George Schneider German beef rouladen
Doing his fair share of kitchen duties for 43 years
George and Angela Schneider have been sous chefs for each other throughout their 43-year marriage, a simpatico relationship that would scarcely ruffle an eyebrow today.
But back in 1968, when they were first married, gender roles were just beginning to blur. Three years earlier Betty Friedan had published her controversial "The Feminine Mystique" encouraging women to seek new roles and responsibilities, and in '66 she founded the National Organization for Women.
Though the newlyweds were comfortable sharing household chores, they weren't sure how George's tradition-bound father would react to having his son in the kitchen, cooking and washing dishes.
When the senior Schneiders came over for dinner, George helped prepare Thai food, but they agreed that Angela would serve it and take all the credit.
"My father has definite ideas about a man's work and woman's work," laughs George. "When you're in that nervous mode you want to avoid friction."
Before long the young couple 'fessed up and realized their jitters were unfounded. George's father took the news just fine.
"George is more science, I'm more the arts," says Angela, defining their cooking styles.
He likes to cook meat-centric entrees, particularly on the grill and by the book. She likes to prepare fruits, vegetables, stir-fries and desserts and cooks by intuition, pulling together half a dozen leftover ingredients into a side dish or stir-fry.
While he's grilling pork chops, she's using leftover cucumber, tomatoes and onion in a salad with a sweet vinaigrette.
When their three children were young, George volunteered to go grocery shopping with them, a chore he enjoyed. Now in their 60s and living in Antioch, the Schneiders grocery shop together.
"I hate it, but I like being with him," says Angela, who prefers cutting the lawn.
Topping the charts of their favorite meals are Beef Pepper Steak and Beef Rouladen, dishes George learned from his mother. A traditional German dish of rolled stuffed meat, George gives rouladen a twist, filling it with bread stuffing instead of more standard options like mustard, bacon, onion and pickles.
It's a good company dish because it can be prepared ahead of time.
For dessert, Angela might head out back to pick rhubarb for a moist cake topped with sugar and cinnamon, served with vanilla ice cream, creme fraiche or whipped cream.
After dinner the couple typically takes turns cleaning up, too, part of their lifelong habit of sharing the load around the house, and a philosophy they passed on to their daughter and two sons.
"When we got married we agreed to teach our children all the jobs: painting, cooking, cutting the grass, so they would be prepared," says Angela. "We wanted them to have genderless jobs."
Ms. Friedan would be happy to hear it.