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Recipe etiquette


nessa
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There are, to my way of thinking, a few good reasons to share recipes.

1. For most of us, no recipe is entirely original. We borrowed from someone else.

2. The person requesting the recipe might well reciprocate.

3. The world can certainly do with more people cooking better meals.

4. At a minimum, the world can certainly do with more people cooking.

those are very good reasons.

do those of you have don't want to share recipes have reasons for that? i can see if you plan on making a career based on the recipe. but if not, why such the fuss?

To be honest, there are very few recipes I am not willing to share. It's always great when someone likes it enough to ask. But there are a couple, that my father made me swear not to pass on to anyone except family.

I loved my father deeply, and so I respect those wishes. :smile:

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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But there are a couple, that my father made me swear not to pass on to anyone except family.

I loved my father deeply, and so I respect those wishes. :smile:

i suppose that's reasonable.

i guess the etiquette, as suggested, would be to say "some of this, a bit of that, i'm not really sure". people aren't dumb. they can take a hint. dilemma resolved.

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To me one of the positive things about cooking and eating is sharing with others.  :smile:

I can't imagine not wanting to share a recipe.

I completely agree. Feeding someone is one of the most nurturing and giving acts you can perform, and I think sharing recipes is an extention of that. I don't really understand why you would want to keep a recipe to yourself. One recipe that people frequently ask for I got from a friend, who got it from a friend, etc.

Kim WB, great story. Who knew that a box of cranberry loaf mix could lead to such a happy ending.

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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Many years ago, when I was a mere 20 year-old whippersnapper, I was at an office pot-luck party and asked someone for their recipe. She said it was an old family recipe, and she wouldn't give it to anyone for that reason. At the time I was a bit stunned, I remember. (Yes, I still remember.) I had never encountered such a thing before, not sharing a recipe. I felt it was sort of like not sharing food. Bad analogy, of course, because she was sharing food. Lots of it, in fact. So stinginess and/or selfishness does not seem to be part of the equation. I guess it's a desire to preserve something of oneself, one's family, one's history, intact. I can't really fault it, even if I don't fully understand it. I don't do the same thing with recipes, but if I thought about it (and I'm sure I will), I'm sure I could think of other things I'm unwilling to share. Most of us have things we want to keep for ourselves, for whatever reasons.

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I've been a speechwriter for many years, and have many times been asked (and asked others, in turn) by someone if they could "steal" part of someting I have written and have always been been happy to let it happen. Why? It's flattering. I think there's a camraderie among those of us who have the same vocation, or avocation that should be honored. It doesn't cost me a dime. It's a deposite in the karma bank. And I am convinved on a fundamental level that what goes around comes around.

Speaking less obliquely regarding recipes, if Thomas Keller, Mario Battaglia and and every other chef with a couple of stars and an agent can pass their secrets on to me, I'm happy to pass mine onto whoever asks.

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I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I guess it's a desire to preserve something of oneself, one's family, one's history, intact.

But sharing it does not render it any less intact. In fact, I would think that sharing it ensures that it will endure.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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I'm sure this is by no means always the case, but it would be interesting to know how many of these closely guarded "family" recipes were actually cadged from a newspaper, magazine or cookbook.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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Given that my super-secret chocolate chip cookie recipe is clearly printed on every bag of Nestle's Semi-Sweet morsels, I'd say a lot. :wink:

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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Like everyone else, I think it's flattering when someone asks for recipe.

For the recipes that I get from others, I always give out the appropriate acknowledgements. There's Ethel B's fruity chicken, Riva's noodle kugel, etc. To me it's way of paying thanks to all those who contributed to my repetoire.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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I always give out my recipes, or if it's from a book, tell which book. Maybe they will make it for someone who likes it enough to ask for the recipe. :smile: But then again, I'm not a famous cookbook author.

And many many of our family recipes came from Ladies Home Journal or the like. :smile:

Edited by hjshorter (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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I was dating this great guy in High school, and wanted to impress him mother.  So I made a Cranberry quickbread mix from the box, and passed it off as my own...

Kim, what a terrific story!

Put me down as another member of the Sharing Club. Since I don't cook for a living, and I'm not in one of those "who's got the best pie at the church social?" competitive situations, I'm happy to share recipes. The whole notion of a secret recipe (ancient family or otherwise) strikes me as silly.

Let's remember, too, that often asking for recipes isn't about actually making the recipe; it's a way to praise your friend's cooking. I've asked for recipes that I've been pretty sure I'd never cook, and I'm sure I've given out recipes that were never made.

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The whole notion of a secret recipe (ancient family or otherwise) strikes me as silly.

it's clearly not silly to others. and it sounds like those people have given it considerable thought.

but i can't think of, nor has anyone presented, another reason to not share. i'm looking forward to more!

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I get more annoyed at the work involved in copying the recipe for them than giving it to them.

Not only that but when you go to another function and they make your dish. Badly I might ad and then tell other guests that it is your recipe. Or conversely they make it well and claim it themselves.

Living hard will take its toll...
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The whole notion of a secret recipe (ancient family or otherwise) strikes me as silly.

it's clearly not silly to others. and it sounds like those people have given it considerable thought.

You're right; it's not fair for me to dump on others' family traditions.

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I get more annoyed at the work involved in copying the recipe for them than giving it to them.

Or conversely they make it well and claim it themselves.

That's happened to me. I blew their cover though.

As for keeping a recipe secret that you had no hand in, I don't see the point of that.

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I share. For one thing, things usually taste different when made by a different pair of hands. Take the Nestle Tollhouse recipe. If 3 people make it, you're liable to end up with 3 different chocolate chip cookies. Sure, the ingredients are the same, but people do things different. I'm always curious to see how a recipe will taste when made by someone else. In some cases, the person I've given it to has made their own variations and improved it. What good is there in *not* sharing?

I kind of understand if someone is selling baked goods for profit. But I have a good collection of "top secret" recipes and having them does not keep me from buying the ready-made product.

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I brought a potful of a green seitan chili to a vegan gathering once. I had requests for the recipe from some of the kids there, and since I didn't really have a recipe, it took forever to cobble one together. It had to include things like how to make green chile gravy from fresh peppers, how to cook the beans, and how to make the peculiar type of seitan that ended up in the dish. So much prep! For me, it wasn't too tough, as I did it over a period of days, but I hope they didn't really try the recipe, because they probably would have been overwhelmed.

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I get asked for recipes a lot.

One thing I would NEVER do is to tell someone, "sure, here you go" and then leave out an ingredient or two. What's the point of that? It's dishonest. If it's a recipe I'd rather not give out, I say, "Oh, I'd love to, but it's a family secret and I promised." That's far more honest than leaving something out, which is just plain deceitful and to no good purpose. Furthermore, it's unkind. If you don't want to give out a recipe then have the balls to say so. You don't have to lie as to the reason, either. Just say, "I'm so glad you enjoyed it, but that's a special one that I'd prefer not to give out." Say it with a smile, and not in a snippy manner. I'm sure people would rather you do that than have them struggle and worry and try and experiment and waste money on ingredients and have the thing not turn out. Especially if they trusted you and were preparing it for some sort of important occasion. That's just plain mean. And it doesn't make you some sort of "cutsey mischievious" -- it makes you an ass.

I only have a few recipes that I don't give out and, with only two or three exceptions, it's because I gave my word that I wouldn't. So I don't. Some of the recipes came from friends that are professional chefs (which, like the earlier example, has to do with their earning a living and is a completely different matter), and one is from a woman that enters cooking contests and state fairs.

The only thing that I do is that I make an effort to be certain that the person requesting the recipe is serious about it. I do something similar to what another poster said. I make them ask twice. I tell them to please give me a call at a later, more convenient, time and I'll write it out for them. If they do remember and take the time to call, I give it to them.

For the most part, I figure that if I really enjoy a dish, I don't enjoy it any less because I've shared. I mean it's not like some superstitious native that thinks if someone takes their picture, they're stealing a part of their soul. My dish still tastes as good and I still get the same enjoyment from it. It's not like giving away the recipe steals away part of the flavor.

And more than once, I've misplaced a recipe, but was able to recall a friend to whom I had given it. So that was an added benefit.

I'll tell you something on this topic that I think is kind of amusing. Someone mentioned being in a small town and having to entertain a lot and getting a few recipes that you're famous for. Well, a military base is a lot like a small town, and the entertaining is fast, furious, constant and competitive. So there are "combat recipe-swapping" rules. That is, if you get something that is really good, quick, easy, and it becomes your "thing," and someone asks you for the recipe, the unwritten rule is that they can't make it and serve it to guests until either you get transferred away or they do. :biggrin:

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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If it's a recipe I'd rather not give out, I say, "Oh, I'd love to, but it's a family secret and I promised." That's far more honest than leaving something out, which is just plain deceitful and to no good purpose. Furthermore, it's unkind. If you don't want to give out a recipe then have the balls to say so. You don't have to lie as to the reason, either. Just say, "I'm so glad you enjoyed it, but that's a special one that I'd prefer not to give out." Say it with a smile, and not in a snippy manner. I'm sure people would rather you do that than have them struggle and worry and try and experiment and waste money on ingredients and have the thing not turn out.

judging from some of the comments on this thread, that approach wouldn't fly, and you'd end up getting talking about and dissed by that person.

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I guess I see some of my creations as being my babies and don't want someone else taking credit for my work. If I didn't create the recipe then its not mine to NOT share.

So you'll only share other people's work? That's an interesting application of intellectual property rights and ethics.

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I guess I see some of my creations as being my babies and don't want someone else taking credit for my work.   If I didn't create the recipe then its not mine to NOT share.

So you'll only share other people's work? That's an interesting application of intellectual property rights and ethics.

errr, perhaps she meant that if she got it from a book, TV, class, or one of many other sources, then it's not hers to share.

Edited by tommy (log)
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We have an esteemed member here :huh: who is frequently asked for the recipes for the fabulous creations we are privileged to taste. She declines, she MUST decline, because those recipes are the basis of her business. That is fair, IMO.

But we also have the esteemed member who shared recipes from his yet to be published book. Think will hurt or boost his sales when it finally gets published (when is that anyway?)?

I share. The only reason I wouldn't is if it had been told to me in confidence, then the onus is on me to keep the secret no matter how silly I might think it is. If I were making money off of it then I'd have to think about how much disclosing the recipe would hurt my business. Which I suppose depends on what percentage of sales are derived from that recipe and whether it would be worth it to my customers to make it themselves. A lot of restaurants don't have much trouble giving them out though.

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I guess I see some of my creations as being my babies and don't want someone else taking credit for my work.   If I didn't create the recipe then its not mine to NOT share.

So you'll only share other people's work? That's an interesting application of intellectual property rights and ethics.

errr, perhaps she meant that if she god it from a book, TV, class, or one of many other sources, then it's not hers to share.

No, I think it reads that her original creations are hers, while stuff she got elsewhere is fair game for dissemination. Which is, of course, completely contrary to how intellectual property works in the real world.

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