *does* win, and barely glossed over in the one where she loses.
  • Possibly parodied a bit in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, where the girly girl Nia becomes a sort-of The Minnesota Fats for the local Cool Big Sis Yoko since she's good at almost everything... until the Beach Episode shows that Nia is a horrid cook.
    • Although her Love Interest Simon genuinely likes her cooking, even if no one else does.
      • In one of the spin off manga, it's shown Kamina would have loved her food too. So who knows, maybe its food fit for only the manliest of men/women.
  • In Sailor Moon, tomboy Makoto (AKA Sailor Jupiter) is the easily the best cook of the group. A Manga sidestory that focuses on her shows she cooks and does house work when stressed or depressed, even if it stops more important things like studying for entrance exams. Because of suggestions it ultimately relates to her femininity complex, this aspect is reinterpreted in some adaptations as having a professional interest in running restaurant.
  • Rosetta Passel from Kaleido Star is shown as an absolute disaster at the kitchen and housekeeping, since she's practically lived on tour her whole life and has rarely had the chance to experience what a true home life is. She gets a bit better with Sora's help. On the other hand, the initially very childish and immature May Wong is an excellent chef.
  • Subverted with Tokine from Kekkaishi. Despite her being publicly known as a Yamato Nadeshiko and having a mother who knows how to cook well, her attempts at cooking have all ended in failure.
    • Probably falls under that note for type 2s, as her Love Interest is literally a baking otaku, and is probably at least competent at cooking non-sweet foods.
  • Fiery Redhead Shana in Shakugan no Shana can't cook, nor can Ninja Maid Wilhelmina.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena subverted this as well - Anthy Himemiya, despite being extremely feminine, is a Lethal Chef whose cooking is so terrible it actually explodes. Then causes people to switch bodies.
    • It's pretty obvious she did that one on purpose to mess with people - under that demure exterior is enough frustration and passive-aggressive malice to power a small town, due t her horrifying past and her current role as the Rose Bride that forces her into a passive Damsel in Distress role. Normally she fulfils this trope to tee, being essentially in charge of cooking and cleaning in Utena's dorm and despite of only two people living there, repeatedly produces veritable feasts for dinner. She does have a strange obsession of considering shaved ice real food, though, and it's implied that she generally concentrates on snacks in her cooking. With the show being what it is, it's probably symbolic of something.
      • Actually, shaved ice with fruit and sweet toppings (aka kakigori) is considered a very well-loved summer snack in Japan and other Asian countries like Korea (patbingsu), China (baobing), Taiwan (tsuabing), Philippines (halo halo), etc.
  • In Paradise Kiss, Isabella is constantly feeding everyone her exquisite traditional Japanese dishes. Coupled with her extremely feminine, motherly and caring demeanor, she's the closest the series gets to a Yamato Nadeshiko... apart from some embarrassing biological details.
    • Truth in Television to some extent; if you're trying to prove you're really a woman in spite of your anatomy, learning to be good at doing traditionally feminine things can help. Cooking qualifies.
  • In Tori Koro, Yae is the only one in the three main girls who can cook (and only thing she can do good, she's bad at both physically (except baseball) and academically), provoking ire from others that she's more feminine than them.
  • Yukime from Hell Teacher Nube dreams of cooking delicious meals to her love interest, Nube, and when he can't enjoy them (since they're frozen solid, her being a Yuki-onna and all) she's upset at her own lack of skill more than his own refusal.
    • Likewise Kyoko, a fifth-grader who is very much assured of herself and often has to bail out her friends or teacher from great danger, but desperately wants to be able to cook well. At least, cook well enough for Hiroshi to enjoy. When she was (somehow...) finally able to, she was happy to the point of tears.
  • Aversion: In Azumanga Daioh, when Chiyo-chan goes out shopping and reveals that not only does she cook for her family, but she cooks very well, it's to reinforce the fact that she's pretty much perfect instead of her femininity (even if Nyamo asks her to marry her just for this.)
    • You can't really say anything about Chiyo's femininity since she's only like 10 and even then she is still more feminine than the entire cast. She just happens to be good at everything except physical activities due to her age and size.
  • In Chrono Crusade, the Hot-Blooded Rosette can't cook. In a flashback, Chrono is shown foaming at the mouth when he first tries one of Rosette's cookies. Later, she's shown to have improved enough that her food is edible, but it still looks disgusting. In comparison, Fiore's cooking is to die for, and in the anime Azmaria and Chrono (of all people!) are both shown to be good cooks, as well.
  • The Wallflower: Sunako is an excellent cook, at least with Japanese food, and it's one of the big signs that she really is Beautiful All Along and Feminine All Along.
  • Shimura Tae from Gintama can be considered a subversion of the Type 3 variant of this trope; she definitely fits the bill chararacter-wise, although she capriciously vaults back and forth in between feminine innocense and tomboyish wrath whenever somebody offends her or impinges upon her privacy. She has repeatedly stated to only know how to boil eggs, and even then the resulting product is always a blackened and inedible pulp much to the chagrin of the people she was cooking for. As a result of this Running Gag, her younger and quite a bit more Yamato Nadeshiko-like brother Shinpachi usually does the cooking in her household.
  • In Hayate the Combat Butler Hinagiku is shown as a wonderful cook despite her Tomboy exterior. Her attempts to bring attention to her ability symbolizes her trying to show her feminine side more.
    • Hayate is an even better cook and continually shown to be a very feminine boy.
      • Both Hinagiku and Hayate are shown to be hyper-qualified at everything they do. Maria also is depicted the same way. So good cooking ability plays into that as well.
    • Nagi however is shown to be a Lethal Chef- another clue that she's a Tomboy and still too immature to be a woman (and therefor at a disadvantage in her romantic pursuits).
  • Type 2 is beautifully averted in Saiunkoku Monogatari: Shuurei, the protagonist, is the first ever woman politician in her country, and she is an excellent cook. Her red bean buns in particular are much loved by the other characters.
  • In Ai Kora, tomboyish Ninja girl Kirino is revealed to be an excellent cook.
  • As seen above, Sumire from Venus Versus Virus. The slightly older Gothic Loli Lucia however could not cook well until Sumire taught her. Another variation that appears is that Sumire has a liking for flower arrangement.
  • In one episode of Nerima Daikon Brothers, Mako goes to see a famous fortune teller, who asks her to make something from a plate of cocktail weenies. She then rejects Mako's Weenie Eiffel Tower, telling her that "a girl who can't even do a lick of cooking will die tomorrow," and that she'll only become a woman when she can cook, clean, and do the laundry.
    • The character was based on Kazuko Hosoki, an actual famous fortune teller, who had very conservative views on gender roles.
  • Wandering Son's protagonist is quite good at baking, though he's not shown to do any other sort of cooking besides that; he's also very feminine and identifies as a girl. His female peers aren't nearly as good at baking.
  • Bakuretsu Hunters has a fun example that fits with Tira's being somewhat offbeat: she's clumsy when she has to cook by conventional means, cutting her fingers and turning vegetables into rubble. But when she's allowed to "transform" and do it her own way, her prep is flawless.
  • A Rare Male Example occurs in Saint Beast where an already very effeminate character has his effeminacy further established by being the natural cook in his circle of friends.
  • Real Bout High School (the anime version) has an episode where Ryoko and another girl compete to make lunch for the boy they have a crush on.
  • Toyed with in Oniisama e.... On one hand, the Yamato Nadeshiko Nanako is a Supreme Chef and The Ladette Kaoru is a Lethal Chef. On the other, the Tomboy Tomoko is just as good of a cook as Nanako is.
  • Subverted in The Prince of Tennis, where the Supreme Chef among Tomoka and Sakuno is... the tomboyish Tomoka. It's not that Sakuno is bad at the kitchen, but Tomoka is specifically mentioned to be the best of the two. (Somewhat justified since Tomoka has a partial Promotion to Parent to deal with: she learned to cook out of the necessity to take care of her two much younger brothers.)

Comic Books

  • Averted in an issue of JLA Classified written by Gail Simone, where Wonder Woman presents the other members of the JLA with a traditional Themyscrian pastry. Flash and Green Lantern are more than a little panicked at the thought that Wonder Woman bakes... and shocked by the tasty results.
    • Which leads to a Crowning Moment of Funny when Batman, after a grim monologue, turns and says "Diana, Alfred will need that recipe."
    • A weirder aversion in Young Justice, in which Artemis, Diana's counterpart from the more savage Amazons, reveals she can cook during Wonder Girl's Training From Hell. There's nothing feminine about it though...

 Artemis: We eventually proved ourselves to our elders by making them a feast from the eighteen eyes of a slain hydra.

Cassie: Oh, perfect. I can't even reheat mac and cheese.

  • Depending on the Writer, Lois Lane is a Type 2.
  • In Archie Comics, Veronica subverts this by being a notoriously bad cook who couldn't boil water in a blast furnace. Furthermore, any boy who is pressured to eat what she prepares is usually convinced they are about to commit suicide.

Fairy Tales

 In a short time the frog leaped out of the fireplace, jumped over to the doors, and all around the room. Seeing no one there, it went back and took off the frog's skin, put it near the fire, and came forth a beautiful maiden, fair as the sun; so lovely was she that the man could not imagine anything prettier. In the twinkling of an eye she had tidied everything, prepared the food, and cooked it. When everything was ready, she went to the fire, put on the skin again, and began to croak.

Film

  • Woman of the Year spends much of the movie showing how Katharine Hepburn's female reporter is the intellectual equal (or even superior) of Spencer Tracy's male reporter. The last scene in the movie is of Hepburn trying to make waffles but failing spectacularly, indicating that by being so successful in the "man's world" (the movie was released in 1942), she's basically rendered helpless in the "woman's world."
  • Film Always. Air-traffic controller Dorinda Durston wants to have a man over for dinner. She has to buy a pre-cooked meal and pretends that she prepared it herself.
  • Lara Croft in Tomb Raider (the movie) even screws up reheating a ready meal in a microwave.
  • Eowyn in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings is shown to be a horrible cook by Aragorn's wordless expression when she attempts to make stew for him (matching at least two trope variants, since Eowyn is not at all happy in a medieval woman's role and she has an unrequited crush on Aragorn). It probably helps that she's highborn, so she probably has servants for cooking, and she's traveling with minimal equipment.

Literature

  • Cathy Ryan, a minor character from the Tom Clancy novels, is a good example. A full-time doctor, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins, and an award-winning researcher, she still nonetheless takes great pride in her gourmet chef abilities (her potato salad is apparently to die for). It has been suggested within the books themselves that the reason she is so good at it is because cooking, being the application of proper ingredients, time, and preparation, appeals to her meticulous nature.
  • Though she's not portrayed as particularly gifted, Catti-brie Battlehammer of the Drizzt novels, for much of her life a tomboyish Action Girl, can at least make enjoyable road stew. Though it's implied that, like many other of her useful skills beyond "sharp wit", Drizzt, a ranger used to surviving in the wild, taught her how.
  • Subversion: Robert A. Heinlein, in one novel, had a character note: "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
    • That was in Time Enough For Love, and another note by Lazarus read: "Don't store garlic near other victuals," suggesting he knows his way around a kitchen. However, we never see him cooking, and food is rarely mentioned except when he complains that a (female) slave he bought "couldn't cook worth a damn."
  • Possibly invoked, but ultimately averted with Polgara of The Belgariad. She can cook, masterfully, and she at least pays lip service to the idea that she, as a woman, is better off manipulating events subtly and behind the scenes. The events of Polgara the Sorceress, however, prove that she's just as willing as her father Belgarath to flat-out strongarm people (or an entire nation) into doing what she wants, and she's almost as proficient as him at it, to boot.
    • Then again, played straight (on the "Rich people can't cook" variant) with Ce'Nedra. She's not quite a Lethal Chef, but almost.
      • It gets better. Garion, the protagonist, is probably a passable cook, just by virtue of being raised in a kitchen and watching his aunt Pol at work. He knows how to cook bacon over an open flame and not burn it, at least.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Mara Jade tries to give Luke a taste of home by cooking a Tatooine dish. She, of course, screws it up. Luke, perhaps for the sake of her feelings (or just to escape her rage), tells her that it smells just like he remembers; and that he really wanted to leave Tatooine because of the food.
    • This one's become a bit of a Running Gag in fanfic, particularly among Luke/Mara shippers.
  • Parodied in the Discworld novel Jingo, where confused crossdresser Nobby Nobbs believes he's expected to do the cooking because he's a woman. To make it even sillier, there is an actual woman present, but Sergeant Angua "doesn't do cookery" (She's an Independent Career Woman. She's also a vegetarian werewolf, who prefers to avoid the smell of meat in human form.)
  • Louisa May Alcott was very fond of this trope. The scenes putting Jo March through the 'feminine redemption for the tomboy' version in LW were repeated in several other of Alcott's novels and short stories, as her heroines contemplate taking up a profession and are firmly told that the most honourable profession for any woman is to make a happy, comfortable home for her family. There is however a semi-subversion in Eight Cousins -- while this is specifically tied to the small heroine learning to bake the perfect loaf of bread, it's presented as only one aspect of an education that also involves learning to sail, ride and generally become 'strong-minded', right alongside her seven boy cousins.
  • Molly Carpenter from The Dresden Files is committed to getting Harry Dresden healthier, by cooking healthy meals for him. Unfortunately, though she can make a mean cup of coffee, a chef she ain't.

  Harry: Once she burned my egg. My boiled egg. I have no idea how.

  • In Belisarius Series Lady Sanga is so good a cook that the absence of onions at the place she was supposedly murdered makes her husband wonder if she really was murdered. In her case she was an aristocrat and didn't need to cook or even do much of anything. She just loved cooking.
  • In John C. Wright's Chronicles of Chaos, Vanity (the more feminine of the two girls), can barely make coffee, and the less said about her "hamburger" the better. However, Amelia notes that whatever she does make tends to taste delicious anyway.
  • In the Mercy Thompson novels, Mercy is a Volkswagon mechanic who dresses in grubby T-shirts, snarks off incessantly to every macho-male she encounters, and devours small furry animals when she turns into a coyote. The one "girly" thing she does is to bake lots of cookies or brownies.
  • In L. M. Montgomery's Jane of Lantern Hill, Jane takes to cooking like a duck to water, feeding both herself and her father though she was never allowed to cook before. She does prudently buy a cookbook first, and donuts defeat her.
  • An Invoked Trope in Someone Elses War, where the very sexist Lord's Resistance Army leaves cooking up to the girls and lets the boys do everything else.


Live Action TV

  • Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter Rory subsist on junk food, diner food and takeout. Rory is shown cooking twice in the whole series and both times a larger point about how either she is becoming adrift in a sea of privilege or showing how unfitting a life of domesticity would be for her. Lorelai ended the series with Luke, a diner owner.
    • Although Lorelai is an incompetent cook, she is an excellent seamstress and can whip up a fancy dress in under a week.
  • Carrie Bradshaw is lucky if she can brew a pot of coffee. Thankfully all her major love interests know their way around the kitchen.
  • In the Law & Order: SVU episode "Competence," Alex Cabot, the assistant DA, mentions having set her stove on fire.
    • That's more of a "everyone has accidents" thing, she had said it because an attorney tried to use setting a stove on fire as a reason to show that a woman with Down's Syndrome is incompetent to raise a child.
  • Tyler, Wendy's new boyfriend on The Middleman, cooks for her.

 "Lacey let me in. Don't worry, I only spent the first ten minutes digging through your underwear drawer. Now I'm testing your oven."

"We have an oven?"

"It's the big metal box where you keep the extra paint."

    • She returns the favor to him in "The Palindrome Reversal Palindrome" when she cooks a few...Hot Pockets.
  • Lois in Lois and Clark can't cook... as shown in one episode, at the end of which she inherits cookery talent from the ghost of a disgruntled housewife who possessed her. Cookery is never mentioned again.
    • Isn't that where I got the line "I only know three recipes, and this is the only one that doesn't involve chocolate."?
  • In an early Stargate SG-1 episode, Samantha Carter states that she couldn't cook to save her life. However, in another episode several years later, she mentions that she makes "a mean soufflé", providing further evidence that the former episode never happened.
    • "I cook a mean souffle" is a Stock Phrase joke. It doesn't at all mean she can cook.
  • Averted once by Thirty Rock. Liz is generally depicted as the independent-career-gal-living-off-fast-food type, but there was one episode ("The C Word") in which she baked cupcakes for the writers (and they apparently turned out all right).
  • On Friends Rachel cannot cook at all - it is suggested due to her pampered, privileged background - but Monica can, and is a professional chef. Both are career women living in the city.
    • Joey loved Rachel's 'traditional' trifle. With beef.
  • Debra of Everybody Loves Raymond fulfills Type 4; she's a traditional stay-at-home mom who happens to cook badly. Of course, it's probably not quite as bad as her mother-in-law makes it out to be, but it's pretty bad.
  • Former Borg drone Seven of Nine takes up cooking in the final season of Star Trek: Voyager as a symbol of her progression towards humanity. Captain Janeway on the other hand can never get the hang of her food replicator, even to make a decent cup of much-beloved coffee.
  • On Chef, Janice Blackstock can't cook. But it's okay, because she's married to the best chef in England the world. Because she manages the restaurant, she is closest to the Career Woman type, although at no point is her inability to cook seen negating her femininity (although Gareth makes fun of her for it once). Interestingly, the most "feminine" character on the whole show, Renee, was completely useless at cooking, while prim and proper Lucinda and slightly masculine Savannah were both brilliant cooks.
  • Starbuck can cook, as seen in Daybreak.
  • Ria, in seventies Britcom Butterflies, who was an early Type 4.
  • Lisa Douglas from Green Acres is a perfect example of type 5, a socialite who has never cooked a decent (or edible) meal, yet is oblivious to her lack of culinary prowess.
  • On one episode of Just Shoot Me, Nina is asked to cook a meal for a congressman she's dating. (She was auditioning for a stuffing commercial, long story.) An aging former model who's never been on a kitchen her adult life, she has to ask Maya for help over the phone. Maya has been seen hosting a dinner in at least one episode, and although no comments, good or bad, are ever made about her cooking, it can be assumed that she's at least a competent cook, possibly subverting type 2.
  • Played with in Firefly. In Our Mrs. Reynolds, Mal's almost painfully submissive new wife Saffron turns out to be a fabulous cook. Zoe is not amused when Saffron suggests she cook for her husband, and is even less amused when Wash drools over Saffron's cooking. However, in War Stories, a rather touching scene has Zoe cooking for Wash after he leads the charge to rescue Mal.

  "Mmmmmm. Wife soup."

  • Played with in Legend of the Seeker. Cara is chopping wood while Kahlan gathers it, and she chides Zedd and Richard for fussing over the food while the women chop and gather wood. Zedd answers that on a team, every member of the team should perform according to their abilities...and considering Cara's last attempt at cooking, she should stick to chopping.
  • Used to a remarkable extent in Kyle XY, despite both parents working. During a period when the mother of the family Nicole isn't cooking the rest of them don't even seem to consider the possibility that maybe someone else could cook, subsisting entirely on takeout food.
  • Apparently, Peg Bundy is a pretty decent cook; she just never actually wants to and is so lazy that a packet of Jiffy Pop (that expired 3 years prior) is what she uses to celebrate. On the odd occasion that she actually puts any effort into it, she cranks out some world-class meals.
  • Averted and Lampshaded on Frasier. Daphne, the sweet, caring, maternal, capable, very feminine Heart is, surprisingly, such an appalling cook that the badness of her cooking and the repulsiveness of her recipes is a Running Gag and transcends mere badness and becomes a kind of awesomeness. However, Daphne believes she is this trope, and is oblivious to her lack of talent until Niles, as part of an effort to prove how much he loves her, kicks off his list of her flaws with a gleeful "To be honest, I don't much care for your cooking. In fact, you can't cook at all." which strikes her dumb with astonishment.
    • This could also be a joke on British cuisine, which in the US is mocked almost as much as British Teeth.

Tabletop Games

  • Traveller : In the Sword Worlds the "Hearthfire" is a sacred Archetype and a symbol of security and domesticity. A proud male warrior or worker "guards" the Hearthfire, but his wife Tends it. In a way they hold this to mean she is a quasi-priestess merely by being a woman.

Theatre

  • In Of Thee I Sing, Wintergreen isn't too keen on marrying Diana Devereaux or any of the other Beauty Contest girls, since he doubts their ability to cook: "Why, the average girl today can't cook--she can't even broil an egg." Mary insists that she can cook, and introduces him to her corn muffins, which go Through His Stomach straight to his heart.
  • In On the Town, Hildy claims she can cook, but the bill of fare she presents to Chip consists of Double Entendres served up in a List Song. She does, with great effort, manage to prepare one specialty: a peeled banana.
  • In The Golden Apple, Miss Minerva bakes a seven-layer cake for the fair "just to prove I'm feminine." But Lovey Mars takes along her mincemeat pie and Mrs. Juniper brings her prize-winning angel-food cake. And then old Mother Hare appears and offers her Apple of Discord to the most feminine of them all, for confectionery values of femininity.

Video Games

  • Raine Sage in Tales of Symphonia is a teacher, the sole parental figure for her kid brother, and a notoriously bad cook.
    • Subversion: in the same game, Sheena is one of the best cooks the party has, especially regarding familial recipes (she gets this as a title: "the culinary master who raised home-style cooking to the highest level"), yet she's a Tsundere tomboyish Action Girl. However, the deviation from the trope is lampshaded in one scene where Handsome Lech Zelos calls her on it:

 Sheena: Oh, well. It's fun to cook every now and then. I wouldn't want to get out of practice.

Zelos: Oh, Sheena, what does that mean? You practicing your cooking for when you get married? I didn't expect to hear that from you of all people!

Sheena: N...no, it's not that! Sheesh!

    • It turns out that Marta in the sequel, Dawn of the New World, Marta can't cook either. In fact, when Sheena joins the party, a skit shows Emil crying from happiness because he never found a woman who could cook before Sheena.
      • Of course, Emil is a wonderful cook (and has a habit of sculpting food into intricate shapes), and he's easily the most (or second most, after Colette) effeminate character in the game. Partly subverted, since Ratatosk Emil cooks just as well (though his food looks worse).
        • In the first Tales of Symphonia, there is actually a skit that lampshades the aversion. Lloyd notices that Regal is a vastly superior cook to Raine, and Regal says that more men are good at cooking because of their physical strength. In the same skit he says women are more equipped to fighting.
    • This is a habit in the Tales series. The main character is always good at cooking. The main heroine is almost always a bad cook. Then the second woman in the party (like Sheena) is either good at cooking, or neutral. It's usually done to get some laughs at how bad the heroine's cooking is.
      • In Tales of the Abyss this trope is tendency is played around with. Luke is a mediocre to bad cook with a somewhat exotic taste, while Tear (the main heroine) is a good cook (albeit she cooks roughly like guy would as she was taught by her brother Van). Anise is the best cook in the game, and is the second woman to join you. Natalia, meanwhile, is quite possibly the worst cook in the party, as there is a skit in which she tries to heal a burning soup and she repeatedly burns her dishes beyond recognition. Asch is noted to be a surprisingly good chef, in contrast to Luke.
      • In Tales of Phantasia, the heroine Mint is a wonderful cook and quite praised for her skills. Arche, on the other hand, has made people faint with her cooking in multiple games. The main girl of Tales of Eternia is also a wonderful cook, though she's not quite as feminine as Mint.
      • In Tales of Legendia has Mimi the source of the recipes in the game.
  • Played straight in Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots. Sunny is taught how to cook by Naomi, and it eventually becomes a plot point. Sunny uses Raiden to deliver a coded culinary message indicating she'd attacked the Patriots.
    • Exaggerated by Rose in Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty, who is the perfect girlfriend, but a terrible cook. However, she's a Patriot spy who modified her entire personality to fit Raiden's profile of the ideal woman, and her bad cooking is the one chink in her armour.
  • Inverted in Persona 4 the two traditionally feminine girls Yukiko and Rise, and the more tomboyish Chie, can't cook at all (well Rise can, but only if you're a fire eater like her). At the end they manage to bake an edible cake only by getting the help of Naoto Shirogane, and even Naoto notes that it took them three tries. Also the male Hero is noted as being an excellent cook. It's also implied Ai cannot cook either when she remarks that it would be nice to end up with a guy who can cook after eating food prepared by The Hero.
  • Played with in Harvest Moon. Ann, a tomboy, cannot cook well in her first appearence. Come its successor port and she's one of the best cooks in the game.
    • Eli is rather feminine, and is a baker.
  • And again its sequel Aoi Shiro. The Tomboy protagonist Syouko --the captain of the kendo team and the object of admiration of her underclassgirls-- can cook as well as the very feminine Yasumi, who has serious crush on her. Kind of making through-her-stomach strategy unviable.
  • Living up to her first name, Flora Reinhold of the Professor Layton series is about as feminine as you can get: always wearing dresses, being polite and soft-spoken, and even being a Distressed Damsel at one point. And, according to the games' ending credits, she cannot cook but seems to like to anyway.

Visual Novels

  • Sakura in Fate Stay Night learned to cook to appeal to Shirou. One of her primary goals seems to be to outdo him at cooking and she gets a little antsy if she fails. Her unpleasant backstory drove away most of her feminine traits. And also most of her human ones.... But she's (a bit) better by the time the story starts. Except in Heaven's Feel where those quick flashes of insecurity or jealousy she had in the previous two routes, coupled with the shards of the corrupted Grail that Zouken's implanted into her cause her to go totally insane (eventually). She recovered, fortunately.
    • Saber could count as a type 2 since she pretty much takes the cake in terms of being successful in a "man's world" in addition to being one of the powerful character in the series. It makes sense that she's doesn't know how cook, in fact it would be more strange if she did know how to. As such she depends on Shirou to cook for her, made more noticeable by the fact that she's a Big Eater.
  • Arcueid from Tsukihime can count as a type 2 or arguably type 5. She is not brainless but she is an airhead due to her empirical ignorance about the modern world or the world in general. She also happens to be pretty much the strongest thing on the entire planet (ORT don't count). Regardless, she has perfectly good reasons why she can't cook and depends on her love interest Shiki to cook for her, who is not an amazing cook but is good enough. She probably enjoys the fact that he cooks for her more than the actual cooking themselves anyway.
  • Touko in Suika learned to cook specifically to appeal to Yoshikazu. Sayaka is also going for this and is apparently a competent cook, but Souji is just better.
  • Played with in Girls Love Visual Novel Akai Ito. The protagonist Kei is the most stereotypically-feminine amongst the female cast, but her cooking can only be described as biohazard. The Ladette Sakuya usually end up cooking for her.


Webcomics

  • Marsha from College Roomies from Hell massively subverts this. While she can have some pretty big Yandere qualities, she's generally considered the most cute and feminine of the female cast. Her cuteness even borders on supernatural levels, with her "manga eyes" able to entrance almost any male, and small furry animals constantly following her due to her Snow White Syndrome. She also comes from a family of chefs and wants to be one herself. Despite all this, her cooking is considered slightly more toxic than toxic waste itself.
    • Yanderes can usually cook well (since they're often subversions of the Yamato Nadeshiko type), so I think that makes this even more of a subversion.
  • Tedd in El Goonish Shive can cook -- but only when he's a woman. His explanation is initially "because I'm hot" (and the comment on this background is "She's so hot, it helps her cook!"). Later he reasons that he only has to cook for himself when his dad isn't around, which is also when he turns himself into a girl, so he has accidently conditioned himself to feel more confident cooking in female form.

Western Animation

  • Doug's best gal pal the tomboyish Patti was shown in one episode to not be a good cook, despite that she's great at ballet.
  • A episode of Kim Possible shows her as a disaster in the kitchen, getting by the end of the episode under the tutelage of her culinary genius Sidekick Ron Stoppable, (who was always more of "The Chick" out of the two). Fanon makes her a Lethal Chef.
  • In The Princess and the Frog, the heroine, Tiana, loves to cook, and from the age of six shows off her prodigious gumbo skillz. Her dream is to own a beautiful, community-nurturing restaurant - a dream she inherited from her father. Note that she subverts this trope in that her dream is to be a professional chef, yet her skills were honed in her home kitchen.
  • As noted above, Colette from Ratatouille twists this trope around by being strong, feminine, and an outstanding chef at one of Paris' top restaurants all at once. She makes a speech partway through the film which essentially a big Take That to the notion that women can only cook within the home.
    • However, she was given a break by a male chef (arguably, the greatest chef ever), and combined with her overt and aggressive hostility, it tends to make her come off as a Straw Feminist.
  • Teen Titans: Raven can't even cook pancakes. Actually, I'm not even sure they're supposed to be pancakes.
    • Starfire's a straight example if you accept that Tamaranian cuisine is difficult for Earthlings to swallow at its best (unless you're Terra.)
  • Bridgette of Total Drama Island is the #3 type, of course she's better then Lindsey!
  • In the episode "Johnny Daddy Day" from Johnny Test, it is shown that Johnny's super-busy working mom Lila and genius inventor sisters Mary and Susan have no experience in cooking whatsoever. They aren't even sure what a spatula is or does. Under the guidance of Johnny (who took a cooking class to get an easy A grade), they manage to make a meatloaf for Hugh for Father's Day, only for it to come alive and attack him.

  Mary and Susan: We... might have used too much DNA.

  • Mrs Turner on Fairly Oddparents apparently can't cook very well, having fed her family with live squid casserole, shoes, food items that have been so foul they started attacking the rest of the family... Cosmo also seems to imply that Wanda's cooking is bad as well.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.