Sunday, July 09, 2006

may I rant a moment?

I use regularly. I like having the recipes at hand here far away from my favorite cookbooks, and I generally trust the quality of anything published in Gourmet.

But I am a masochist when it comes to the recipe reviews. I have enough experience and imagination to understand a recipe at first glance -- that is to say, I can read it and critically analyze, "that seems like a lot of butter...." or "I avoid cakes mixed this way", or, "wow, why didn't I think of that?". So, after a recipe has been run through a professional test kitchen 30 times, I figure either adapt the basic gist and take responsibility if my creation is less than stellar, or follow the recipe because the recipe is what I want to make. On epicurious, anyone can write a review of how their version of the recipe turned out, no matter how many deviations from the recipe they've devised. Writing a recipe review of a formula not followed is like writing a book review of a movie. I cannot bear to read, and yet I continue to read, and fume at the likes of: "well, I used American cheese instead of buffalo mozzarella because it's the only thing my kids will eat, and since there was no prosciutto at my grocery store I bought Oscar Meyer ham.... and I have to say, this recipe is terrible. I won't be making it again any time soon."

I imagine these people as having smaller than average heads and short arms. They believe they like to cook but go about it in a vicious, mean-spirited way. They cook in bad faith. They have no sense of even-handedness, no clue which dishes are sacred classics - already perfected by centuries of experience, no olifactory skills. They serve Dr. Pepper at the dinner table. Their kitchen decor is "comfy country". They wear clothing with embroidered Disney figures on denim. They cannot identify the continent on which you'd find Angola. They do not like mushrooms. And they all write recipe reviews, inevitably negative, never imagining that the missing variable is their own skill.

The recipe assassins and defamers will rot in hell.


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