Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Recipe attribution

Recipes, of course, can't be copyrighted (although the words can be). But PPK has an interesting discussion of recipe attribution and plagiarism.

Many of the recipes here are completely my own, although of course based on ideas from restaurants, cookbooks, and friends. When a dish is based closely on one or two recipes, I try to always cite where it's from; I will try even more in the future.

As for what my recipes are like, with the plagiarists of the world I find that I cannot say as well as someone else what I think. So I will quote yet again from the introduction to Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Vegetables:
Many preparations echo sister reipes in nearby chapters — family resemblances aboung in our repertory; by including fo many, we have tried to suggest a recurring haphazard serendipity in our cooking. As in a family photo album, there are recipes one might think of as formal portraits: lists of precisely quantified ingredients, and step-by-step instructions in the somewhat cliché-ridden conventions of most modern cookbooks — complete with what often seem, even to a beginner cook, like redundant and obvious details ("Preheat the oven to 400°F.," "Wash, dry, and shop the parsley fine," "Season to taste"). These are side be side with recipes that are more like out-of-focue snapshots: unquantified narrative descriptions that leave much to the imagination and intuition of the cook.

Of course, the paradox is that an out-of-focus snapshot can sometimes be a better, truer likeness than the most carefully posed and costumed studio photograph. In this collection, we have left quite a few short recipes in this kind of format, hoping that you will be encouraged to try them because of their loose form, refining them to your own satisfaction by dash and splash, tasting as you go, instead of measuring them out by teaspoons and quarter cupfuls.

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