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Historia Crítica

versão impressa ISSN 0121-1617


GARAZI, Débora. Cooking, the Public Space and Gender: Work in Hotel Kitchens (Mar del Plata, second half of the 20th Century). hist.crit. [online]. 2019, n.71, pp.113-133. ISSN 0121-1617.


This article deals with the way in which cooking, the public space and gender were linked, on the basis of an analysis of work in the kitchens of the hotel sector in the city of Mar del Plata (Argentina), in the second half of the 20th century.


In Argentina, historical studies have usually focused on domestic kitchens and the working experiences which took place in them, which were associated with the figures of both the housewife and the domestic servant. However, in this article, our interest is focused on the work undertaken in kitchens belonging to hotels of different categories, which enables us to make visible the tensions which arise when an activity traditionally associated with the domestic sphere is carried out in the public and “productive” sphere. In that regard, it provides us with an understanding of the hierarchies established in this activity, which were anchored in the gender of the person who carried it out, and the “splitting” of culinary knowledge between haute cuisine and domestic or everyday cooking.


This investigation followed a qualitative kind of methodology. Data gathered from a fragmented and heterogeneous set of sources were linked: interviews, collective bargaining agreements, manuals of the hotel industry, the rulings of labor courts and classified ads.


We reached the conclusion that the hotel trade in Mar del Plata clearly showed a sexual division of labor, even in the same field, which reaffirmed the opposition between female domesticity versus male productivity which is characteristic of modernity. In the public space, women were allowed to run a kitchen when the activity was not that different from that done on the domestic scale, but when the activity reached “industrial” volumes, it was the exclusive province of men. For women, cooking was a job, while for men it was a profession.

Palavras-chave : cooking; work; profession; gender; domestic space; public space.

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