Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sauteed Cabbage with Bacon and Cream (Page 528)


  • Date: Monday, August 18, 2008 -- 8pm
  • Location: Palo Alto, CA
  • Kitchen: Emilee and Brian's Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Emilee, Brian, Matty, and Tom
  • Recipe Rating: C

This recipe was part of a meal where Brian made the main dish (which was delicious!) and I made some side dishes out of The Book to go with it (in this case, less delicious). The pickings are getting a little slim in the Vegetables section of The Book, but Brian loves cabbage, and I love bacon and cream, so I figured I would give this recipe a try. This side dish was bad though. Just look at the picture -- that about summarizes it. Soggy cabbage sitting in a pool of cream and bacon. It wasn't terribly tasty. The recipe was simple enough. I cooked the bacon until browned, then added the cabbage. I cooked that until wilted then added the cream. Then the whole thing cooked for another 15 minutes. The end result had several problems. One, the bacon flavor totally overwhelmed the flavor of the cabbage. I vastly prefer the flavor of bacon to that of cabbage so I wasn't too offended myself, but if you are going to go to the trouble of making a cabbage dish rather than just making some bacon, it might as well taste a bit like cabbage. The dish had textural issues too. The cabbage was limp and slimy, and even the bacon tasted a little soggy after simmering for 15 minutes in cream. Overall this one was not a winner. Matty ate his serving, but most of us just pushed it around our plates for a while. Not good.

This recipe isn't online.

Sometime during the wedding festivities of this past weekend a (presumably drunk) guy said to me, "You know, you are too attractive to be a math teacher." My response, "Thanks, I guess." It was an odd comment and it got me wondering, why is it that mathematicians have a reputation for being unattractive? I don't think this reputation is specific to math women, but there are certainly more jokes about the unattractiveness of math women than there are about math men. Generally these jokes aren't specific to math really -- they are more about women in science. A few really special ones:

1. I asked a friend once if there were a lot of women in his computer science department and he responded, "None identifiable as such."

2. There is this saying in Boston about the college women in the area: "BU to bed, Harvard to wed, MIT to pull a sled."

I have never found these things particularly offensive, mostly because I don't think they have too much foundation in reality. It is true that math women are less likely than the average woman to spend a lot of time on grooming. They are generally less likely to spend hours blow drying their hair and putting on make-up. They are less likely to wear the newest fashions and the highest heels. But they are also less likely to be overweight -- the vast majority of the math women I know are active and fit. I know lots of cute math girls. In fact I went out to dinner just last week with three beautiful math women. So where does this reputation come from? I think we are taught to believe that smart and unattractive go together (Think: Beauty and the Geek). And it seems to me that women tend to be judged more on appearance than men are, so smart women bear the brunt of this stereotype. As a kid I was aware of this stereotype, but I didn't particularly care -- I wonder though if it discourages some young women from pursuing their interest in math and science... Hopefully as the number of women in math and science increases, there will be a better chance that people will actually know a female mathematician/scientist personally, and will have some actual first-hand knowledge to refute these stereotypes! That's my hope anyway...


Anonymous said...

man: "BU to bed, Harvard to wed, MIT to pull a sled."
woman: "and then your bastard children must all be fed"

Anonymous said...

"BU to bed, Harvard to wed, MIT to pull a sled."
The funny thing is that the only thing an intelligent woman would be willing to do for a man who thought or spoke that way is to take pity on him and help him pull the sled with the other "dogs" if he was stranded in the middle of the Arctic, where he belongs.

Anonymous said...

The issue Teena raises is an interesting one. I, for one, am pessimistic about this particular stereotype being debunked, and I don't think it's the men's fault enitrely. Men are raised to believe that in order to be successful they must out-compete other men; throw intelligent women in the mix and eventually they must rationalize not always coming out on top (no pun intended:)) So they put women down with these ridiculous stereotypes meant to "defeminize" women who exhibit "masculine qualities," such as the ability to do well in math and science. When you think about it, calling woman a "dog" is about as vicious an insult as you can get, implying somehow that the woman is so ugly she's not even a woman.
Having said all that, any man who is so immature as to think of any woman as a dog is not really a man but a boy. Unfortunately, the thing about American culture is that this sort of immaturity is taken for granted and even celebrated. I believe that male immaturity per se is a far worst and more serious problem than the silly stereotypes said immature men come up with.
So since now I'm depressing even myself I'm going to end my nice little comment...