Sunday, April 06, 2008

Recipe Etiquette

I'm quite food-oriented. Food seems to be a primary source for both enjoying God's blessings, and blessing others, so I feel justified in using a large amount of brain space to think on edible matters.

I have a general Recipe Philosophy which I always assumed was the unspoken set of rules, but perhaps I've been wrong all these years. So I'll spell it out, and see if you agree wholeheartedly, or vehemently disagree:

1. I believe recipes are for sharing. Why withhold something wonderful from those who enjoy it? Unless you are getting paid large sums of money to develop and provide these recipes to some big-name client, I see no point in keeping them a secret.

2. I also believe that when you are the recipient of a recipe someone has shared with you, it's common courtesy to not make that particular recipe for the donor's circle. For instance: My mother is world-renowned for her pies and flan. (Well, almost world-renowned. All my relatives know about her skills, and that's quite a crowd.) She graciously passes down her recipes to me. But I would never be so bold as to try and duplicate her recipe and take it to, say, a family reunion. I would, however, take her recipe to my church potluck, a MOPS gathering, or to my Bible study group. What's the difference, you say? Well, those aren't her circles, and they never will be. I'm not in danger of trespassing her recipe territory, so to speak. And I usually go so far as to give her credit whenever someone compliments the dish, especially if they know her.

Now, just to clarify, I'm not talking about general recipes that everyone knows how to make. If I bring my chili on the same day you bring your chili, that's no big deal. I'm talking about the more distinctive recipes.

Am I wrong to think that if someone is known for a certain dish among a particular crowd, it's almost like "stealing" to take over their recipe and use it for that same crowd? It's never happened to me personally, but I've been surprised to hear of it happening to others.

So do you follow these same unspoken rules, or am I taking these recipe rules way too seriously?


Michelle B. said...

I agree recipes are for sharing. I have never heard the other rule although I can completely understand. Now I don't usually have this problem as most of the recipes I have are passed down from older family generations. I do think that if the person is no longer alive or no long bakes/cooks than you can bring that food in that circle. Like if your mom stoped making her pies than you could continue the tradition in her honor giving her the credit. Make sense?

Granny said...

I wholeheartedly agree with #1.

I'd never really thought about #2 before, but I guess in some circles this could be an issue. Unless you're dealing with someone who's super-sensitive on these issues, I don't think I'd worry about taking something they're "famous" for. I do think I'd call first and say something like, "Aunt Barb, any chance that you're going to be taking your Blue Ribbon Caramel Pie to the reunion? My kids hardly think it's worth going if they can't have your pie, so if you're making something else, would you mind me taking that one? I'll even give YOU all the credit!" I'd know by her reaction whether or not it made her feel uncomfortable, and if so, I'd take the YELLOW Ribbon Pie :-)

Stephanie said...

Ok, I'm feeling the need to give some background info for this post, since obviously I'm probably too "possessive" of my recipes!

I have a friend who is a mentor in one of the circles I run. She is KNOWN for her cinnamon rolls. She bakes them from scratch, they are gooey and melt-in-your-mouth, and she brings them to every event because they're always requested.

Well, I recently asked her for the recipe and jokingly told her I promised I wouldn't start bringing them to our same group events. She told me that someone had actually done that to her before, which surprised me.

I regularly bring food (on a weekly/monthly basis) to four different groups, and I've come to rely on using certain recipes. If someone "took over" my good ol' regular favorites, I think I'd be at a loss! :)

I feel like I'm only digging my silly hole deeper, so I'll quit here. ;) I guess I'm the only one who thinks about these things!

Brittany said...

You are cracking me up! I agree with #1. That is how we learn...there is nothing new under the sun!
For #2, well. Hmmm. Once you explained that you were talking about a regularly meeting group, it made a lot more sense. Because there is a recipe of mine that now gets used a lot. I don't mind (as long as it is made well!)...but that is only b/c I love trying new things. I think it gets a little bothersome if the person bringing it does not warn you OR give you credit (this has happened, too!).
Oh man... I do hope I have not done this to someone. You got my wheels turnin'!

Chef Mama said...

Methinks you are a foodie and think far too deeply about such issues! LOL!

Yes, I say share those recipes! Then again, I send out monthly letters with recipes, generally by a particular company (hee-hee!). Also, I LOVE getting recipes that I can actually eat these days.

Never thought of #2. But I imagine if anyone but Aunt Glenda made banana puddin' (it's NOT pudding in Texas, you know, it's puddin'), she might get her feathers in a ruffle. Yet, my Aunt Jeanne's apricot jello dish is made by either MIL or my mom at all gatherings. Aunt Jeanne lives far away and has alzheimer's now, so I suspect that doesn't count. Hmmmm. I wonder if anyone ever served fried chicken to the Colonel or round hamburgers to Dave Thomas?

I, on the other hand, would be overly ecstatic if ANYONE created ANYTHING gluten free for a gathering and it tasted delightful! I think there is ALWAYS room for improving gluten free foods. Though, I've found that some of my homemade GF sweets are quite a bit tastier than, oh, say, chocolate cake made with garbanzo bean flour (yes, you can buy a cake mix for $5 or $6 with bean flour in it! Who knew?). And, certainly, if anyone EVER finds a way to create tasty gluten free cinnamon rolls or crescent rolls, I say bring it on, baby!

Do tell us your classics so we don't upset the delicate balance of recipe etiquette!

Kristen & Dave said...

I'm now hanging my head, realizing I promised to share several recipes a while back and never did..."bad friend!", I say to myself. I will type those out to you this week!!! Yes, recipes are for sharing. Uh...I'm somewhat less than sensitive, so it wouldn't bother me if someone brought a dish I had taught them to make, and I guess I haven't thought twice about making something I learned from a friend attending the same event. Maybe that just means I need work ;-)

Amy said...

If I ever get to a point where I'm famous (in a good way) for a recipe I'll let you know how I feel about #2 ;-)

Anonymous said...

Oh yes. A friend brought me dinner when I had my daughter. She got the recipe from my sister. She didn't know my sister got it from me. So she brought me my recipe :) It was very sweet of her, so I wasn't complaining, but it wasn't as good.