A Reprint: Dear Food Network et al
I used to write another blog, and I was reading through it this afternoon just to remember to keep blogging on this one. And I came across a post I wrote just about a year ago. This blog was not a food-based blog, but rather an adventure in ranting and snarking at silly things, but apparently food made my radar. So, here it is…
Dear Food Network et al,
Oh all you recipe writers, both great (aka on TV) and small (aka those who post on their own blogs that no one reads)… you have a piece of my heart. You create and then share how to create with the world, in a cycle rarely replicated in other arts.
I mean, it’s not often you see a sculptor create something and then give explicit directions on how to do it. I respect the level of creative sharing that exists in the food world in many respects. But we really have to talk about what counts as a ‘recipe.’ Three ingredients, and only one is unprocessed?
NOT a recipe. That’s a back of a Betty Crocker brownie mix. Any recipe that involves ‘Cream of ______ Soup”? Not a recipe. Maybe that’s the way your mom did it, but she really should have taught you how to make a creamy stock like your grandma did. Seriously. It’s not rocket science, and that would make it a recipe.
I’m not trying to be elitist, I just prefer that if I’m going to cook something that it actually lists all the ingredients. When we use things like Bisquick or Cheesy Taco seasoning mix (which are all well and good in a pinch for quick meals, but not literally cooking) I can’t tell what’s in my finished meal. MSG? Probably. Xantham gum? Yup. Partially hydrogenated soybean oil? Perhaps. The list could go on. When I follow a recipe I would like all ingredients to be things I buy at the store that I can eat: whole non-dehydrated vegetables, spices sans fillers, close to whole grains. This helps me be able to feed those with dietary needs without worry and makes me feel like I’m eating real food. From now on I’m calling your instructions Processed Meal Plans, not recipes. Please label them accordingly from now on so that when I google for recipes they do not come up in my results.
I still agree. Glad to know I’m consistent with myself.
(original post can be found at http://www.lettersfromlia.com/)
While I do agree with most of your post, I have to say… xanthan gum is a basic staple in my apartment. It’s pretty much the only way to make gluten free baked things have a texture worthy of their flavor. Plus, it’s much less scary when it’s in Bob’s Red Mill packaging at the co-op instead of listed 92nd in the ingredients list on the back of an instant soup packet.
Hahaha ok, fair enough. But I’d still prefer a recipe that requires xanthan gum to list it as an ingredient, not ‘pour in package xyz product.’ A processed product is rarely an ‘ingredient’ to me.
Yeah, I do agree with your main point. Honestly, it’s not even helpful! I mean, isn’t that why they stick things like “Cream of Random Vegetable Soup” in the ingredients list? To make the recipe easier? I never have that stuff in my pantry! I’d have to make an extra trip to the supermarket (not even the store by my home) to make something like the classic green bean casserole. Not convenient at all. And I don’t want to make soup by adding cream of whatever soup to other things. That’s not making soup, that’s bedazzling some canned soup with better ingredients.