PEEK

Please Stop The First Lady Bake-Off

Why are candidate spouses still expected to swap recipes in the 21st century?
There are a lot of things I hate about election season, but the competition of which potential First Lady has the best recipes is perhaps my least favorite. So I’m actually kind of glad that “Farfalle-gate” has broken, and it turns out that Cindy McCain’s favorite family recipes were pulled directly from the Food Network — and that she didn’t even offer them up herself, some unpaid intern found them and claimed they were McCain family traditions. The whole thing is BS, and it makes me happy that Cindy didn’t waste ten minutes of her life transcribing her recipe for rosemary chicken (although, of course, she should have just said the whole thing was crap and given Rachel Ray the proper credit).

I like food as much as the next person — actually, I probably like food a whole lot more than the next person — but I don’t really understand why Americans care which First Lady has the best cookie recipe. And I really don’t understand this:
In the meantime, The Huffington Post reported that the passion fruit recipe had appeared under Mrs. McCain’s name in the Jan. 16 issue of The New York Sun, in an article that also included a recipe from Michelle Obama (apple cobbler) but not one from the spouse of the other Democratic presidential candidate. The article did include Hillary Rodham Clinton’s recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
Cindy McCain, Michelle Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Which one of these is not like the others?

Which isn’t to say that Hillary Clinton is above recipe-swapping because she’s a real competitor and the other ladies are just wives. It’s to point out that the whole thing is stupid and sexist, and that it’s not about presidential spouses. It’s a country-wide reminder of a woman’s place, and a nice little national smack-down of feminism and gender equality.

Plus, people cook with recipes that are not their own. The only thing I use my own “recipe” for is gemelli pasta with sauteed garlic, crushed red pepper, black pepper, cilantro and asiago cheese (plus whatever else I have in the fridge that sounds good — chickpeas, avocado, parmesan etc). And I’m pretty sure I picked that up from my old room mate. Now, if I were in the race, I would totally submit the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for steak au poivre, since that’s the only non-pasta, non-quesadilla thing I can cook — but I wouldn’t even try to convince the American people that it’s an old family secret. I would just send them directly to Ina Garten, and everyone would be the better for it.
Jill Filipovic is a New York-based freelance writer and a law student at NYU. More of her writing is available online at her blog, Feministe.