Sunday, June 1, 2014

Repost: Tazi's Corner #60 - 4 Complaints (And 1 Compliment) About "300 Sandwiches"

Dear Readers:

I have been reading a lot lately about the blog 300 Sandwiches, and I have to say I am disappointed. For starters, with a title like “300 Sandwiches” I thought the blog would be about Spartan cooking; alas and alack, it was not. It is about a woman’s quest to earn an engagement ring from her boyfriend (who, incidentally is a professional chef), who has basically told her that if she learned to cook he would marry her; that she was “300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring”. The comment was an offhand one, so I can forgive the sexism that sometimes infiltrates long-term relationships, but the author – a writer for the most glorious newspaper feature ever, Page Six of the New York Post, took the guy seriously and started her campaign for marriage because her biological clock was (cue the Marisa Tomei visuals) TICKING, TICKING, TICKING!

Now I like me a good sandwich (even if I am not as ballsy as my big brother, Koko Kat, who has been known to jump up on the dining table and latch on to the tail end of a turkey sub), so I will admit to salivating over some of the photos I saw on the 300 Sandwiches Pinterest board…yet I was still left with a bad taste in my mouth over the whole concept of it, starting with the pressure Stephanie Smith, the author, feels to make these amazing works of art. She is not the chef, her boyfriend is; yet he wants her to prepare his meals when he is too tired to cook (in complete disregard that she may be equally tired). I can understand that after a full day of cooking the last thing he may want to do is come home and cook some more, but Smith has also put in a full day at work – and sometimes has to go out again at night, yet must pull off the construction of an artisan sandwich in heels and a party dress like she is some kind of modern-day June Cleaver.

You mean you don't wear heels and pearls to do the dusting?

My personal belief is that everyone – regardless of sex or gender – should know how to passably cook, even if they do not enjoy cooking. The fact of the matter is that there will come a time when you will be forced to prepare your own meals, be it because it is after midnight and the pizza delivery guy has gone home for the night or because you have been widowed after decades upon decades of marriage and will now follow your spouse in death if you do not learn how to prepare a ptomaine-free steak. Even I, with my lack of opposable thumbs, have learned that a meal can be secured if only I have the patience to chew through the bag of cat cereal! (Incidentally, I learned this shortly after learning that the humans do not think that 2 AM is the ideal time to fill my bowl). For this reason, I am happy that Ms. Smith is finally learning to cook, even if she never learns to love it. Her motivation is what concerns me, though.
Diet, schmiet!

Decades ago the late, great Ann Landers printed a list of rules for a happy marriage that a reader sent to her; she reprinted it in the 1980’s so a more enlightened America could have a good laugh over rules like “greet your husband with a drink and his newspaper when he gets home from work” and “stay a size 10 forever” (for the record, Ann’s 12 Rules were much more egalitarian).  While these “Reader’s Rules” may have flown when a woman’s only job was to be a homemaker and to look great while doing it, nowadays women work outside the home as well, and should not be expected to meet the antiquated standards of previous generations – yet this is the exact standard that the idea behind the 300 Sandwiches plan promotes. If this dynamic works for Smith and her boyfriend, than I believe that is their business, but her choice to publicize it makes it the public’s business, giving us the right to mind it. I argue that he made a sexist comment, she bought it, and now she must own the debate that surrounds it, criticisms and all.

In every relationship there are things one partner would love to change about the other. It has often been said that a man marries a woman hoping she will not change and that a woman marries a man and hopes that he will, thus explaining the high divorce rate in America because you cannot force someone to change without resentment building between the two of you; change needs to be something you strive for because you want it, with no outside strings attached. In the case of Smith and her 300 Sandwiches, an engagement ring is the carrot dangling from this particular string. This brings me to my final concern: the example this highly publicized plan sets.

All relationships demand compromise in order to run smoothly, but these compromises should be made from without, not from within. You should not have to change who you are in order to be pleasing to your mate; your mate should love you for who are, not in spite of who you are. While the point behind 300 Sandwiches is that cooking is a show of love, it should not be a forced show of love, an obligation to be met in return for the highest form of commitment one partner can make to the other. If Smith’s boyfriend wants to marry her, his proposal should not be because she has jumped through some kind of hoop to meet some kind of obligation he has set. What if, after the 300th sandwich is presented to him, he is just not ready to follow through with his end of the deal and he leaves her over the pressure to fulfill a very public arrangement? What if he says yes to marriage but no to children, her ideal goal? Will she have to make another 300 sandwiches and hope he changes his mind? What about after the kids are born and she can’t lose the baby weight? Will the next sensational blog be about a woman who was too heavy for her partner, who in turn offered to marry her/agreed not to divorce her if she lost weight? Such conditional caveats are not the basis for a healthy marriage, yet popularize the idea that men can all be bought for the right price. Is the way to a man’s heart through his stomach? Do all men think with their genitals? Quite frankly, I think more men should be speaking up about how insulting this “300 Sandwiches” arrangement actually is!



Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.


  1. I really like your blog!! It was meaningful and well-written! All I can say is good luck with that Ms. Smith! She can have him. If my boyfriend put a stipulation like that on our engagement, he wouldn't be my boyfriend anymore!! They are sending a bad meaasge by publicizing it!! Keep up the good work!

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