What happened to women who could cook?

(OYUNGA PALA) I assumed that every guy who owned a car could change a flat tire without the help of AA. I assumed all women could cook. It was stupid but I suffer the occasional lapses. The result of my absentmindedness has been some very trying culinary experiences.

That is why these days when I date, I never let her cook. For a start I am no risk taker and secondly I am too fond of food to take its preparation lightly. Above and beyond, you cannot be presumptuous anymore. These are not the heydays when grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters and friendly female neighbors took to cooking with zeal. Those women made ugali and sukuma wiki a delicious fare regardless of its lowly station in the food chain. Try and imagine what they did with the chicken. Indeed, you never realize the value of good cooking until you taste bland food served by a loving wife.

Before we drag this into a gender squabble, I would like to say that cooking today is just another basic requirement that every adult male embraces. Okay, that’s not entirely accurate.  While most bachelors have since graduated from making tea and frying eggs, many continue to abscond and scuttle off into the illusionary comforts of marriage, while some remain addicted to sneaking in and out of their mothers’ kitchens. Traditionally we have been passed along like the flu from one female to another. The lateral movement, from one kitchen to the next has helped perpetuate the belief that men cannot self-feed.

These are some of the roadblocks in the path towards new age male liberation. Until, Kenyan men take control of their culinary destiny, by taking charge of their own nutrition, we will remain thoroughly vulnerable to manipulation and gout. You do realize that the disturbing majority of the gout sufferers are married men running away from their wives cooking. Sadly, lots of guys are locked into arrangements that are not nutritionally sound.

Fortunately, there is escape for the growing group of forward thinking blokes who refuse to take personal nutrition lightly. Interestingly the motivation factor on many occasions has largely been inedible food presented by the willing but often inept female.

I had been dating this otherwise lovable woman for about five days when it happened. It was one of those mid month situations and I was not a position to take her out to a Chinese restaurant for steamed rice and lightly fried greens served in fake oriental atmosphere at some very pocket-unfriendly prices. Nevertheless, necessity is the mother of invention so I proposed a candle lit dinner at my place. The candle was standard back up in case of a scheduled power blackout.  These are tactics routinely applied by struggling romantics. Eager to make a lasting first date impression, I unleashed my Khmer style, coconut flavored, veggie curry with yummy chapos (chapatti) off the pan on her palates. It was love from the first spoonful. It beats me why guys spend long hours in the gym building biceps. A tasty curry will earn one a lot more mileage. Two days later, she tried to reciprocate with dinner at her place and it tasted like revenge. Red wine, sticky rice and burnt meat! What was she thinking? It was a quick tongue numbing experience I have no intention of repeating.

Nonetheless, bad cooking is often preceded by good intentions. In need to impress sometimes the Johnny-come-lately girls take it overboard. I have watched this sort of woman go about her thing with nothing short of enthrallment. If only the meal was as great as the PR. “Have you ever tried Hungarian goulash with coriander?’ It is the kind of cuisine title that grabs your attention until you discover that Coriander is just a fancy name for dania powder. Culinary critics may give goulash rave reviews but I know an average stew when I taste one.

At the height of this absurdity, is the severe need to go exotic, with any means necessary. Sophisticated dining and ignorance have always been at loggerheads. The glossy magazine says boysen berries are the toast of the season but the pampered local blonde forgets that we live in the tropics. Expensive and exotic equates good. Kitchen shelves will be lined up with clearly visible imported labels. Dried out saffron, stale olive oils, mace and marjoram powder, meat tenderizer and cheap vinegar on the verge of expiry.  It passes for an intimidating display until the shallot soup is presented. Nothing but MSG flavored water with a dash of shallots (a big word for small onions)! A well-done Boilo would show shallot soup dust in any taste contest. Salads will be over chopped and smothered in a mayo based dressing, summarily killing any good coming from the greens. Eating roughage has never been more uninteresting. As for the soggy lasagna, all I can say is let’s us stick to what we know.

This is the kind of incompetence that I will not stomach even at the behest of love. That some women can’t put together a standard protein and carbs mixture at short notice is simply unfortunate, especially given their clearly evident fondness for grub. Look around. The girls are not becoming any smaller.

It appears to be another case of reversed roles only that while men were busy rolling up their sleeves, exploring new frontiers, several women folded their arms across their chests and regressed. Two reasons could be attributed to this reversal. The first is the emergence of maids who dutifully stepped in to play the woman’s role in the household. The second is that feminists successfully propagated the belief that successful career management and domestic skills had to be kept estranged. My! What a fine mess they created.

It’s depressing that some of our women think they can talk their way out of bad cooking, expecting the same sort of amnesty that was handed out when potbellies became commonplace. A woman, who can’t cook, is likely to endanger a budding relationship.


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  1. Kathy Nzoma October 4th, 2012 at 10:54 am

    This is a good piece very true indeed….

  2. Ed October 4th, 2012 at 11:51 am

    And as I wait for the women to start proclaiming that days of a woman’s place being in the kitchen are long gone….. Yes, a woman’s place today is in the boardroom, but while you are busy signing along dotted lines, your husband and children are being ‘fed’ by somebody else. And that doesn’t go well eventually…especially at a time when patience and understanding are rare virtues among the young (and stupid). A woman’s place is not in the kitchen. But it is unfortunate that today’s average Nairobi young woman, with all her degrees and MBA, can’t put together a decent meal for the man who has caught her eye. Back to basics: a woman who can whip a good meal for her potential man (and her family), has one one foot in. Same way women demand gentlemanliness and a decent income from men, we demand an occasional home cooked meal that won’t send me to the ER.

  3. Sasha October 4th, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    First- women can cook. I’m a well-educated, board-room diva who can handle an entire house. My mother trained me up very well. When I was 7, I could cook an entire meal for my 3 OLDER siblings and my parents. When I was 10, my sisters and I could handle lunch for all of our cousins when they came home. My mother has never entered the kitchen from the time I was 13, unless she wanted to cook/make something special for my dad. When I was 15, our entire family moved countries. Maids/shamba boys- gone. Guess who maintained the house? That was me and my sister. When I was 17, my sister and I catered for 100 guests (eg: – 200 chapos + just by me etc) for my parents’ graduation dinner.

    Right now, I’ve got a top-paying corporate job, and I manage to balance that with taking care of my house. I’m not a feminist- I love being a woman, and I respect a man who can lead. I support my man with everything that I have, and I respect him too.

    Second- it’s ALL about parenting. Looking at the generation of young parents today, many of them sit back as their kids walk all over them. I don’t believe my eyes when I see a 3 year old causing a tantrum and mum/dad does nothing, or a 7 year old being fed and clothed without that child not doing anything in the home to earn it. Or a 10 year old having NO IDEA how to fry an egg. Parents these days don’t want to do the hard work of parenting ie:- disciplining their kids. They want a hobby. They want their kids to be their friends. Check up on those kids 10 years from now- total messes!

    Third- before you judge women who can’t cook, take a look at the men who ALSO can’t cook. Trust- it’s as much of a turn on for women to see a man who can ALSO handle a home. My brother can cook up a storm, even though he was the only boy in the family. Appreciate the men out there who can handle a home too! Rare as hell, but surprising all the same.

    Fourth- Africa is moving AWAY from the stereotypes surrounding men and women. A woman WILL respect a man who can handle a house as well. Why should you wait two weeks for a maid to come and wash your dishes (mold and all)? Can’t you cook for ME? Ata mi nishow! However, that doesn’t mean that we should abandon who we truly are. If I’m a woman and I am the best at cooking, then I’ll handle the kitchen. As the man, you handle fixing the car, paying the bills etc. This is assuming traditional roles. It doesn’t mean, though, that one can’t assume a non-traditional role.

    So before you judge “some of our women”, remember that there’s a group of us who can work it- at home AND in the board room!

    1. KAGAWA October 10th, 2012 at 11:21 am


    2. K.M.Githaiga October 10th, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      Nice read Kudos, Challange to the women and MEN who cant cook

    3. ImpressedMan October 19th, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      You are such an exemplary woman, wife, mother and parent, and should I say career woman. God bless you.

  4. Gatsby October 4th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I think the article referred to SOME women who can’t cook, thats my first point. My second point is to Sasha, you may not be a feminist but Mr. Pala has never been shy about his fairly old school thinking about the expectations of male and female roles within a household. Writing in expecting him to change is, umm, a fool’s errand and you run the risk of coming off as the feminist you claim to not be. You catch my drift….. Much respect and good luck to you as you continue to conquer the boardrooms of Africa and beyond.

  5. w33_dx October 4th, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    I can bet our mothers were the last ladies who could do stuffs wholeheartedly otherwise men stand a chance be to served some arrogant arrogantly prepared/cooked dish, my stomach cannot stand that and can’t even dare take such a risk. They can’t even do a simple laundry, ironing!!!! Nowadays to keep a lady, one is a must bow down to alot of bull crap and unnecessary expensive lifestyles of mamafua & takeaway junkfoods all weekends.

  6. Angie October 4th, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Gatsby, Pala may be old school n his thinkingbut it leaves me to wonder if he is only writing this for the ratings! He peeves us with his thoughts on women and cooking because he expects a reaction. Well, Pala here is a reaction for you… you are conceited, chauvinistic and obnoxious in your reasoning. I have NEVER seen a law that says a woman’s role is in the kitchen, times have changed and we must accept that society is changing as well even here in Modern Africa. Just like Sarsha, I have a corporate job so i work full time..I dont want a man who expects me to make the meals every night and day. Men are now domesticating and that is an attractive trait. I will cook because I love him not because it is my duty as the woman.
    And by saying many gout sufferers are running away from their wives cooking is a false statement…Nice try!
    Lastly, Its about time Kenyan men take control of their culinary destiny…they arent big on romance anyway so this would be a fresh start and something for a wife who makes bland food to enjoy.

    1. Sura Mbaya October 10th, 2012 at 7:44 am

      “I have NEVER seen a law that says a woman’s role is in the kitchen” – So if there was one you would comply? Your statement makes little sense, and this after you made an ad hominem attack on the writer.

  7. HAHA October 4th, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    @22420e0c6ef18a94ec02e6ecd067ae47:disqus dude- rudi shule for spelling!

  8. Dan October 4th, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    @ w33_dx hey- let’s begin first by saying that maybe the reason you cannot attract a woman who can cook, clean, iron, dinya you and still end up as a hot woman is because your grammar IME CHAPA!!! Dude- si you just rudi Std. 1 uanzie tena? Pliss! You’re embarrassing the rest of us guys.

    Ok- as a man, I just have to DISAGREE with this Pala. I do get that he loves ratings, so his writing is skewed. So let’s just anzia there. I appreciate the women I know who can cook and clean. They do exist. But guess what I had to do to attract them?

    Anyone? I’ll give you 1,000,000/= if you can guess!!

    I guess not- y’all are just too STUPID to realize that there are women out there that we need to WORK OUR ASSES OFF for- those are the ones who are worth it in the end.

    Be a jack ass- you’ll attract a jack-ass-woman-person thing.

    Pala- is that your problem? You’re a jackass… ain’t you?

    1. Sura Mbaya October 10th, 2012 at 7:43 am

      Well said brother. You have got to find that woman that you will walk to the ends of the earth and back for – and in the realm of things, cooking for her really would be a walk in the park.

  9. Daisy October 4th, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    First things first – just in case you did not know…some men do call AA when they need a flat tyre changed, and in the same breath, some women will hire chefs or in most cases house keepers to sort out the kitchen, food and allied.

    Secondly, what gives men the idea that they can hop from one kitchen to another, and expect the new one to be like where they are coming from. Soon as many men imagine they are ready to leave their mothers nest they envision they will receive the same kind of attention from their wives. Men, its time to GROW UP! Your mother is your mother ergo, she will always treat you like a child. On the other hand, i do not expect your wife to continue to propagate this behavior of dependency. You are her companion – not her child!

    If anything, I blame mothers for propagating traditional gender roles in a non traditional world. I am a woman, a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother of boys. As a child, i grew up with nannies and yes, we had a cook as well. This did not mean that all children (boys and girls) did not learn how to cook. By the age of 10, each of us, including the boys could easily prepare delectable meals for the entire family. So this carp about a man expecting to be served by a woman is just that…Crap!

    Being a woman does not mean that you are condemned to servitude. If you are a believer of the faith, then you also know that woman was created for companionship. Yes, a good wife should always prioritize the interests of her family. It also does say that she instructs her servant girls on what to do. So stop hating on women who have employees to assist them in their household tasks. I refuse to believe that in this day and age both man and woman will go out to work, come home in the evening, and man sits with his legs up waiting for her to slave over the oven just so that he can fill his belly. As far as I know, if a woman loves you, she will do whatever she feels is necessary for you to be happy. You never know, she may even happily go slave in the kitchen after work, but its only fair you help her out.

    The woman of today is juggling a career and a home. I am proud to say that a good majority are doing a fantastic job. The writer of this article needs to re-evaluate the places he is meeting these women who are unable to put together a simple meal.

    Mothers, please teach your sons to love the women in their lives enough to know when they need a hand, and most importantly, to steer away from gender stereotypes.

    As for you Oyunga Pala, and all other men out there still waiting to find someone to replace their mothers—Forget it. You better move back under the apron!

    1. Real G October 10th, 2012 at 2:04 pm

      We don’t want to be treated like we were treated by our mothers,we just need women who can do the most basic of duties for their men and husbands and their children and that is cook!! It says a lot when we meet women who can’t cook.Where do I start as a man if you as a woman can’t cook? Even in the bible it’s written that man needs a helper,it doesn’t say man needs a competitor!! We know you need a hand,thats why we pay the bills,buy clothes pay for the salon and make sure there is a proper functional roof over our heads,pay insurance buy a car or cars for us to use and make sure there is enough resources financial and otherwise for the smooth running of the home.So if we as men do all these and still “give a hand” where does that leave you as surposedly the woman of the house? Basic instinct,anything else is dillusional and only leads to dysfunctional relationships.

      1. Lucia Jebet November 2nd, 2012 at 3:47 pm

        If you love her then get in the kitchen & help her cook. You need to look at your woman as your partner, not your servant. Money comes & goes, what if you lose your money & she has to step in? Would you then play the role of the wife & her of the husband?

  10. Miss Miss October 4th, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    what about the men STILL LIVING AT HOME AT 35???? Sexy?

    I doubt it!

    Pala- ebu focus your article- balance!

  11. JingaPala October 4th, 2012 at 4:37 pm


  12. jim October 4th, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    here ladies; there is no need to go on the offensive (yet again!) about this.

    has eloquently stated the obvious. Show me random young lass who can whip up a
    mean chicken stew or chapos for that matter and I will say a short prayer. Hey
    guys, we’re even talking about basics like tea here! Kudos to the few ladies who
    have upped their game without screaming murder.

    will say without fear of contradiction – Any lass worth her salt who has no clue
    in the kitchen is nothing short of useless.

    you can go hang me in the feminist court.

  13. jim October 4th, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Lets keep this decent and stick to the point of discussion. OP put together a decent piece. You cease to be called a lady or gentleman if you engage in insults, typos notwithstanding. We may start thinking that you do not belong in this forum. Too bad there seems to be no way of filtering trashy comments.

  14. J.J October 4th, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    wow! couldn’t agree more and am a lady 🙂

  15. Mainye October 4th, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Saying u have a way with words is an understatement.Great piece here.You cant say she got the whole package if she can’t come out with something you can vouch for out of the kitchen!

  16. Andrew, SD October 4th, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    I find Pala’s writing complex.. had to stop half-way!!

    1. Mazzdark May 13th, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      Usijali..if you didn’t know now you know

  17. githaiga October 5th, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Yes Pala., forget negative comments from our sisters. I bet , and I am damn serious on this,…majority cook half-cooked ugali!!! what has happened?. Secondly, they have appetite for cooking fatty less nutritious foods in our homes- just like they eat from restaurants. I simply hate to count the number of obese women I come across in our streets.

    1. NKT! October 5th, 2012 at 9:35 am

      Can you COOK???? And what about men’s vitambis rolling around our city? Take control of YOUR OWN food. You don’t need a woman to cook for you!

      Better yet, surprise us with more than ugali/mayai, ugali/sukuma!!

    2. Patrick November 27th, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      Totally agree….i would cook better ugali than most Nairobi women and moreover more notorious food.

      1. Bemused June 27th, 2013 at 11:02 pm

        What is notorious food?

  18. Emmah October 6th, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Seems true.However,we ladies are not to blame.The dynamic society is.May be we should enroll ourselves in catering classes.

  19. hannah October 10th, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I like how you say “I had been “dating” this otherwise lovable woman for about FIVE days”…. dating?! That’s sounds more like “test driving” 🙂

  20. Guest October 10th, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    I DISAGREE WITH THIS SENTENCE “You do realize that the disturbing majority of the gout sufferers are married men running away from their wives cooking”!!!!!!!! THEY ARE ACTUALLY SPENDING THEIR TIME OUT OF THEIR HOMES EATING NYAMA CHOMA FOR “OTHER” REASONS……. AND DON’T EAT AT HOME! PERIOD!!!!!!!

    1. Mazzdark May 13th, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      Calm down sweetie…

  21. nyagot October 23rd, 2012 at 10:32 am

    i guess its OK if you cant cook. Like an art ,Its not everyone who can cook well. Its a blessing if you can get a man who can understand and love you the way you are….after all not all men can change flat tires in record minutes. That said no one should feel proud that they cant cook,essentially its not slavery,women are nurturers ideally and we are the ones who give birth therefore we are expected to feed our offspring,thus cooking whether good or bad.


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