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noun [countable]

a person, especially a man, who uses cooking skills to impress friends and potential partners




noun [uncountable]

'Gastrosexuals are a new generation of men who consider cooking more a hobby than a household chore and use their kitchen prowess to seduce women.'

FoodTV, Canada 24th July 2008

'We've had heterosexuals and metrosexuals … Now, apparently, there are gastrosexuals … It's just that a pound to a penny your gastrosexual will use six pans when one will do and then leave you with the washing up.'

Liverpool Echo 25th July 2008

What have the prefixes metro-, retro-, techno-, über-, eco- and contra- got in common?

It is of course the fact that they've each in recent years combined with -sexual to give us a new social demographic, a classification of a particular breed of male or female, whether environmentally-conscious (eco-), socially-aware (über-), classically masculine (retro-), steadfastly single and non-maternal (contra-), gadget-loving (techno-), or 'in touch with his feminine side' (metro-). And now there's a new prefix joining the fold: gastro-. Make way for the gastrosexual, the chap who can charm the women with his culinary expertise.

the archetypal gastrosexual is masculine, upwardly-mobile, and aged between about 25 and 45

Though there is some evidence for the term gastrosexual being used in reference to women, it typically refers to men, the expression emerging from the observation that men are cooking more today than ever before. The suggested reasons for this include the fact that an increased proportion of women now work (e.g. 70% in 2008, compared with 50% in 1961). This has led to a positive demand for more help in the home, and it seems that men prefer to focus on cooking as the most creative and enjoyable aspect of domestic work (relative to cleaning for instance!). Also influential in the rise of the gastrosexual are iconic celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay, appearing on British TV screens on an almost nightly basis and providing inspiration for a growing number of men to see cooking as a hobby rather than a household chore. Gastrosexual role models like Ramsay and Oliver have helped create the perception of cookery as a macho pursuit.

The archetypal gastrosexual is therefore masculine, upwardly-mobile, and aged between about 25 and 45. He is passionate about cooking and the 'rewards' that it might bring, whether this be pleasure, praise or even romance.

Background – gastrosexual

The term gastrosexual is new for 2008, emerging from a report commissioned by PurAsia, a subsidiary of food company Mars Inc. With research revealing a growing trend towards keen and accomplished male cooks, the expression grew out of the realisation that men should be given more consideration as a target market.

Following the lexical mould of metrosexual and its spin-offs, gastrosexual can be used as both a noun and an adjective. There is also some (as yet more limited) evidence for a derived noun gastrosexuality.

The prefix gastro- originates from the Greek word gastē, meaning 'stomach' and appears in words associated with foods and eating (e.g. gastric, gastronomic). Two of its more recent manifestations include the words gastronaut, a person who is adventurous or creative with food, and gastropub, used in British English to describe a pub that serves good quality food.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 23rd September 2008.

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