Thursday, February 15, 2007

No Place for Love in the Kitchen!

I was reading this article in the New York Times about couple-dynamics in the kitchen. The article maintains that often the better cook becomes the "Alpha Chef" while the "Beta Chef" is often the victim of criticism and the usual (Professional Kitchen) hierarchy and abuse.
I started disseminating the cooking relationships in my life.
I have been in relationships with two chefs. The first chef was a much better cook than I, and I happily let him cook most nights, while I assisted or made something nearer to my abilities: Baking. We ate a lot, we gained weight, and although we mostly ate at the restaurants of our employ, I think we had an easiness in the kitchen. After all, we had met in culinary school and had first been attracted to each other because of our instant easy working chemistry. I learned a lot from him, and although we have been parted for quite a few years, we follow each others careers, and the other day he called me in a panic for a tart dough recipe.
My recent ex-boyfriend is also an excellent chef. He used to come over with groceries and prepare wonderful meals. He also used to ask my advice on subjects I knew better than he: Baking, rolling sushi, food history and the like... But he also used to drink too much and then lecture me on my chopping technique, and he would be overwhelmed with guilt when he inadvertently broke something.
I loved this article, because I have often found ice cream to be a metaphor in a relationship: Share a pint or scoop into bowls? Equal portions? Flavors? Who gets to choose the flavors? Who holds the pint? Separate spoons or shared spoons?
I had one ex with whom I couldn't share ice cream: We were too competitive. I had another ex who liked to wear the ice cream. That was fun. But messy! I once predicted the breakup of a couple due to anger and repressed sexual tension: They shared a pint and a spoon, and passed it back and forth by stabbing the spoon viciously into the pint.
It is often said that you can taste the love in a dish, as if we are all living in a scene from "Like Water for Chocolate" or something. But sometimes other emotions are involved: Jealousy, Control, Competitiveness, Sexual tension, and pre-existing relationship power dynamics. Sometimes the meal isn't about lovingly providing for your family's health. Sometimes it is for praise, revenge, or power.
Watch what you communicate, and watch what you eat!

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