This A.P. story about a Mexican who filed a complaint that he wasn’t allowed to be included in a cooking contest has so many twists and turns related to its social and cultural implications that I think I’m going to need to eat some menudo in order to stop my head from spinning after writing this post. Benjamin Garcia got rightfully upset when the organizers of the “Best Cook of Mexico City” contest refused to let him enter because he has a ding-a-ling and not a va jay jay. This makes more sense reading Notimex’s version of the article, where the contest is referred to in Spanish as “La Mejor Cocinera de la Ciudad de México,” which utilizes the feminine form in “cocinera,” which would translate literally to “female cook.”
According to the A.P. article, Garcia filed a complaint with DF’s human rights commission saying that the contest “discriminated against men and stereotyped women.” By no means is “the man” holding men down here in Macho Mexico, but Benjie has a point. How are these women supposed to prove that they are indeed the best cooks in town if they’re not frying it up with the whole playing field? The contests organizers responded by changing the entry requirements for next year and are considering changing the name of the contest to something more neutral like, “Mexico’s next top Recipe,” or “So you think you can Empanizar?”
I don’t know much about Benjie or whether or not he’s the kind of guy who realizes he’s a feminist crusader, but essentially by speaking out he’s taking a huge leap for gender equality in this country. If Frida Kaho were around today she’d probably show up to the contest wearing a suit and a five o’clock shadow.
While Benjie’s efforts are to be applauded, he’s gonna need some pretty big huevos to beat these ladies. Mexican women have been stirring the pot here since before La India Bonita made chiles rellenos for Emperor Maximillano. Today the local culinary scene is dominated by female chefs like Martha Ortiz, Patricia Quintana and Monica Patiño who are running the kitchens at four and five-star restaurants like Aguila y Sol,Izote, and Naos.
If the government can realize that there’s room for men in the kitchen, maybe they’re on their way to figuring out that women have a place outside of it. Maybe.