I am a huge fan of Mad Men and had a very mixed reaction to the finale (no spoilers in this post, I promise), so I started poking around the Mad Men website to see what other people thought about the episode. Among other things, I stumbled across this interview with Cara Buono, known as Dr. Faye Miller on the show. One of the questions was about Dr. Faye’s aversion to cooking:

Q: Faye doesn’t cook. What about you?

A: I am the opposite of Faye. I love to cook. I love to cook for myself and my husband and big groups. I find it very relaxing, and I love socializing around a dinner table. Although, it’s funny because Faye always says she wants to get something to eat, so I think she likes to eat. I just think she doesn’t like to cook. So in that way Faye and I are very similar: We both love to eat.

I’m clearly more of a Cara than a Faye, but the question got me thinking about cooking and identity. On the show, Dr. Faye’s dislike of cooking suggests that she is not as domestic as other females; she’s so devoted to her career that she has neither the time nor the interest in making food. Her love of eating out also suggests that she has the sophistication and means to enjoy fine dining, much like the male advertising executives we see in other parts of the show.

In 2010, a love of cooking no longer seem connected to domesticity. Identifying oneself as a cook now has a much different connotation than it did fifty years ago. In fact, with the explosive rise of celebrity chefs and foodie culture, cooking has become its own brand of cool. People have always and will always need to eat, and I love how political, social, and cultural history have left indelible marks on the history of cooking. By looking back at how people used prepare the food they ate, we can discover large issues and find charming details about our past. However, despite the changes in the cultural position of cooking, one thing has remained constant: we still love to eat.

{Read the full interview; images from the Man Med Photo Gallery}