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Feb 14, 2007 11:19 AM

Are you an Alpha or A Beta in the kitchen?

I just read the delightful article by Katherine Wheelock in today's New York Times : "He Cooks. She Stews. It’s Love." And I have to admit, I am an Alpha. While I do not browbeat (I hope!) my mate when he helps, I have been known to gently take over a task because watching him do it is too painful. And I also gracefully and with much appeciation,eat lopsided, slightly burnt breakfast pancakes on weekends.

So CHers which are you? And how does it work for you, or are you still in negotiations in the kitchen?

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  1. Alpha at home. DH is pretty clueless in cooking so his main job in the kitchen is to clean up which is fine with both of us. He reheats food I've already cooked, and does fairly simple prep jobs usually when I'm not home yet. He's quite happy to have me take over. I ask his opinion about what to make, he tastes for me when I ask but other than that he cleans up and eats.

    I'm a Beta in anyone else's home. Hate cooking in strange kitchens with knives that don't suit me, stoves with different heating rates, pots that don't work etc. So I'm happy to peel carrots and take orders.

    7 Replies
    1. re: cheryl_h

      I actually like the challenge of cooking in other peoples homes, forces me to be creative and in the moment.

      1. re: tigerbitesman

        Some are more challenging than others. The pasta fritatta I tried to make in a cousin's home comes to mind. No one told me that all the eggs in the carton had been previously hard-boiled. Silly me.

      2. re: cheryl_h

        Cheryl H, you and I are kitchen twins separated at birth -- and our husbands are as well. I don't like cooking in other people's kitchens either. In fact, I'm one of the few people who doesn't particularly enjoying hanging out in other people's kitchens, standing in the way while they try to put the last touches on a meal.

        I also am the increasingly rare species who doesn't care for open floor plans. I think the kitchen and the dining room should have a wall between them. While lifestyle magazines often show beautiful guests lounging at the counter, sipping wine and munching beautiful hors d'oeuvres while the gorgeous hostess does a few neat things in the immaculate kitchen, that's not reality. When cooking, I clean up as well as I can as a go along, but at the end, there are dirty pots and pans, mixing bowls and assorted used implements in my kitchen. I don't think they are attractive, and I don't think other people's are either.

        1. re: ClaireWalter

          Agree totally. I don't like people in my way when I'm working and I don't like standing around trying to make conversation when someone's obviously preoccupied.

          1. re: ClaireWalter

            Well I'm with you - stay out of my kitchen and let me be!

            I do have an open floor plan, but I also have the the opening to my kitchen from living and dining room equiped with pocket doors.

            When I have people over they are closed when I'm getting things ready, and when done. Don't need to see the mess while eating.

            I have a small kitchen with a prep island in the center, and I hate having to move people around it out my way while trying to get things done.

            But I have no problem helping out in other's kitchens, but always ask first if they mind.

            1. re: ClaireWalter

              Claire, there's at least one other person who doesn't like open floor plans -- ME! get that kitchen behind closed doors, or call it a bar but not both.

              1. re: ClaireWalter

                Ditto this. I do not like helping other people when they're preparing dinner and I do NOT want help when preparing mine. All those articles that suggest "have your dinner guests help prepare the meal..." BAH! I don't want their help! I want them to walk in, have a cocktail, relax and enjoy themselves. Likewise, I don't want help cleaning up. Our kitchen is tiny and extra folks in there are just in the way of everything I need to get to. But I'd rather have it that way than have an open floor plan - I want the kitchen separated from the dining and living area.

            2. Mrs Jfood finally told me to let he cook without hovering many years ago. Now my big mouth is used only to eat her wonderful cooking. When I cook she is usually doing her own thing as well.

              This mutual "leave me to cook" plan has created a wonderful atmosphere, allowed each of us to develop our mutual cooking skills at our own respective pace, and has led to wonderful meals. We have totally different views on cooking and boy has this worked over the last 26 years.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jfood

                My girlfriend loves to cook but is less experienced, after a few attempts at sharing the kitchen I was banned. Now shes able to learn from experience and by making mistakes and we're able to share the kitchen better when need be. We kind of review the food at the table together regardless of who cooked, we learn from each other and feel less and less guilty about the inevitable dinner flops.

              2. Alpha with one day off a week. Dh cooks on Thurs. We negotiated the kitchen detail a long, long time ago. Typically, I cook and dh sets the table, opens the wine, selects the music and gathers the kids. Now that I have an alpha teen :o) he handles dinner on Wed.

                I'm a Beta when dining elsewhere (including restaurants) or when a personal chef is hired to cook in our home (special occasions).

                1. Alpha. My boyfriend always stands by and offers to help, but I prefer to do it all on my own.

                  1. I'm an Alpha. I come from a long line of bossy Italian women. In the kitchen (and just about everywhere else), we rule as benevolent dictators. Though I have abdicated authority of the grill to my husband. He's the best sous chef a girl could ask for....and he's a rock star when it comes to cleaning up the kitchen (I'm not allowed to touch the dishwasher - apparently I do it wrong). I'd like to think we're a pretty good fit.

                    The only time I run in to problems is when the Italian side of my family gets together - talk about a power struggle!!! We're all getting together soon to teach the next generation the family recipes - it should be great entertainment for the crazy fools who married in to our family.