The article about naked vegan cooking was short and a little cheesy, but informative enough, I thought. Until I noticed something more sinister eyeing me from between the baba ghanouj and sweet corn fritters…
But let me back up. A few months ago, my writing mentor, author and naturist Susan Tweit, sent me a link to an online food article. She knows I blog about Licking the Spoon, my book in progress about food, sex, and relationship, and she thought I might find the article interesting. And I did, for a couple of reasons.
The article is about another blog that originates in the UK. Some college students share a big house in Manchester, where apparently they live, have lovers and cook together. (Hopefully they study, too.) But doesn’t it sound fun? I’ve been to Manchester. It’s so … English. And I don’t mean the King’s English, but that of the common blokes, people who ride double-decker buses and go to pubs and visit the loo. I was then a college student myself and went to see my boyfriend who was studying abroad for a year. I remember hitch-hiking (in the rain, of course) to stay with his friend and friend’s girl at the friend’s parents. And I thought it quaint how they had the two boys stay downstairs in sleeping bags while the two girls shared a bed upstairs. Like they actually thought we weren’t shagging! (But here a moment of respectful silence for this dilemma faced by many parents.)
Tripping down memory lane made me think about the bloggers’ house, whether it was a charming old brick row home like that of my hosts. I wondered if they leave the windows open even in the dead of winter like my host parents did (the deep bathtub being the only place I was able to warm up in three days.) But perhaps most important to a group of chefs would be the kitchen. I had been shocked to find that my host mom worked from a tiny refrigerator about the size of the one I had in my dorm room. She said the kitchen stayed chilly enough to keep food from spoiling. (And no wonder, what with all those open windows.) I noticed that they ate a lot of root vegetables. But vegans are big on fresh. So I pondered whether the bloggers have moved on up to the honkin’ size fridge that is standard in North America.
Well, the point of the article was not British sensibilities, veganism, or even the food itself. The point was how the bloggers cook in the NUDE. The part I found corny was the intro, asking whether the reader feels the need to take off her top while forming a soyrizo loaf, or eat his veggie lasagna without socks on. I mean, come on. It’s obvious the author doesn’t understand nudism. How is it nudism for a guy to eat without his socks on? And a nudist doesn’t just fling off her top mid-loaf, as if having a whim or a seizure; she probably went into the kitchen naked to start with.
OK, so the author might be naïve and a tad snarky. But now to the sinister part. This is where she asks whether it’s just her, or is cooking naked not only dangerous but “unsanitary.” She goes on to point out that frying in the nude might cause a burn – well, I have no quibble about this, since I myself once sported a little brown crescent moon for about three years (the exact size and shape of ½ piece of Japanese eggplant). No, it’s the word “unsanitary” that leapt out and began strangling me! Aarrgghhh!!! How can cooking naked be unsanitary? As long as you don’t scratch your ass with the spoon! And if you’re inclined to scratch your ass with the spoon, then I don’t want to eat your food anyway.
I know, this may seem picayune, even petty, on my part. But its very subtlety – how easily it infiltrates our language, which then muddies our consciousness – also makes it insidious. It’s an example of the sex-phobia that has much of our populace in its grip. An assumption that anything having to do with nudity, much less sexuality, is automatically unsanitary, unclean, unholy, ungodly – whatever “un” that a nervous person might want to ascribe to it. It doesn’t even matter if it’s true or not. It’s a knee-jerk reaction. Like a racist who’s ‘concerned’ about ‘the children’ of a mixed marriage. Or a sexist ‘worrying’ that a woman’s use of contraception might ‘condemn her to hell.’
Veganism isn’t the norm, but it’s a choice. Nudism isn’t common either, but it’s a choice. And unfortunately, so is being snarky and squirmy about bodies and sex and hygiene – instead of educating oneself about what’s real and true.
NakedVeganCooking says that their site promotes positive body image and healthy food. Maybe I’m wistful because I spent too many years in the dorm, eating cafeteria grub and wearing flip-flops in the shower in case someone left a fungus. But I like thinking about their comfy house in Manchester: Big old second-hand furniture covered in books, recipes, art, and plants. Mismatched china, Indian tablecloths, bright bowls of fresh fruit, and something delicious simmering on the stove. Friendship, flirtation, love, laughter, music, late night arguments about Ayn Rand, and maybe a few cats. And yeah, most likely some humanly imperfect breasts and tummies and thighs draping and dancing about. I may not choose to live that way, but it sounds like a rich life. But that’s me. Why don’t you check it out and decide for yourself?
In Licking the Spoon, I talk about how to create your own rich life in food, sex and relationship.