Friday, June 3, 2011


This is the blood of Christ, also known as RED WINE. Red wine has been around since before written history, since before, even, that people realized they were drinking wine. As we evolved, so did our relationship with wine. We love wine and the mentions of it in art, literature, and music is literally too numerous to count. Historically, red wine has been deeply embedded in many cultures. For men, it has come to represent blood and virility. For women, red wine has provided many much-deserved free passes from unyielding cultural constraints.

It is here, I believe, that red wine begins to attract negative associations, or at least our culture has shifted the way in which it interprets these associations. For example, wine can increase one’s libido. Depending on the political climate, this could be either good or bad. The blush brought on by red wine mimics the flushing of a woman’s décolleté during arousal. What could be wrong with this, you might ask. Not much, unless you consider a woman’s sexuality dangerous or immoral. Red wine was long recommended for infertility, the idea being perhaps babies were more apt to happen if everyone could just loosen up a bit. Then again, many babies have been conceived because someone got a little too loose.

The association between red wine and homosexuality appears to be a mainly American phenomenon. Such association does not exist in, say, Spain or Italy. The American man who drinks red wine is gay, unless he is drinking it along with a woman in the hopes he will later bed her. It is difficult to say how this association came about. Certainly in the US there is a stereotype of men with lineage linking them to Italy, Spain, or Mexico as men who are virile, strong, and handsome. But not all aspects of these cultures maintained their “manliness” when they migrated to the states. Perhaps this is what happened with wine. 

Of course, the there is always Caravaggio and his depiction of red wine and Bacchus. In this portrait, the lusty little Bacchus with his doey come-hither eyes beckons us to approach him. I can hear him now saying, “Come here often?” And Bacchus, while he does not meet our contemporary notions of gay identity, was a big fan of homosexual acts. Could it be this idea is still resident in contemporary culture?

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Seventy percent of the Earth is covered with WATER. Your body is fifty to sixty percent water. With all that water around, you'd think we would take it for granted. But that is not true; the water we drink reveals a lot about us. In the 1980s Perrier was practically synonymous with urbanity and male homosexuality, despite their best efforts (NSFW). This was not true for female homosexuals. Light beer in a can was the signifier for female homosexuality. Perhaps what we drink is significant is because it comprises so much of who we are, not just metaphorically, but literally.

The gendering of water runs parallel to the push to get Americans to drink more processed beverages. I mean, you can't charge for tap water. And most of the waters sold in this country are owned by the same multinational corporations that sell us the oceans of soda pop that Americans so love to swill. Pepsi owns Aquafina and SoBe Lifewater, which is really just punch, and Coke owns Dasani. Even the mineral water overlords San Pellegrino and Perrier are owned by Nestle. At Whole Foods you can buy BPA-free bottles that you can fill with the water of your choice. Exclusive of external decoration, the bottles remain unisex. These vessels serve not as signifiers of gender or sexual orientation, but instead are markers of class, and even perhaps, political affiliation.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


SALT is a mineral and so ubiquitous that until recently salt hadn't even bothered to be gendered. It was like water, which used to be gender-neutral but now has as many cultural associations as well, arugula.

Purchasing salt was once easy. You had one choice, table salt, though there were often multiple brands. If you did have a choice it was between iodized and non-iodized. This is disregarding specialty salt, like pickling salt or salt for the front stoop. LaRousse Gastronomique recommends a refined table salt and eschews impure salts that have any color other than white.

Recently, though, salt has become a hot commodity. People are no longer tied to simple fine, white table salt. They desire gourmet salt. Right now Sea Salt or Fleur de Sel is fashionable both for male and female gourmands. Although closely associated with gender, class is the larger marker associated with salt. The American gourmet salt craze has problematized historic perceptions of salt.

For example, common table salt has become so common that it has tipped, and is now moving toward the uncommon. It is now a signifier of an unenlightened dining table. Kosher salt has usurped the place once held by the ubiquitous salt shaker. Grey and pink sea salt, artisinal salts, and perfumed salts, are all gendered as feminine. French fry salt, Lowry's Seasoned Salt, and little packets of salt from McDonald's are are gendered as male, and specifically heterosexual male. Despite the current hipster craze for retro cocktails like the Bloody Mary, the universally loved celery salt maintains its mid-century reputation, reinforcing not a gender-neutrality, but instead re-inscribing an unyielding gender binary.

Monday, March 7, 2011


This is BEEF. Bloody, bloody beef. In the United States, Beef is universally accepted as a heterosexual male food. It is also associated with the mid-west. When one hears the phrase "meat and potatoes man" this always means beef. "Meat" never ever refers to mutton, rabbit, or goat. On rare occations it may refer to pork, but this is non-standard usage.

The form the beef takes correlates to its gayness, yet be cautious of unexpected associations. A steak for example is heterosexual, especially when prepared rare or medium-rare. A well-cooked steak becomes associated with women, either heterosexual or homosexual. This is counter-intuitive because of women's need of iron.

A curious paradox is carpaccio, an Italian dish of thinly sliced raw beef. Despite the rawness of the flesh and the Italian origin, carpaccio is an effeminate preparation of beef.

Friday, February 25, 2011


This is FENNEL. I know what you’re thinking. Fennel is undoubtedly gay. But it’s not so easy to judge the homosexual (male) qualities of fennel.

LaRousse Gastronomique describes fennel this way:

FENNEL. Fenouil—An aromatic flowering umbelliferous plant of Italian origin which is now widely cultivated. It has a slight flavour of aniseed.

It is true that delightful dishes such as “Orange and Fennel Salad” from Cucina Fresca by Evan Kleinman and Viana La Place are  unanimously considered homosexual. The recipe calls for 3 large navel oranges (or PINK grapeFRUIT), 2 medium fennel bulbs, 3 tablespoons FRUITY olive oil, course sea salt and freshly ground pepper. The homosexual possibilities of fennel reveal themselves explicitly in the text.

Yet fennel routinely makes its subtle presence known in Italian pasta sauces. You’ll frequently see it roasted with onions, combined with sausage, and other meat sauces. And as we all know, it doesn’t get more heterosexual (male) than that.

Friday, February 11, 2011


This is ARUGULA. It is the most homosexual of all the leafy greens. It is soft to the touch, with a bright green color and even though it is not a lily looks a bit like a fleur-de-lis. Fleur-de-lis is French, which is the most homosexual of languages and perhaps this has something to do with arugula’s gay reputation.

In other countries, arugula is known as ROCKET or ROQUETTE (see French). LaRousse Gastronomique describes arugula this way:

ROCKET (CRESS). Roquette—Strong smelling plant with sharp and piquant flavour. Its leaves are smooth and glabrous, the flowers white or pale yellow and it grows wild in the fields. It is used as seasoning in salads.

Despite its strong, sharp flavor, arugula in American mainstream media is portrayed as effete. President Obama was tainted by the emasculating aura of arugula on the campaign trail in 2007 when he complained about the rising price of arugula. (Clinton had his own radicchio debacle, which will be discussed in a later post.) This wasn’t a deathblow to the candidate. Currently, Michelle Obama grows arugula in the White House organic garden.