Michelle Obama’s Place is in the Kitchen?


Never mind the hysteria over the Obamas’ choice of Blue Hill for dinner on Saturday. According to Amanda Hesser, Mrs. Obama should have been in the kitchen herself.

In a Saturday op-ed in the Times, Hesser first inexplicably reminds us that Mrs. Obama has “roots in the working class,” and goes on to wish that Obama would set a good example for us all by getting in the kitchen:

“However, when The Washington Post asked Mrs. Obama for her favorite recipe, she replied, “You know, cooking isn’t one of my huge things.” And last month, when a boy who was visiting the White House asked her if she liked to cook, she replied: “I don’t miss cooking. I’m just fine with other people cooking.” Though delivered lightheartedly, and by someone with a very busy schedule, the message was unmistakable: everyday cooking is a chore.”

Hesser suggests that Mrs. Obama hold a food summit meeting in the White House, and turn that into a national task force that would give free cooking lessons. (Only to women, perhaps?) Then, she’ll “need to keep the pot boiling” by going on the morning talk show circuit to promote home cooking.

The article ends with Hesser speculating:

And it wouldn’t be surprising if, with a little exposure to the kitchen, Mrs. Obama took to cooking herself. Her progress could be our progress. After all, great cooking involves a blend of curiosity, determination and style, all traits she possesses. And with those arms, she could out-whisk anyone.

Patronizing, anybody? We’re the first to say that home cooking is fun and rewarding, but to suggest that the first lady, who, in a way, represents all American wives and mothers, should love to cook, and that she somehow does Americans a disservice by saying that she doesn’t love to cook is appallingly retro.

In fact, Mrs. Obama did working women everywhere a service by admitting that after a long day running a hospital, she didn’t relish coming home to roast a chicken. Newsflash: it’s no longer obligatory that wives and mothers must take responsibility for cooking meals, rather than a husband or partner, or someone hired for that purpose.