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Recipes & The Google Map Syndrome


I fell out of love with recipes.


 I skim them from time to time for inspiration but I don’t buy cookbooks anymore. There are very few where I want all the recipes that are in the book. It’s like buying a set of pots when you only need two of those pots and the other four are just taking up space. 

You know the theory that GPS and Google Maps are turning our brains into mush? I believe recipes can be a crutch that enables mental mush. They give you false hope, occasional bouts of suicidal thoughts, random ingredients that you’ll probably never use again and assorted dirty pots and pans. 

There are other reasons that recipes, no matter how well they’ve been tested, will yield different results in different kitchens with different cooks. The number of factors that will influence the outcome of a dish are unlimited. Air pressure, humidity, age and condition of ingredients, oven hot spots, certainly your mood and maybe that old measuring cup you have that is all dented so you only sort of know how much is one cup; these are all going to change your outcome. 

I recently had a conversation with Texu Kim, a South Korean composer who was a Fellow at Civitella this year. He originally studied as a scientist, and we got to talking about the variables when your music is performed. He compared it to an atom…you know the nucleus is there, and the electrons are there, but you just don’t know exactly where they will be at any given moment. It’s the same with cooking. You have the ingredients. You know how you are going to use them and put them together, but random factors are going to change things. Which basically means, cut yourself plenty of slack when you are trying something new. 

The kitchen is where knowledge, practice and intuition all converge. And you need to trust yourself. Not rely on GPS to get you to the dinner table. The beauty of cooking is being able to adapt a recipe to exactly how you like it.

I think we can have more productive conversations about cooking when we discuss techniques, ingredients and inspiration, so you can expect that from us instead of traditional recipes.  If you do want recipes, please check out our Archives for posts and videos!

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