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Why We Bake

Justin Tardiff | Monday, September 8, 2008

The other night, two guy friends observed ND women’s spontaneous urge to bake. They noted that every so often we Domer-girls have a strange desire to return to traditional domestic ways. According to their theory, ND girls constantly fight homemaker stereotypes looking to instead become successful in academia and/or in the career life after college. But every so often, we can’t deny the cultural clichés ingrained into us from childhood. We must pick up the nearest whisk and come up with something sweet and savory to satisfy our Domestic Goddess longings. It’s like those monkeys that were trained for space travel, every so often they just want to eat a banana and swing on trees for a while.

I don’t know if this assessment is completely fair, but it is at least quite interesting. From what I can tell, many loyal daughters of Notre Dame do have an atypical itch to bake once in a blue moon. I know I do. It’s gratifying and mostly mindless work, at least when you use Toll House. So it is true that we do have a sporadic tendency to bake. Why else would girls’ dorm kitchens be so well equipped for said past time?

The real question is why do we do it? Is it because we have a strange fear that if we abandon our traditional housewife roles too much we will never achieve that “perfect family” image factored into our ten year plan? Maybe for some. Though that’s reading a lot further into the matter than I think is reasonable. It’s not like we also wear pearls and heels while pulling out brownies for our respective sweethearts.

On my end, though I’m a poor example when it comes to anything traditionally domestic, I bake when necessity calls for it. Like for friends’ birthdays. Honestly there isn’t a more sincere or affordable way to celebrate special days than with homemade sweets. Or in a similar train of thought, baking is especially good for bribery. Please move my furniture; I made cookies. Or help me write a paper; would you like some pie? Honestly no one needs the power of Wonder Woman or femme-bots when you have a killer cake recipe. Okay bad imagery there, but you get what I mean when I say that a “to-die-for” treat can do wonders. Or perhaps, baking is just a nice break from reading and equation solving. It’s comforting in its reminder of home-life when dorm living is getting you down.

Unfortunately for us, baking seems to evoke every Domer girl stereotype there is. Insert joke here about baked goods making us overweight. Insert joke there about Saint Mary’s girls finding the way to our loyal son’s hearts through their stomachs. All distasteful generalizing aside, who really cares? The real question is what’s there to complain about when you get a sweet treat fresh baked with love and care.