(Ed. note: Some of you may find these posts familiar. The truth is that I’m transferring them from a forum long abandoned. Laziness is a factor, but they’re relevant as well. Thanks.)

*sips tea*

Aprons are a problematic bit of fashion in this 21st century of ours. These little scraps of fabric symbolized and continue to symbolize domestic bondage. Not the fun kind where you lose wooden spoons in the mattress, but the one where women were elevated servants indentured to the good graces and financial generosity of their husbands. Some time ago though, probably the late 90’s, aprons made a resurgence among young women. We sought them out in thrift stores and consignment shops. We even went so far as to make our own, since they are pretty easy to whip up. What’s more, we weren’t just wearing them over our baby-doll dresses with waffle stomper boots. We were cooking in them. That’s right, cooking. In kitchens. And cooking things like green bean casserole, pies of all sorts, cupcakes, chicken and dumplings, vegan lasagna. You know, comfort food.

And the previous generation shrieked. “Everything we’ve done for them! We marched in the streets for equal rights! Burned bras for gender equality! Petitioned, voted, fought and sacrificed! And they’re back in the kitchen?!!!”

To quote the soccer hooligan who fondled me on the Tube, “Oy mum. Oy.” Translation: none – idiomatic for an attitude being copped.

We’ve chosen the kitchen. No one told us to go there. Some of us have simply found it as our place of solace, our sanctus sanctorum. I have good memories of my mother’s kitchen. It was safe, warm and it smelled like garlic. Even when times were tight, my mom made sure we had something to eat and never let on that the future was uncertain. For some young women, they’re recreating a sense of comfort they only guessed at from contact with other families since theirs didn’t work out so well. Maybe their moms worked a lot. Or maybe she was out rioting for women’s rights. The point is that it is a choice. Our mothers fought for increased options, but it seems that some have forgotten what choice entails. I can choose to order take-out if I damn well please. I have access to information (phone numbers) and my own money. Or I can choose to ask Jeff to make me some fucking risotto.

Along those lines, I choose to wear an apron. In the student ghetto kitchens of my twenties, I too took the “I don’t need no steenkin’ apron” approach. I wanted to feel the mess of cooking; to wear the evidence of my kitchen excursions like a badge. Aprons were part of my work uniform anyway. It was in my mind to keep the two parts of my life as separate as possible. Then I grew up a bit and started off into unexplored culinary terrain, specifically the baking arts (beyond mix in a box) and dinner parties. Suddenly, aprons made sense because I was making a horrible mess in the joyful pursuit of dessert and feeding the masses. Ramen isn’t that messy, but homemade pesto for six guests is, especially if you’ve been drinking on the job as I do. It wasn’t until I cooked professionally in brief stints at my mother’s restaurant that I converted to aprons entirely. (Oh, what’s that? Making your own money from your own business cooking? Imagine! Yes, she wears an apron. No, she doesn’t feel oppressed.) The “James banana stand” is located in the cultural heart of downtown Columbus, where all the summer festivals are held. Being part of the community, she and her business partner have a booth in the streets selling select menu items such as hummus, baked tofu, vegan apple cake, etc. When I was still living in Columbus, it was my filial duty to wrangle the hippies while she was away and make sure neither locations ran out of food. Have you ever been up to your elbows in mashed chickpeas? Have you ever prepared, at once, 10 gallons of gazpacho and carried it five city blocks through a crowd of 60,000? Have you ever scraped a half inch layer of organic canola oil and nutritional yeast out of the cracks of your combat boots after schlepping an I-shit-you-not total of 25 lbs of tofu a day for three days starting every morning at 6:00 a.m.? And have you done this while making sure that the staff is sober, the high-school interns aren’t snogging in the cooler and certain entrepreneurial regulars aren’t bogarting fridge space with bootleg kombucha/harassing the help?

Don’t tell me aprons are for wussies. Wear them with pride knowing you’ve transformed nature’s bounty into nurturing sustenance. If nothing else, they keep your smokes from getting drenched with dish water.

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