This article made me feel like this:
YOLANDA EDWARDS was at a friend’s house in Brooklyn for dinner when the hostess asked her to pull out a pot for boiling pasta. Ms. Edwards froze. As her friend looked at her in disbelief, she said she was not up to the job.
“I used to think I was a good cook,” said Ms. Edwards, an editor at the parenting magazine Cookie. “But my husband’s a kitchen bully. He’s so critical, I second-guess myself now.”
Oh, those crazy-in-love kids!
Actually, the arrangement sounds abusive to me. Here’s a perfectly competent woman who begins to second-guess herself under whithering scorn from her husband. But it’s cute and funny because it’s in the kitchen, a woman’s natural domain!
We’ll even give it a darling Style-section-worthy hook: Alpha cooks! Beta cooks! Let’s call the whole thing off!
“I have no problem admitting that I’m an alpha,” said her husband, Matthew Hranek, a photographer. “Yolanda wouldn’t know a corked bottle of wine if you put it in front of her. When we met, she had four days’ worth of dishes in her sink, most of which had what looked like black bean on them. Ever since then, I’ve cooked for her.”
He had to save her from her own low standards, you see. So now she’s gone from eating black beans to a steady diet of scorn and humiliation to go with the “restaurant-quality wild mushroom risotto on a Tuesday night.” And striking back with passive-aggression:
So, over time, an embattled beta will find ways to level the playing field, ways that do not involve wresting the meat thermometer from the alpha’s hand. This is the case with Ms. Edwards, who may have lost the ability to choose a pasta pot when put on the spot, but who has carved out a particular position of power of her own.
For one, she makes oatmeal and eggs that her 3-year-old daughter prefers to anything her husband cooks.
She also discovered the beta’s best weapon, and the secret to living with an alpha cook: criticism. An alpha is nothing without a beta.
“I couldn’t strive to be good without her,” said Mr. Hranek, her husband. “If she’s not happy with the food, I’m devastated.”
Though there are some female professional chefs featured in the article as examples of alpha cooks, most examples of this kind of bullying are of men who can’t let go of the idea that the carrots might not be julienned just so — but can’t seem to just do it themselves rather than enlist a partner to take direction and, inevitably, criticism. And, strangely, some of the women express guilt at “letting” their partners do all the cooking after they’ve decided it’s not worth sharing kitchen space. Those culturally-enforced gender roles do die hard.
Kinda makes me glad I live alone.