November 22 – On Plato and Roasted Chicken

by Tina Bausinger

My son Nathan, who is 13, is momentarily experiencing bliss–all from a chicken.

“Mom…this is soooo good,” he says with his mouth full.

I giggle. It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and I’m home from class, so I thought I should cook something. It’s kind of my thing. So many times I am not here to do the “mom” things for him (I work 30 hours a week and am a graduate English student, a writing tutor and a writer) so when I’m able, I try to make something he likes.

I sometimes wish I had something else to share with this man-child who has grown six inches in as many months, but I tried playing “Call of Duty” and (it’s just sad) ended up blowing myself up. So, I go with my strengths: cooking. That’s how I get him to turn off the video games and chat with me for a while–or as long as the food lasts.

It sometimes bothers me that I have such a connection with cooking. It’s so cliché, right? I guess 50 years of feminist rhetoric have done little to change that part of me that equates feeding with love. Did the works of Gloria Anzaldúa and Julia Kristeva (whom I adore) fall on deaf ears?

When I read these women, I learn from them, but I find little of me, my soul, changes. They have done little to alter that part of me, inherited from my grandmother, that takes pride in creating something from nothing. It seems confusing, but it’s not. I am a liberated, educated, American woman who does not need to lean on archaic ideas of womanhood. Except, maybe it’s the misconception of those ideas that distracts us. Maybe the feminists of past and present wrote and spoke not to take away from my freedom to roast the perfect chicken, but rather to keep that freedom to do what keeps us happy.

And writing does make me happy–just like cooking. I don’t have to choose. Good writing is cooking, when you think about it. Taking letters, forming them into words, and stringing those words together in a meaningful way, it’s not for everyone.

Plato wrote, “[Rhetoric] seems to me then . . . to be a pursuit that is not a matter of art, but showing a shrewd, gallant spirit which has a natural bent for clever dealing with mankind, and I sum up its substance in the name flattery…Well now, you have heard what I state rhetoric to be–the counterpart of cookery in the soul, acting here as that does on the body.”

I guess I see the connection: To take an ugly chicken carcass and to baste it in olive oil and garlic and roast it to perfection (that makes my teenage son ecstatic) or writing a short blog, are not so different. Either way, it sure feels good to see my son, who I don’t always understand, get a second plate.

Tina is a wife, a mom of three, a student, a lover of words, and a writer. She also make a mean lasagna. She loves finding the perfect word and placing it in the literary puzzle of her life.

4 responses to “November 22 – On Plato and Roasted Chicken

  1. love it. I was raised to believe I was more than a cook and a cleaning lady and yet, find that those things, when done in my way, my time, make ME happy….so,…and all of the the other creative endeavors that serve to keep me who I am also endear me (though sometimes frustrate) my loves. And, yet, we all live in bliss. Thank you for your post. You have found lovely words and placed the puzzle pieces together wonderfully for this post. 😀

  2. I love the analogy of cooking and writing. Both very creative processes that I also love.

  3. This really speaks to me, being an extremely liberal-leaning teen of the 70’s, who has often been a bit embarrassed to admit that she was also a Home-Ec. major!

  4. Wow, Tina, I love your post! (And I also love the idea of writing as cooking). I am a fierce feminist, and I was a stay-at-home Mom and homemaker for 25 years, just becoming empty nest. I was able to be a full time homemaker because my husband’s income was adequate, and I chose the role.
    I’m currently working towards a Masters Degree, and one of my professors asked me if I’m going to go on for a PhD. when I’m done. I said, “I don’t think so— I don’t want to be working on a dissertation when I might have grandchildren around.” He didn’t care for that answer at all, but I don’t feel ashamed of it. Any of us, female or male, who put first priority on being there for the children, have every right to make that choice and be proud of it. And same for those who make different choices.
    There is much to be said for tending the hearth and home as much as we are able if we enjoy it. As for cooking, I did most of it in our house for twenty years. And I’ve been VERY happy in recent years to turn it over to my husband and kids, all of whom LOVE cooking much more than I do.

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