Stephanie Smith, a woman trying to cook her way into a marriage proposal through a project called “300 Sandwiches,” is firing back at critics, many of whom call her antics “desperate” and "trivial.” Some have gone as far as to label Smith an anti-feminist. Even prominent women's activists are weighing in, although they don't agree on how they view Smith's blog.
Smith, a New York Post writer in her mid-30s accepted her boyfriend Eric Schulte's challenge: Make him 300 sandwiches, and he’ll buy her an engagement ring. So Smith, who admits to being a cooking neophyte, has spent the past year trying her hand at creating delicacies such as lobster rolls, fried green tomato BLTs, bánh mìs, and lamb with yogurt dill sauce. She’s been chronicling her yearlong project (along with mouthwatering recipes and gorgeous photography) on her blog 300 Sandwiches, and in the process has ignited a fiery debate about relationships, feminism, and how far women should go in the pursuit of happily ever after.
Smith declined to speak to Yahoo Shine; however, on Thursday, she appeared on the "Today Show" to clarify that her boyfriend does the lion’s share of cooking in their Brooklyn home. "And second, if he wasn’t the kind of guy that was worth one sandwich, I wouldn’t be making 300," Smith said. "And plus it was a joke. It was light, it’s funny. Come on, it’s a sandwich. It’s supposed to be just lighthearted." Schulte also spoke up: "Of course, I would have married her without one sandwich,” he said.
Smith also penned a defense called “It’s a Blog, Not a ‘Wich Hunt!” on Thursday in the New York Post in which she insists she’s “no less of a woman” for making her partner 300 sandwiches. She also added that her efforts are not about self-promotion, an attempt to win Schulte's love, or — seemingly inevitable in today’s world — a movie deal.
Some of the most renowned feminists have dipped into the conversation — yet there doesn't seem to be a consensus on whether Smith has helped or hindered feminism with her culinary project. "This is not a feminist issue. This is a serious self-esteem issue," Naomi Wolf told Yahoo Shine. Yet E.J. Graff, senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University and author of What Is a Marriage For? told Yahoo Shine that she disagrees. “Smith is brilliant — she’s found a way to make her mark on the world. Whether or not this blog is meant to be a joke, she's promoting herself and looking for a book and movie deal."
The general public, and some of the author's friends, are also divided. Many were ruffled by Smith’s seemingly urgent calculations. She wrote in her blog: “Ten sandwiches or so in, I did the math. Three sandwiches a week, times four weeks a month, times 12 months a year, meant I wouldn’t be done until I was deep into my 30s. How would I finish 300 sandwiches in time for us to get engaged, married and have babies before I exited my childbearing years?”
Dubious, friends say she’s a “Stepford wife” and call Schulte "chauvinistic." Even Smith's mother expressed doubts. “Relationships are a marathon, not a sprint,” she told her daughter. Others loved the idea. "What's a marriage without a little fun and silliness? #300sandwiches is a sweet gesture. People need to lighten up. Geez," tweeted Damaris Stull. And Jefé wrote, "#300Sandwiches #10000Likes."
Smith started with basic sandwiches and got more creative as she went along. She jokingly dubbed one a "make-up" sandwich: “I made sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. I made sandwiches to get myself out of the doghouse — like No. 67, a scrambled egg, smoked salmon and chive creation that combined some of Eric’s favorite things to make up for my being 45 minutes late for dinner the night before," she wrote in the Post.
Eric's thoughts on the matter didn't help quell the flames. He told Smith, "You women read all these magazines to get advice on how to keep a man, and it’s so easy. We’re not complex. Just do something nice for us. Like make a sandwich.”
Check out one of Smith's recipes below:
“IN THE DOGHOUSE” SCRAMBLED EGG, SMOKED SALMON AND CHIVES
Adapted from the blog 300 Sandwiches, Recipe #67
6 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons chopped chives
2 English muffins
2-3 tablespoons of cream cheese
4-5 slices smoked salmon
1. With a wooden spatula, scramble eggs with a pat of butter in a skillet over low heat until the texture is creamy like a risotto. You may have to take the skillet off the heat a few times to slow the cooking time down.
2. Once the eggs are nice and smooth, place them in a bowl so they don’t continue to cook. Season with salt and pepper and chives, then set aside.
3. Toast your English muffins, then cover them with cream cheese on both sides.
4. On the bottom slice of each, place a few pieces of smoked salmon, along with some eggs on top. Cover with other muffin slice. Makes two sandwiches.