Saturday, February 17, 2007

Alpha Cooks

Ok, so its a fluff article in the NYTimes, but I laughed out loud when I read it because I have dated an alpha cook. At the time, I didn't much appreciate being cowed by my alpha cook lover, in fact, his dictatorial style in the kitchen spilled over into other aspects of our relationship. Moreover, I think it took a year or two before I trusted myself to cook again.

What I find interesting about this "trend" story is the lack of gender analysis.

It was a nice fantasy while it lasted: rather than letting the lady of the house bear the constant burden of cooking dinner, the modern couple would share the work. Husbands would take an interest in casseroles. Wives would slap slabs of meat on the grill. They would read cookbooks and watch the Food Network together. The kitchen would be a peaceful domain equally ruled by two people.

For many couples, this never happened. Instead, wedged there in the kitchen together, they fell into a power dynamic just as unequal and emotionally fraught as the arrangement that puts the female half in a frilly apron. Instead of a partnership, some couples say that their relationship in the kitchen more closely resembles a tiny dictatorship.

The next paragraph segues into a discussion of typical and efficient behavior in high priced restaurants: the chef barks, the sous-chef takes it or is fired. But c'mon, is this the best explanation for alpha cook behavior? Might it have something to do with the unfortunate masculine (I am purposely using this word, rather than male to designate a "gender role") traits, such as the need to dominate, win, be the best?

Rather than enjoying the process of making a meal, cooking among power couples is death-match. Sheesh!