Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

When Recipes Go Bad

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

When Recipes Go Bad

Article excerpt

Many years ago I read an article about how to cure constipation. I don't want to go into details here some people are reading this while eating their Cheerios but it involved a bathtub, bathwater and an open drain.

The article made an impression on me because it was such total, unadulterated lunacy. The method involved physics and anatomy, and the man who wrote it clearly had no knowledge of either one. He acknowledged that he was not a doctor and even admitted that he had never personally tried this particular method. But he was sure that it would work.

It wouldn't.

This all happened long before the Internet, with its easily accessible mixture of fact and misinformation. But I am reminded of the article with increasing frequency these days when I look through certain cookbooks.

Some of the recipes I find are, well, lunacy.

A couple of weeks ago, I made a kuku, an Iranian version of a frittata. I was writing a story about eggs, and it looked interesting. At least in theory. Or at least the ingredients looked interesting. But their proportions were clearly, abjectly wrong.

The recipe began with five eggs, which, as far as I could tell, was about the only thing it got right. To those eggs were added 2 cups of finely chopped parsley, 1 cups of finely chopped cilantro, cup of chopped fresh dill and cup of finely chopped chives or scallions, among other ingredients.

Let's do a little math, shall we? That's five cups of herbs that are theoretically being used to flavor five eggs. Because the dish is supposed to serve four, that means each guest is subjected to 1 cups of minced herbs apiece.

Those poor, poor people.

I altered the recipe considerably, adding an egg and cutting way, way back on the herbs. I also lessened the amount of fat, from two full tablespoons of oil or butter per person to a more reasonable tablespoon per person. The dish as I made it turned out to be delightful, instead of a mouthful of herbs dripping in oil.

The difference is that I actually made my recipe. There is no way the woman who wrote the cookbook ever made hers.

It's like someone publishing a cure for constipation without actually trying it. …

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