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Compiling Recipes

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#1 Andy Lynes

Andy Lynes
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Posted 05 October 2003 - 04:20 AM

Paula, I would be interested to know how you go about selecting recipes to include in your books, both your own recipes and those that have been shared with you by other cooks and chefs. Is it a matter of applying certain criteria to identify those that will make the cut, or is it more a case of finding enough great ones to fill a book?

#2 Wolfert

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 03:51 PM

Hi Andy:
First I want to thank you for hosting this forum. I enjoyed myself enormously. So many of the questions were really provoking. And thank you for your very good question.
Since I believe my books form a kind of "life continuum" of my interest in the Mediterranean region, I don't worry too much about leaving something out of a particular book...since I know I'll be writing another one. Meanwhile, I've never tried to write a definitive book on Mediterranean cuisines, or claimed that I have done so. And I've never really invented a recipe.

The photographer Ansel Adams said "the negative is comparable to the composer's score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways." As you know, a recipe can never quite capture the true taste of a dish. That's the responsibility of the cook. I just try to provide a good blueprint. (Sorry about the mixed metaphors here!) Personally, I don't see much point in writing about food that's been written about by others. The Mediterranean is a huge region. I like to think I can contribute best by breaking new ground.

On the other hand, if there's a recipe that interests me, and it's already in another person's cookbook, and I'm not all that crazy about his/her version, I'll try to turn up something better through field research and then testing in my own kitchen. Of course there's never just one way to make a dish. I continue to believe that if I search long and hard enough, I can come up with the best possible version. I hasten to add that I've been criticized for this; to my amazement, apparently some people prefer a pedestrian version to a version that takes extra time and effort, especially if there're any chef's "fingerprints" on the recipe.

In my view, every step in a recipe should work toward the final result, every nuance has a meaning, and in the end, something wonderful can occur. I have a food-writer colleague (I won't mention her name here) who prides herself highly on her writing, but then tells me "the recipes aren't all that important." I just don't see it that way at all. To me, the recipes are everything! But each to his/her own.
“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.