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Crappy Food Writing


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And then there's proofreading. My part-time job in college was proofreader for the local paper. Mind you, this was in the days of hot type and linotypes--in other words, in the very distant past. But it did teach me to spell. My pet peeve is that human eyes apparently never see the content, so the spell checker is only looking for words spelled correctly, not that the word is the correct one. So you get some pretty peculiar usage. Or sometimes there's an ingredient in the instructions that doesn't exist in the ingredient list, or vice versa. Re-reading the recipe doesn't help, because no one at the publishing house even looked at it. This is most common in on-line recipes, in websites that seem to proliferate like rabbits on the internet. The worst offenders are the ones that assume we're all mindless idiots who don't know which end of a spoon to pick up. 

 

Sorry--a little cranky this morning. 

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Formerly "Nancy in CO"

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52 minutes ago, Nancy in Pátzcuaro said:

The worst offenders are the ones that assume we're all mindless idiots who don't know which end of a spoon to pick up. 

And ditto for the websites that show a never ending array of pictures as they explain each and every step.

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23 minutes ago, ElsieD said:

And ditto for the websites that show a never ending array of pictures as they explain each and every step.

This can actually be useful, though, when making a cuisine that is new to you and doesn't do things in a style that is similar.

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2 hours ago, Nancy in Pátzcuaro said:

sometimes there's an ingredient in the instructions that doesn't exist in the ingredient list, or vice versa

 

This just floored me when I ran into it in the cookbook "Baker's Dozen" with recipes by a stellar cast of bakers / writers. The recipe for carrot cake -- which I had never made before, and was making to impress my then-boss -- never said what to do with the grated carrots!

 

(I took my best guess, and I gather the cake went over well, although it didn't help me with that particular working relationship. 😆)

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2 hours ago, KennethT said:

This can actually be useful, though, when making a cuisine that is new to you and doesn't do things in a style that is similar.

True, that.  But I ask myself sometimes, does one really need 3 pictures of onions sautéing in a frying pan?

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I borrowed Ever-Green Vietnamese (Andrea Nguyen) from the library to give it a once-over, what’s nice in her instructions is she will, for example, tell you to dice something the “size of blueberries”, rather than “small”. There are ways to make recipes easier to follow for people of differing skill levels/confidence.

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"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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18 hours ago, BeeZee said:

I borrowed Ever-Green Vietnamese (Andrea Nguyen) from the library to give it a once-over, what’s nice in her instructions is she will, for example, tell you to dice something the “size of blueberries”, rather than “small”. There are ways to make recipes easier to follow for people of differing skill levels/confidence.

I like that--the size of a blueberry. I would also like recipes that tell us actual amounts rather than "a medium onion." And then there's "chili" vs. "chile." One is something you make for a cold night's dinner, and the other is a pepper. 

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13 hours ago, Nancy in Pátzcuaro said:

And then there's "chili" vs. "chile." One is something you make for a cold night's dinner, and the other is a pepper. 

 

History is against you on that one. 'Chili' was used for the pepper for hundreds of years before the dish was concocted. The word for the pepper came from the native Mexican language, Nahuatl which the Spanish, who were apparently extremely hard of hearing, rendered as Chilli. The name 'chile' was erroniously appled to the pepper in 1631 by the Dutch(?) physician, naturalist and writer Jacobus Bontius (1598?-1631) who thought it came from the country Chile, which it didnt. 'Chili' or 'Chilli' is the most commonly used name of the pepper in English worldwide and in other langages. In parts of India it is 'chilly' and I don't mean the weather.

 

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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On 10/17/2021 at 10:12 AM, Maison Rustique said:

I do realize that I'm old and as such, am perceived to not have buying power. It is quite clear that I am not the target market for these magazines. I'm not sure who is their target market, but I hope I never have to spend any time with them.

I think they know you have the buying power.  But also know that that (experienced) buying power is not exploitable.

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On 11/19/2023 at 4:05 PM, BeeZee said:

I borrowed Ever-Green Vietnamese (Andrea Nguyen) from the library to give it a once-over, what’s nice in her instructions is she will, for example, tell you to dice something the “size of blueberries”, rather than “small”. There are ways to make recipes easier to follow for people of differing skill levels/confidence.

Huh. That would irritate the hell out of me, given that high-bush blueberries tend to be 2-3 times the size of low-bush ("wild") blueberries.

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"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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What irritates me most (except antediluvial imperial measurements) is when recipes tell you to cut to the same size as something you've never seen. Just today, some recipe was advising me to cut something to the size of a silver dollar. I, and most of the planet, have never seen any such thing, or any other US coins, for that matter. Don't these people know that  the internet is international?

In revenge, my next earth-shattering cookbook is only going to give measurements in Chinese jiao coins.  Grrr!

 

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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1 hour ago, liuzhou said:

What irritates me most (except antediluvial imperial measurements) is when recipes tell you to cut to the same size as something you've never seen. Just today, some recipe was advising me to cut something to the size of a silver dollar. I, and most of the planet, have never seen any such thing, or any other US coins, for that matter. Don't these people know that  the internet is international?

In revenge, my next earth-shattering cookbook is only going to give measurements in Chinese jiao coins.  Grrr!
 

I'm a frequent reader of tech/science site Ars Technica, and the use of random objects as a proxy for actual measurements (football fields, school buses, etc) is a common source of mockery in the comments section and user forum. This usually takes the form of finding an extremely random object to translate to: whale vertebrae, perhaps, or saxophone reeds, or electronic components ("That works out to 12.73 GTX 4080s!").

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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You think it's bad? In my country there was a corrupt, tax-evading bon-vivant food writer for a paper who dabbed in political writing/commenting. He then interviewed our prime minister by means of e-mail, no less, got it published in the paper... only for it to turn turn out to be (surprise, surprise) a prankster insted of PM. Of course, he retired and incognito opened a website on food & wine where he was publicly accussed by several restauters tha he extorted them for good reviews.

 

And that is the most influential and popular site on dining scene in my country. *facepalm*

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On 11/19/2023 at 9:49 AM, Nancy in Pátzcuaro said:

Or sometimes there's an ingredient in the instructions that doesn't exist in the ingredient list, or vice versa.

 

I recently borrowed, from the library, the book Andaluz: A Food Journey through Southern Spain, by Fiona Dunlop. Despite the author's use of "Journey," a word which I would like to see banished from all forms of writing for, say, the next fifty years, it was an enjoyable read. In fact, tomorrow I'll be making a dinner for some friends incorporating three of the recipes: Duck fillets with almond and pistachio sauce, Black garlic mashed potatoes, and Coffee roasted Medjool dates with labneh. At some point I'll want to make the "Cod, potato, and garlic soup" (Ajo colorãdo), after I resolve the mystery of the absence of garlic in the ingredient list and cooking instructions.

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"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

"Imagine all the food you have eaten in your life and consider that you are simply some of that food, rearranged."  -Max Tegmark, physicist

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

 

"...in the mid-’90s when the internet was coming...there was a tendency to assume that when all the world’s knowledge comes online, everyone will flock to it. It turns out that if you give everyone access to the Library of Congress, what they do is watch videos on TikTok."  -Neil Stephenson, author, in The Atlantic

 

"In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual." -Galileo Galilei, physicist and astronomer

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1 hour ago, liuzhou said:

 

Maybe the fish ate it.

 

That certainly would save some prep time.

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"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

"Imagine all the food you have eaten in your life and consider that you are simply some of that food, rearranged."  -Max Tegmark, physicist

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

 

"...in the mid-’90s when the internet was coming...there was a tendency to assume that when all the world’s knowledge comes online, everyone will flock to it. It turns out that if you give everyone access to the Library of Congress, what they do is watch videos on TikTok."  -Neil Stephenson, author, in The Atlantic

 

"In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual." -Galileo Galilei, physicist and astronomer

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7 hours ago, Alex said:

 

"Journey," a word which I would like to see banished from all forms of writing for, say, the next fifty years,

 

 

I'd add,  litany, laundry list (for lists that do not involve laundry), shopping spree, slather, glug, unpack (meaning to explain).

 

I'll get back to you with more

 

......epicenter (when you really mean center, an epicenter is near/above the center)

Edited by gfweb (log)
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On 11/20/2023 at 10:24 PM, liuzhou said:

 

History is against you on that one. 'Chili' was used for the pepper for hundreds of years before the dish was concocted. The word for the pepper came from the native Mexican language, Nahuatl which the Spanish, who were apparently extremely hard of hearing, rendered as Chilli. The name 'chile' was erroniously appled to the pepper in 1631 by the Dutch(?) physician, naturalist and writer Jacobus Bontius (1598?-1631) who thought it came from the country Chile, which it didnt. 'Chili' or 'Chilli' is the most commonly used name of the pepper in English worldwide and in other langages. In parts of India it is 'chilly' and I don't mean the weather.


I'm a bit suspicious of this etymology for the "chile" spelling, given it's universal in modern Spanish — it seems more likely that the Spanish spelling shifted over time on its own, and then migrated into the US. That said, I didn't quite realize until now how indecisive American usage can be — the pepper is almost always "chile" or "chile pepper," and indeed "chili" by itself would be unambiguously the stew. But at the same time, I don't think I've ever encountered "chile crisp" or "sweet chile sauce"...

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On 1/6/2024 at 7:49 AM, dtremit said:


I'm a bit suspicious of this etymology for the "chile" spelling

 

 

I'm sorry, but it is well-documented. Physician and naturalist, Jacobus Bontius (Jacob de Bondt, 1598–1631) is recorded as writing it in the last year of his life wen he erroneously stated that the name was from Chile in S. America ‘quasi dicas piper a Chile’. Chili or chilli comes from the native Nahuatl language and was first translitered as chīlli. The Spanish later dropped the double 'l'. English retained it.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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I just read this in one error-ridden review site.

 

Quote

Toshiba’s appliances are not made in China. Almost all Toshiba microwaves sold in the United States and Canada are manufactured in China.

 

Thanks. That clarifies everything.

 

 

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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39 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

Thanks. That clarifies everything.

 

Well, yes. It's a perfectly logical statement. Clearly, most microwave ovens sold in the U.S. and Canada aren't appliances. I do wish the writer had told us what they are, though.

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"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

"Imagine all the food you have eaten in your life and consider that you are simply some of that food, rearranged."  -Max Tegmark, physicist

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

 

"...in the mid-’90s when the internet was coming...there was a tendency to assume that when all the world’s knowledge comes online, everyone will flock to it. It turns out that if you give everyone access to the Library of Congress, what they do is watch videos on TikTok."  -Neil Stephenson, author, in The Atlantic

 

"In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual." -Galileo Galilei, physicist and astronomer

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