9 February 1943: While speaking at a Dig for Victory conference, Mr William Mabane said ‘there is no reason why women should cook as badly as they do’

Formal dinner with four adults and two children with man at head of table carving the turkey.

Formal dinner with four adults and two children with man at head of table carving the turkey.
Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Mr. William Mabane, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food, who is a bachelor, declared yesterday: “Fundamentally men are better cooks than women, but this is no reason why some women should cook as badly as they do. Many people in this country have never really tasted vegetables; all they know is the sodden pap produced by over boiling unprotesting vegetables in a bath of water.”

He was speaking at a “dig for victory” conference in London and confessed to doing a little cooking himself. Urging people to study the recipes issued by the Ministry of Food, he said: “Learn how to make the Greek dish we advertised – potato musaka [sic] – and, take a tip from me, add to it a little chopped ham. I made it for a friend. He got a surprise.”

Miss Caroline Haslett, president of the Federation of Business and Professional Women, said to a reporter: “I am ready to admit that the few outstanding men cooks are better, but it must be remembered they have opportunities of climbing to the top that few women have. However good a woman is she knows it is hopeless aiming for the highest jobs because they carry high salaries and hotels prefer to pay high salaries to men. The whole position of women can be changed if we make cookery a worthwhile profession for educated women to follow. For far too long they have had to be content to do the ‘chores’ of the job. I hope that one outcome of Mr. Bevin’s Catering Bill will be a levelling-up of opportunities for women cooks in competition with men. Then we shall have women chefs at the Ritz.”

At a London conference Mr. R. S. Hudson, Minister of Agriculture, also criticised vegetable cooking. While spending the weekend at a “pub” in Lincolnshire, he said, he had had to send back his plate heaped with vegetable so badly cooked as to be uneatable.” No human being, however hungry, could have eaten them,” he declared.

Manchester Guardian, 9 February 1943.

Manchester Guardian, 9 February 1943.

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