Why Recipes Are Evil

Eating. A very fundamental thing I think we can all agree. Yet more often than not people seem to disregard it. Not overlook it. Simply disregard it. Thankfully, a larger percentage of the population are paying more attention to what they consume. Although eating out can be a great way to socialize and have a pleasurable evening, weekend morning, or late night out it should not replace the essential craft of cooking. Why? Not only does cooking bring you closer to your food, but it allows you to make exactly what your body needs instead of having to chose from a predetermined set of choices, that will hopefully fulfill your quota. It also stimulates a different part of your brain (if you don’t already cook) and hopefully creates a time in which you can share your love for food with others. When someone mentions how time consuming it can be, or how tedious it is to wash the dishes, as the reasons for why they don’t cook I want to go back in time and kill the person who decided to codify recipes. Recipes, my friends, are you foe. If your intention is to cook at home repeat after me: recipes are evil.

Sure, they allow me to recreate a stew that I love eating at grandmas house, or a cake that aunt Betty used to make. NOT! Notice how its not just a stew or a cake. Its grandma’s stew and aunt Betty’s cake. When you enjoy a food it’s not just the food your enjoying, it’s the atmosphere, the company, the weather, the smells, which all together form this sensation that is stored as a memory in your brain.

Basically, all a recipe encompasses, is a guide towards failure. Now, I don’t doubt that you can pull of exactly what that notecard, webpage, or book page are telling you to accomplish. But thats not the recipe, thats your ability to cook.

You know how a recipe is set up? Kind of like a science experiment. First they give you a name of something that should be the end result. Then they list all the stuff you need (which you’re supposed to magically  have stored away in your never ending cabinets, unless you shop using recipes and then I imagine you have boxes of cornstarch and other things you’ll probably never use again.) After listing all the stuff you need, they tell you how to chop it all up, mix it all together, and modify the temperatures of the different ingredients so after a listed amount of time you have what you can now call that big name on the top.

Nothing wrong with that right? Wrong. Because unlike science experiments there are no controls.  These “recipes” assume we all are using the same equipment, live at the same altitude, with the same moisture content in the air, and are equally knowledgable about everything. What if I don’t have a whisk? Or live at high altitude? Or don’t know what emulsification means? Then already the same recipe is bound to be different for someone in Hawaii then someone in New York, or even two next door neighbors in New York with different tools and kitchen appliances. Its no wonder some people hate cooking so much, they try a recipe, and frustrated because “Braised Lamb Shank” didn’t come out they give up. Oh, I almost forgot, where in a recipe does it say “Clean dishes now”? NEVER! So, diligently following the steps before you means you’ll be left with a stack of dirty dishes, which we both know you won’t clean before you eat. And will hate cleaning after you eat, because who wants to clean after they eat? Not me.

If you are a recipe follower and sometimes achieve exactly what you wanted and also had no dishes to clean at the end, thank yourself and your mother for teaching you to cook, the recipe has given you merely an idea of what to do.

So, if not with recipes, how should I cook?

That is a great question with a very simple answer. But I’m not ready to reveal it quite yet. Check back soon for the answer.

P.S. There is some good in recipes. Every recipe is full of potential, we just have to know how to unlock it.


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