24 August 2007

I Hate Recipes


I understand that your average food blog is supposed to contain recipes and nice pictures of drizzled entrees and bubbly desserts.

I've even thrown in a recipe or two early on.

But get it straight, Jack. And I make no bones about it: I Hate Recipes.

If you can show me a picture of a particular dish and then take me through the steps to make that dish and my dish looks the same as that dish, then something is terribly amiss in the universe.

My reality just don't work like that.

I don't want to make your food. And I don't really want you to make my food.

And above all, I don't want to spend my precious time reading a recipe.

I just wanna cook. And eat.

That's it: I want to cook and eat.

Downtime in cooking is for reading Yeats and Eliot and Beckett and Berryman. For reading mystery novels. For reading interviews with Mark E. Smith. For reading blogs about electric guitars.

I find nothing compelling about reading recipes.

It's about as interesting as reading directions for putting together shelving.

The occasional recipe is alright. Just don't expect to get inundated with them around here.

I think it's got something to do with my childhood.

My teachers noticed early on that despite a quick memory and a 'creative' outlook on life, it was just fundamentally beyond my range of intellectual capabilities to follow directions from point A to point B and produce a product anything remotely like what was intended.

It got to the point of sheer embarrassment just about the time we dissected frogs in 8th grade.

I personally saw no reason why one should check out the digestive system before moving on to the skeletal system. Skeletons are cool. All that digestive stuff just looked icky.

And to this day, I'll swear that my frog had neither a heart nor lungs. I don't care what the instructions said. They weren't there.

I think all this trouble with directions bred in me a deep distrust of anything involving a stated objective and a set of instructions for attaining said objective.

I also get lost easily.

It once took me an hour and twenty minutes to figure out how to get out of the city of Boston by car. And yes, in hindsight maybe I should have realized that I lived only three blocks from the entrance to the Mass Pike.

I don't see hindsight ever using a map.

Which brings me to recipes.

In my jaded opinion, recipes are nothing less than death traps. The death of the pioneer spirit must be directly attributed to the first time someone followed a recipe for making Swedish meatballs.

I don't know. It's probably just me. But I can't think of anyone who’s really made a difference in this world by following someone else's recipe. Even Julia Child threw her own two-cents (and several ounces of sherry) into whatever she happened to be making.

This is my idea of a good recipe:

Spaghetti al fungi

1. Get spaghetti and mushrooms and some other stuff you think is tasty.
2. Do stuff to it.
3. Eat.

There are two important kinds of recipes.

1) Recipies for making wine / destilling moonshine. Do this wrong and you'll have fungus growing out your burned-out esophagus.

2) Recipies for making dangerous dishes like blowfish. I don't know about you, but I'm not eating any amateur blowfish.

This is not to say that some people don't make the most of a recipe. If it works for you, great. But for me, it's like the difference between composed and improvised music. And I've never really had the attention span to concentrate on reading when I could just as well make something with just my ears and fingers.

Of course, no one has to eat my music.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hate recipes too!
I maybe only like watching unreal and most of the time "kitsch" pictures which are attached to recipe text.
Then, watching well made food, I just get desire to call for a home pizza or to go directly to a restaurant.
Bon Appéttit!