a year in food and life

Being the beta cook February 23, 2007

Filed under: Musings — superspark @ 2:51 pm

I just had my first (half) day of gainful employment since finishing my PhD and you’ll rarely find someone so happy to commute for an hour each way in heavy traffic to go to meetings and sit in an office. Seriously. I know it will get old pretty soon, but I am reveling in the feeling of once again having some responsibilities and being a productive citizen.  Perhaps I’ve been brainwashed with a puritan work ethic, but staying at home was just not for me. I don’t know how people do it. Obviously cooking was one of my prime pursuits, and one of the most enjoyable aspects of my unemployed life.  I’d imagine I’ll now have less time to cook, unfortunately, and having commandeered the kitchen over the last few months, Dylan and I will go back to a more equitable balance. But cooking together? I’m not so sure…

Last week’s New York Times ran an article, He Cooks. She Stews. It’s Love, describing clashing kitchen dynamics in couples who share cooking duties.  So-called alpha cooks tend to dominate in the kitchen, leaving their betas feeling like inept sous-chefs.  Meanwhile the alphas, apparently, grow resentful of feeling like they have to check up on everything their partner does.  The article, alas, is no longer available to read free online through the NYT, but seems to be posted here, and is, in many ways, eerily reminiscent of the scene at our house.  Dylan is definitely the chef in our family, with a creative palate, a can-do attitude, and a solid cooking background.  He is also an irrepressible instructor, which is what ends up transforming him into the alpha in our kitchen, and me the tooth-gritting beta cook.  I fully admit that he knows way more than I do when it comes to cooking technique, but when he starts critiquing things like the way I slice bread, my feathers get a little ruffled.  I mean, having managed to make it to age 30, I think I can cut myself a slice of bread, no? Or say, fill up an ice cube tray myself.  Do I really need instruction on proper fill height?

But it’s quite clear that Dylan, a constant self-improver, only means the best by it.  Had I novel and time-saving culinary techniques to share, he’d be the first to ask me to show them to him.  And if his interest in perfecting things extends to the way the ice cube tray is filled, so be it.  Like many of the couples in the New York Times story, the best solution for us seems to be to let each other have our space in the kitchen, so that if he presides over lunch, I do dinner.  In the end, I know how lucky I am to have a husband who loves to cook and makes such wonderful meals.  Even if he is an alpha.


One Response to “Being the beta cook”

  1. The very core of your writing while sounding agreeable initially, did not work well with me personally after some time. Somewhere within the sentences you managed to make me a believer but only for a very short while. I nevertheless have got a problem with your jumps in logic and one might do nicely to help fill in all those gaps. In the event you can accomplish that, I will undoubtedly end up being fascinated.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s