Sunday, March 21, 2010

Alpha/Beta Cooks? I think I'm both.

"True love is like a salesman at Home Depot. It only comes along once or twice in a lifetime so you gotta grab it. Acknowledging the power of love doesn't make me less of a rationalist, it makes me more of one. 
 --Bill Maher
Chatting with one of my college buddies today, she was commenting at first on how "normal people" respond to cute, cuddly things (I think it was babies).... and then she re-phrased it, probably out of sensititivity to not offending me, and modified, "I mean in general, well, mammals, except for you.... they just dissolve and go all gushy when they're confronted with the babies of any species...Unless they're a Predator... Or you.... Not that I think you're a predator." (I didn't think anybody suspected me of eating anyone's young, and I took the observations good-naturedly. I knew what they meant.)

It's a fair assessment and well-acknowledged truth that I'm not a very emotional or sentimental person -- part of it's the inner Rainman -- and part of it's just personality/nature/nurture. But there are exceptions and they manifest themselves in odd ways sometimes.

Tonight I started reading The Art of Eating In, Cathy Erway's blog-inspired book on "How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove."  In the book, she references a 2007 NYT article about alpha/beta couples in the kitchen. I was surprised to read about all the conflict those couples had, finding that I can flip fairly comfortably back and forth between alpha and beta, despite my usual control issues. Especially in the kitchen.

Like when my brother was here this past week, I was relegated solely to the role of sous chef. I washed and roasted tomatillas; buttered and toasted bread; that kinda thing.  You can read about our 2008 Christmas Dinner Collaboration here.-- where he taught me one does not exit the kitchen without calling out for permission first, "Bathroom Break, Chef?" (The Chef says "Aye.") I love my brother; he is a chef and I am a cook; and I am happy to take orders from him.

Maybe not everybody feels this way, but I am deliriously happy to be in the presence of people who are smarter than I am, or better than I am, at anything. I love to learn new things and the presence of excellence excites me. I do not feel threatened. I do not feel insecure. I feel elated. I don't even mind being told what to do. When the collaborations are instinctive, everyone's game gets elevated and it evolves into a fine-tuned power-ballet, with no conflict at all -- just everything stripped down to the best, raw components of art and architecture.

Food might be THE love of my life -- and I am  always happy when I run across someone who will love it with me, whether he's the boss or I am. Just like a regular mammal. (I'm keeping the Remote though.)

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