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Secret recipes

I don't know of any more appropriate way of saying this, so I'm just going to do it: I hate, hate, the notion of a secret recipe. I don't usually throw the h-word around like that, but this is one instance where I've got to put my foot down. I do not like secret recipes.

The whole idea is sort of ridiculous. Recipes are by nature derivative: rare is the recipe that springs, fully formed, from thin air, without the influence, wisdom, or inspiration of other prior dishes. Recipes were made to be shared. That's how they improve, how they change, how new ideas are formed and older ones made ripe. The way I see it, sharing a recipe is how you pay back fate - in the karmic sense, if you believe in such things - for bringing you something so tasty in the first place. To stop a recipe in its tracks, to label is secret, just seems mean. And isn't cooking about making people, on some level or other, feel good? It seems to me, then, that it only makes sense to give people the means to continue feeling good. By which I mean the recipe.

Anyway, one person can only cook for so many people, but by giving away a recipe, you can become, as word of the recipe spreads far and wide, the Amazing Cook Who Had That Amazing Recipe. Just imagine it. It's our best shot at fame.

Molly Wizenberg, in A Homemade Life

I have to say, I completely agree with Molly. One time I was denied a recipe, and you know what? It didn't feel good. It felt selfish and mean, especially since I knew that the person refusing to give it to me had been taught it by someone else who didn't mind sharing.

Because aftondays shared, I learned how to make marshmallows. Because thinkinthots shared, I make roasted green beans. Because a million and a half food bloggers share, I've made about a million and a half new recipes.

And it feels good to think about the number of people who eat Lemon Cream Pasta because I shared.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 7th, 2012 12:56 pm (UTC)
So true! When someone refuses to share a recipe, it makes me question whether they are actually a Good Cook or simply have a very few recipes (held secret) which make them appear to be a good cook because the recipe is so fab. So, if they shared and others could make one if their signature dishes, the secret could come out that they're only posing as a Good Cook. Truly good cooks have no fear of sharing.
Aug. 7th, 2012 10:41 pm (UTC)
Ha, that's a good point!

I dunno, I guess I'm just not that interested in protecting my "reputation" as a cook. I make stuff; sometimes it's great, sometimes not so great. But if it's good, I want it to be shared because good food makes people happy and happy people make ME happy. :D
Aug. 7th, 2012 01:08 pm (UTC)
What a great quote! Would you mind if I shared it on Facebook? :-)
Aug. 7th, 2012 01:50 pm (UTC)
Please do! :)
Aug. 7th, 2012 01:11 pm (UTC)
YES!!! I totally agree!
Aug. 7th, 2012 10:42 pm (UTC)
So thank you, Rachael, for sharing your marshmallow technique & recipe. If anyone had a reason to protect their secrets, you did. <3
Aug. 9th, 2012 10:16 am (UTC)
Sweetness must be shared!
Aug. 7th, 2012 01:24 pm (UTC)
I think this needs to be shared far and wide.

I keep recipes a secret until I have made them as glorious as possible. After that it's no more fun unless I HAVE shared it. "Super-secret cinnamon rolls that don't involve cinnamon, actually" are still in the process of becoming as glorious as possible, but I'm just DYING to share it. Ha. :-p
Aug. 7th, 2012 01:32 pm (UTC)
I agree. It's so silly and petty to try to keep a recipe secret!
Aug. 7th, 2012 02:16 pm (UTC)
I once new a girl who would share recipes but specifically leave steps/ingredients out, or change things around.. because if you weren't smart/clever/wise/suspicious enough to figure it out, you didn't deserve the recipe.. or something.

We only figured it out after the fact. She told us once that her grandmother does that. Then she graciously shared lots of recipes with friends which all turned out to be disasters and she chalked it up to her own good cooking.

But we seriously think she was a psychopath. Not exaggerating.
Aug. 7th, 2012 03:41 pm (UTC)
Aug. 7th, 2012 03:55 pm (UTC)
Yaaaaaah, she was crazy. Amongst many, many, many things. She drove my roommate and I apart. The crazygirl convinced me that my roommate might have an alcohol problem and that I ought to talk to her parents directly because I knew them better. Meanwhile, crazygirl told my roommate that I thought she was an alcoholic and that I was too overprotective and mothering her. Said roommate was in collej, imbibed once in awhile and didn't really have a problem. Crazygirl told my roommate and me vastly different stories about each other.

Good thing I didn't involve the roommate's parents; I talked to the roommate directly, which started the end of our friendship.. but! .. years later we patched things up, particularly when my roommate realized that crazygirl was crazy.

She also had a cat put down to get back at said roommate. So yes, crazygirl be crazy. The recipe-changing thing was the least of it, but just shows how her manipulation went into every area of her life.
Aug. 9th, 2012 10:36 am (UTC)
Aug. 7th, 2012 10:47 pm (UTC)
That is CRAZY. o_________O
Aug. 7th, 2012 05:13 pm (UTC)
I wholeheartedly agree with this.
Aug. 7th, 2012 07:00 pm (UTC)
Agreed! I love sharing good recipes when people want them! I'm actually making my brother and his fiancee a special cookbook of all my favorites for one of my wedding presents to them. lol
Aug. 7th, 2012 10:48 pm (UTC)
Aw, that's great! I love having recipes that come from someone - so many memories wrapped up in food. :)
Aug. 7th, 2012 08:00 pm (UTC)
I agree!! I always feel complimented when people ask for a recipe! Plus, similar to the enjoyment I get out of seeing others enjoy my food...it makes me feel good when I see others using "my" recipe.

I need to try your lemon pasta dish again. I tried it once, but I think I curdled the cream. :-P
Aug. 7th, 2012 10:49 pm (UTC)
Just don't substitute anything else for the cream. :) I tried it with half-and-half once and it just doesn't work, lol.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 8th, 2012 10:45 am (UTC)
I never thought about it before, but now I have I wholeheartedly agree. When I have a good recipe I get super excited and post about it, and if someone else makes it I am even MORE excited. And yes, that's the way it should be!

My mom has a cookie recipe she has made us all vow not to share, and I won't out of respect for her, but I always thought the secrecy was unnecessary.
Aug. 11th, 2012 06:33 pm (UTC)
Sure, you have to respect other people's requests for secrecy - but I'd be really curious as to the reasons why they want it! I honestly can't think of a good reason unless it's a recipe you developed yourself and are using for profit. =P
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )