We’ve all used them. Admit it. Your grandmother’s famous cookie recipe actually came from Nestle Tollhouse ala Phoebe Buffét.
Recipes are a tough subject, because there are always things that seem to get lost in translation. This happens to me everytime I try to write down what I do or did.
Some people believe that a recipe should be followed to the strictest degree while others believe that you must cook from your heart. In order to do this you must throw the rule book out the window, blindfold yourself, tie one arm behind your back and then have someone spin you around until you are dizzy. I imagine that most people find a happy medium and stop short of at least a few of those steps.
The first time I cook something new I find a recipe that looks good and I follow it. Why? I want to get inside the cooks head, their heart and (perhaps most importantly) their palate. Sometimes I am really impressed and file it away in my brain for safe keeping. Other times I “ctrl, alt, delete” it as best as I can. Either way I am using other people’s recipes to add to my experience and knowledge.
It’s normally the SECOND time I make something that I begin to add or subtract things. I begin to craft something of my own…perhaps not fully mine, but to make it mine. This process of tweaking rarely stops (unless I am trying to create an actual recipe) as I love to futz with things. I would never claim to be the most inventive or creative person in the world, but I do believe that the statement I have to make, in this case with food, is important as it is uniquely mine. As such I believe that my interpretation of a dish, while probably not the greatest in the world, is still viable. It’s a like a great piece of music: the notes remain the same, but heart of the piece is found in the delivery.
My goal is to use recipes as a wonderful foundation to build upon; to use them to add to my own knowledge base and to allow someone else’s artistry to affect and inform my own. As a result, I am not anti recipe. I find a nice cozy home in the middle where I can use a recipe to challenge myself, but still have the freedom to cook off the top of my head, or straight from my heart as I did with this pizza.