Friday, January 8, 2010

Shh! Don't -nom- tell anyone...

(I intended this before Christmas, but it's still a good post now… ;) )

A few years ago, I remember reading a story in Newsweek, I believe – not one of my cooking/food magazines – about sharing holiday recipes. A young woman wanted her boyfriend's family's holiday toffee recipe, but even after the two were engaged, no one would share the recipe with her. It was a special gift the family would give every Christmas.

The story ended with the woman having broken up with the fellow and regretting the fact she hadn't stolen the recipe the one time she had the chance.

Contrasting with this lost recipe regret is this woman's regret of including the recipe for biscotti she'd made one year. When everyone saw how easy it was to make, they were less appreciative of receiving it.

Of course, these few years ago were only beginning the current popularity of the "foodie" culture. Currently, the number of people interested in food and food preparation is still growing; it's quite the marketing trend. When you give food, it's almost expected you give the recipe. If you don't, you get asked – and not sharing is quite the faux pas.

My group of friends has always been foodie-rich. The best thing college cable had was the Food Network, so sharing recipes was a given – and many of us Alton Brown fans – so was sharing preparation tricks. (For example, the puffy pie-like consistency in my kiffle cookie crust is entirely dependent on rolling technique.) Even if we don't share recipes, most of us can get a rough idea of a recipe just from eating the food with awareness. (Eating with awareness is paying close attention to taste, texture, smell… and how each of those changes as you eat. Basically. ;) ).

On the other hand, most of my friends have families rich in food traditions, so we respect, "It's a family recipe; I can't share it." Also, none of us have a ton of money for presents, so we respect what each makes as gifts. For example, when Caroline & Jesse gave me their macaroon recipe, I changed it to something different so our gifts wouldn't overlap.

What to do then? We share some recipes, and we work on our own signature treats. And we respect each other's food. No one's made my kiffle recipe, for example, though many of my friends have the DragonLance source book that has it. (Granted, I've made a few minor changes in ingredient and preparation.) No one else makes the different thumbprint cookies that Caroline & Jesse perfected, nor their rocky road fudge. Big Scott's fudge was different from the rocky road fudge.

So, we all do have our own "secret" recipes that we break out around the holiday season, but they are collectively agreed upon secrets. No one regrets missing out on cooking opportunities – but also, no one takes these specialties for granted.

Delicious holidays - er - new year to you!


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