Fruhstücke und Betas

Normally I’m not the fondest of black-and-white takes on anything, unless it’s penguins, or Tintin.


But I staunchly believe in alpha cooks and beta cooks. I am so, so sorry to say that I am an alpha. I really do try to trump it. I fight the daily fight against the obnoxious personality traits associated with the type. It gets very crowded on my shoulders, with the seraphim and the imps of darkness and the scuttling and the duality, bless my soul.

Mostly, I hope that sweetness and light are my guiding principles when I make food with others—yet some things bubble to the surface, filling me with despair. I squirm to list these habits: I have been known to stand behind friends, good cooks in their own right, and watch as they saute onions. My hand spasms when I watch someone ‘over-whisk’ a vinaigrette, stopping before I grab a wrist, before anyone even sees … anyone but GOD, that is. And the evil eye.

It gets worse. I scoff inwardly when I watch people use garlic presses, when they ‘drown’ pasta in sauce, when they ‘caramelize’ onions to a light beige. And don’t even get me started on how people butcher their knives. Actually, please do: I’m a jerk.

The Times article to which I linked focuses on alpha and beta cooks who are in relationships, and nowhere does my eee-vil out itself so well than in how I treat my boyfriend when he cooks. My boyfriend (formerly my activity partner, back when such things were funny) is a hell of a guy. He is kind, clever, whip-smart, and could not resemble an ideal love more closely than if I had gotten him made to order. He’s also how I met the one and only B in the first place.

In the many years we’ve been together, I’ve grabbed pans from him, bumped him out of the way with my hip so I can cut mushrooms, run at a dead sprint through two rooms to ‘correct’ his pomodoro (while he was stirring it), groused at him for buying pre-shredded cheese, water-packed tuna, non-dairy creamer, and more. I was a total virago. Sometimes I still am, on the inside.

In spite of me, he’s managed to become a wonderful cook in his own right. There’s nothing more evident of this than the breakfasts he makes for us. I present to you, first, his cold-brewed iced coffee.

Cold-Cocked Coffee

I love looking at this picture, ordinary though it seems. The amber color of the coffee gleams even in regular pint glasses. In Turkish or Indian-style etched silver tumblers, I bet they would look spectacular. The taste? It echoes faintly of milk and almonds. Utterly wonderful.

This is what we eat alongside the coffee.

Delicious Eggyweggs

He makes it, while I sip my coffee and sniff happily in the direction of the kitchen. I wouldn’t even think of interrupting.

Scrambled Eggs with Yellow Squash, Brown Butter, and Parmesan

Serves 2.


4 eggs

1 yellow squash, quartered and cut in 1/4″ slices

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

salt and pepper, to taste

freshly grated Parmesan cheese


In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter until milk solids begin to turn golden brown. Add squash, and sauté for half a minute. Crack eggs into pan, and allow to sit for a couple of seconds before breaking the yolks and folding eggs around the squash. Allow to sit for another five seconds, and stir once more. Repeat until almost all liquid has evaporated. Remove skillet from heat, plate eggs, and allow to cool slightly before topping with Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Eggs are best when served with a light corona of Tabasco.

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4 Responses to Fruhstücke und Betas

  1. B says:

    “the one and only B”… N, you’re making me blush!

    I personally, feel no shame for being an alpha cook, and as you well know, I’m comfortable letting other alpha cooks into my territory – although occasional headbutting has occurred. I’m so proud of J’s advances in culinary domination… I miss the sound of the coffee grinder in the morning 😦


  2. Caley Walsh says:

    Delicious. New-comer to your blog (found it via Serious Eats). Do tell me more about this cold-brewed coffee! What beans/grounds do you use?

  3. B says:

    N and I both were inspired to try/converted irreconcilably to cold brewed iced coffee after reading this.

    Although I’d like to say we invented it ourselves and have been drinking it for years…that’s not quite true.


  4. N says:

    B’s right, Caley. We’ve got the Times to thank for our foray into cold-brewed waters. It’s so simple to make, however, that I think we’ll continue sailing in said waters. How long can I continue this nautical conceit? Only time will tell, sea dogs….

    I will say this—although I may be a righteous alpha around my kitchen, and B in hers, she and I have never had issues cooking together. We make heavenly and harmonious gustatory music. I mean, shanties. Arrrr.

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