It's the 4th of July holiday weekend in the US and we traditionally celebrate our independence with fireworks, parades, and, of course, food. Our food is typically barbecue or picnic fare. My brother-in-law fires up his smoker for the meats, my sister makes her special pasta salad, my aunt always made sugar cookies decorated to look like watermelon slices, and now my daughter is gaining fame for her desserts. While each of us may be associated with a "specialty", we always share our recipes and love to try new ones.
There's a passage I came across this week in A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg that perfectly reflects my family's recipe philosophy.
"Recipes were made to be shared. That's how they improve, how they change, how new ideas are formed and older ones made ripe. They way I see it, sharing a recipe is how you pay back fate - in the karmic sense, if you believe in such things - for bringing you something so tasty in the first place. To stop a recipe in its tracks, to label it secret just seems mean. And isn't cooking about making people, on some level or another, feel good? It seems to me, then, that it only makes sense to give people the means to continue feeling good. By which I mean the recipe." (page 177)
Not all people, however, feel this way. I was reminded of "The Secret Ingredient", an essay by M.F.K. Fisher that I posted on last winter. She wrote about Bertie Bastalizzo, who frequently prepared food for her friends and neighbors. She would include specific instruction on everything from how long to let the food "rest", suggested accompaniments, and even the type of bowl or tray to serve it on. But Bertie would not share her recipe! I'll guess we've all known someone like Bertie - for me it was my mother's friend Tina.
So here is my question of the week: What are your thoughts on "secret recipes"? Do you always share, or is there one guarded family treasure? Are you a Molly or a Bertie?
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