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Recipe etiquette


nessa
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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.

i don't know of many people who don't share, say, batali's recipe for bolognese. given that it's in books and on the internet, there doesn't seem to be much reason.

Edited by tommy (log)
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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.

i don't know of many people who don't share, say, batali's recipe for bolognese. given that it's in books and on the internet, there doesn't seem to be much reason.

So why can't we post it here then?

And you're doing nothing (imagine that) to address the underlying ethical disconnect between valuing your own creation too highly to share while not caring about giving away someone else's work when in the real world, it's only your own work you have the right to distribute, unless you've cleared (paid for or gotten explicit permission) the copyright.

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When you have people over for dinner, aren't you "sharing" your recipes? If a dish is particularly good, or unusual, it's bound to spark a discussion of ingredients and technique.

Difficult in those circumstances to say "Just eat and don't ask any questions."

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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One aspect of all this that hasn't been addressed, perhaps because it is the most difficult to pin down, is individual talent and how that affects a dish.

There was a time, soon after the publication of The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, when hundreds, perhaps thousands, of journalists with literary pretensions began writing in the Tom Wolfe manner. The results were not pretty, although Tom Wolfe's style works just fine for Tom Wolfe.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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nessa, I admire your honesty in the face of all this eGullet scrutiny.

As someone else posted, if the recipe will be in an upcoming cookbook, recipe contest, etc, then it may be ok to withhold it temporarily. Otherwise, I guess I see it not so much as letting someone else take credit for your baby, but letting your grown-up baby leave home gracefully.

If you do decide to withhold the recipe, for whatever reason, I beleive that simple, absolute honesty is best for all in the long run: "I'm so flattered that you loved what I made, but for now I'd like to keep it a family secret. I hope you understand."

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

 

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."

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I will always give a recipe when asked. I have accumulated a ton of recipes from various sources; the internet, cookbooks, the newspaper, etc, etc. I doubt if I have any original recipes in my collection. So I don't see where I can hold back something that's not mine.

Additionally, I think you have to consider why you cook, why you are feeding people. It's been noted already, and is worth repeating, that cooking is the best thing you can for a person. If someone enjoys what you have prepared enough to ask how to recreate it, why not share it?

I do worry that they won't make it as good as they remember me making it, but it happens. Or what if they make it better than I did? So what, I'll get feedback from them and maybe it will make the recipe better.

And it was said uppost by Busboy, it's a karma thing. What goes around comes around.

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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.

And they won't talk about you if you lie to their face or leave out an ingredient? They might talk about you anyway!

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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.

Perhaps that is one reason some people don't like to give out their recipes. If there's one thing I've learned from this site, it's that the small details of cooking can make huge differences in how a dish turns out. Or one can change it entirely, leaving out "this" and adding "that" instead. So it becomes a different dish, which might be exactly what the original "owner" is trying to prevent, especially if, out of honesty, you still refer to the dish as "Mary's apple pie" or whatever.

I give out recipes, but then I don't have any old family recipes that I'm trying to preserve. I don't really understand why there's such animosity towards people who prefer not to share their recipes. What is that all about?

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nessa, I admire your honesty in the face of all this eGullet scrutiny.

As someone else posted, if the recipe will be in an upcoming cookbook, recipe contest, etc, then it may be ok to withhold it temporarily. Otherwise, I guess I see it not so much as letting someone else take credit for your baby, but letting your grown-up baby leave home gracefully.

Thanks, Alex.

I must admit I'm a bit surprised at the responses.

On careful consideration, I have exactly one recipe that I do not share. One. I have considered entering it in contests, but... then the cat is out of the bag, folks want the recipe.

I have also thought about earning a living in the culinary world, so this would be a signiture creation should that ever come to pass. (dubious).

Some things are personal, perhaps I can't explain it well. This is a part of me, and I don't need to share the recipe to share its beauty with others. I don't need peope saying ohh wow your culinary talents are unsurpassed, etc etc.

And I sure as hades dont give out recipes missing ingredients.

I enjoy sharing it with people, because it is from my heart and soul.

Maybe I am apprehensive of someone else taking credit for my creation and hard work. Maybe I'm an attention hound, and if it were made by others I'd want it called "Nessa's grandest creation" or something silly. Hey, Alfredo got his sauce named after him.........

I share family recipes, my family has never kept them secret. Grandma made the best icebox spice cookies, and I make and share the recipe every Christmas. Its like her living on through them in an odd twisted way. It brings Dad joy to have that culinary memory, even if they are not the world's most complicated and delicious cookies.

But I don't feel even the slightest bit of remorse for not sharing this *one* recipe.

I create a lot of recipes, use other people's and modify others, and give credit where credit is due.

I make a very simple chocolate chip macaroon that is to die for and everyone raves over it.

My only addition to the recipe was the chocolate chips, the rest of the recipe was on the back of the Baker's coconut bag. I tell everyone who asks, and they all ask, exactly where to get the recipe. I even write it down, its all of 4 ingredients and can't be messed up.

Or so I thought.

Two people who have tried to make them somehow ended up with the macaroons spreading all over hell's half acre instead of staying in little haystacks. I'm at a loss.... I troubleshot with them, consulted, I even offered to let them watch me make them, I swear its not rocket science. They ended up with a gooey mess.

Maybe Y'all can help.

Here:

Take 1 bag coconut flakes

one 14 oz can sweetend condensed milk

dash of vanilla

1 bag semisweet chocolate chips.

Mix in bowl.

Drop in spoonfulls on ungreased cookie sheet or parchment paper.

Bake at 350 until dark golden highlights appear.

Done.

Does having an electric stove versus a gas make a difference?

I have gas, they both had electric.

I figured 350 was 350....?

I love brainstorming with my friends and cooking with my friends and recipe swapping with my friends. And I imagine that there are a couple of friends that I would actually trust with my "baby" if they were to ask. Ok, maybe one. I'd share with my family, if they wanted it. :D I guess its the casual acquaintences and strangers I don't want to share with.

So I remain staunch in keeping a little bit of me to myself.

Edited by nessa (log)
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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.

If it is published, it is fair game. If it is published, then the creator obviously has no problmes with it being shared. What I am saying is, if it is a published recipe, I obviously did not create it, so it is not *my* recipe and not *mine* to keep to myself as though it were my labor of love. so if it is published, it is not mine NOT to share if someone asks for it. If it was given to me in confidence, then naturally I would honor the wishes of the creator.

Intellectual property can be shared, that is the right of the creator. It is also the right of the creator to keep any and all rights to said creation.

So no, I dont *only* share other peoples work. Goodness.

And when I do share other people's recipes, I give credit where credit is due.

You like my truffles? I tried to recreate Torres's. Its in this book, on page yadda yadda. Or more likely, this website, under yadda yadda heading.

If it is out for public consumption, then who am I to horde it, that was the point.

Edited by nessa (log)
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nessa, I admire your honesty in the face of all this eGullet scrutiny.

As someone else posted, if the recipe will be in an upcoming cookbook, recipe contest, etc, then it may be ok to withhold it temporarily. Otherwise, I guess I see it not so much as letting someone else take credit for your baby, but letting your grown-up baby leave home gracefully.

Thanks, Alex.

I must admit I'm a bit surprised at the responses.

On careful consideration, I have exactly one recipe that I do not share. One. I have considered entering it in contests, but... then the cat is out of the bag, folks want the recipe.

I have also thought about earning a living in the culinary world, so this would be a signiture creation should that ever come to pass. (dubious).

So, do we get a hint?

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Tee hee. Sure. Its a dessert.

I'll most likely never be a professional in the culinary world, I don't like the hours.

I'm a social bug and like having my Friday and Saturday nights open for revelry and debauchery. But I do toy with the idea, after all it would be great to get paid to do something that I love. I'm trying to figure out a way to make it happen. I guess if it is important enough to me, I will. :)

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I don't really understand why there's such animosity towards people who prefer not to share their recipes.

Me either. I certainly don't. I do occasionally have people say that it's "special" for some reason or another and it's one they don't give out. And I understand completely. I don't think that makes them a bad person whatsoever.

And when that happens, I just go home and start looking up recipes for whatever preparation it was. Usually there are hundreds and hundres of recipes for any given thing. With my collection of cookbooks, I have never (that I recall) come up completely empty-handed and now, with the internet, it's even easier.

Most of my "recipes" are cobbled together "suggestions" and lists of ingredients anyway, so in pretty short order, I'm making something at least comparable.

I'd much rather have them just say that it's a recipe they prefer not to give out, than to lie about it and leave out a few ingredients. I just don't get that at all.

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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I don't really understand why there's such animosity towards people who prefer not to share their recipes.

Me either. I certainly don't. I do occasionally have people say that it's "special" for some reason or another and it's one they don't give out. And I understand completely. I don't think that makes them a bad person whatsoever.

It's the culinary equivalent of when your friend's new wife won't let him come out for a beer with his old buddies.

Not sure that there's hostility but I think there's an initial bafflement: "I made a reasonable request, and I got blown off. What's up with that?"

I'm not saying there are no reasons not to give out recipes, but a lot of them appear pretty arbitrary, to me.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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But are you going to be angry longer at someone who was upfront and honest, or someone who made you feel like a chump by being evasive or lying? I might be annoyed at someone who was being honest, but at least I wouldn't feel like an idiot for asking them multiple times thinking that they just forgot, and I would get over the initial disappointment. But if they lie to me or avoid me, I'll be less likely to go back for seconds of that kind of treatment.

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But are you going to be angry longer at someone who was upfront and honest, or someone who made you feel like a chump by being evasive or lying? I might be annoyed at someone who was being honest, but at least I wouldn't feel like an idiot for asking them multiple times thinking that they just forgot, and I would get over the initial disappointment. But if they lie to me or avoid me, I'll be less likely to go back for seconds of that kind of treatment.

Absolutely true.

And, as I said, although I don't "avoid" them, I do ask them to please call me at a later and more convenient time. I figure I'm weeding out the "token" requesters, and narrowing them down to the folks who seriously want the recipe badly enough to check back.

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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But are you going to be angry longer at someone who was upfront and honest, or someone who made you feel like a chump by being evasive or lying? I might be annoyed at someone who was being honest, but at least I wouldn't feel like an idiot for asking them multiple times thinking that they just forgot, and I would get over the initial disappointment. But if they lie to me or avoid me, I'll be less likely to go back for seconds of that kind of treatment.

i didn't suggest lying.

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Absolutely true. 

And, as I said, although I don't "avoid" them, I do ask them to please call me at a later and more convenient time.  I figure I'm weeding out the "token" requesters, and narrowing them down to the folks who seriously want the recipe badly enough to check back.

Which totally makes sense. I do the same thing, especially if there are more than five ingredients. My memory isn't that great after a few drinks! But that isn't the same as putting someone off with a "Sure, later" or changing the subject.

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But are you going to be angry longer at someone who was upfront and honest, or someone who made you feel like a chump by being evasive or lying? I might be annoyed at someone who was being honest, but at least I wouldn't feel like an idiot for asking them multiple times thinking that they just forgot, and I would get over the initial disappointment.  But if they lie to me or avoid me, I'll be less likely to go back for seconds of that kind of treatment.

i didn't suggest lying.

I don't think Denise suggested that you had. I think she's just weighing the ramifications of all of the methods discussed on this thread. And I think she's right. Someone may get their nose out of joint if you say, politely, that this is one recipe you, for one reason or another, aren't comfortable sharing.

But that, of the choices discussed here, it seems to be the least-offensive solution.

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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But are you going to be angry longer at someone who was upfront and honest, or someone who made you feel like a chump by being evasive or lying? I might be annoyed at someone who was being honest, but at least I wouldn't feel like an idiot for asking them multiple times thinking that they just forgot, and I would get over the initial disappointment.  But if they lie to me or avoid me, I'll be less likely to go back for seconds of that kind of treatment.

i didn't suggest lying.

Omitting ingrediets or steps is similar to lying, no?

And I definitely am not suggesting that you personally would advocate that. :biggrin:

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But are you going to be angry longer at someone who was upfront and honest, or someone who made you feel like a chump by being evasive or lying? I might be annoyed at someone who was being honest, but at least I wouldn't feel like an idiot for asking them multiple times thinking that they just forgot, and I would get over the initial disappointment.  But if they lie to me or avoid me, I'll be less likely to go back for seconds of that kind of treatment.

Absolutely true.

And, as I said, although I don't "avoid" them, I do ask them to please call me at a later and more convenient time. I figure I'm weeding out the "token" requesters, and narrowing them down to the folks who seriously want the recipe badly enough to check back.

Jaymes definitely has the right idea here about weeding out the serious requests. Last week, I attended an annual holiday event for a women's organization I belong to. Each woman brings either an hors d'oeuvre or a dessert. Happily, the dessert I brought received raves and many, many attendees asked me for the recipe. I had no compunction about sharing it because I got it off the net (originally from Saveur). But I did tell everyone who asked for it to e-mail me, and I would be glad to give it to them. Exactly 2 people followed through. :biggrin:

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