Recipe philosophy from Jacques Pepin

Amen! Wiser words were never spoken. I wish there were a way to disseminate this advice to every fledgling home cook, because they often get confused/discouraged when a dish fails.


I have nothing to say but, " Bravo :raised_hands: Jacques. "

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Yes - great words of advice! My sister in law has to follow recipes to a tee. I never understood it. She once was excited because she wanted to make us Kahlua and Coffee - you guessed it, she found a recipe!

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Wow, he is so on point. I actually started my baking career at the apron strings of my grandmother, whose father was a baker in both Europe and this country. It was on their farm that I do remember baking pies and rugelach with her. She would ask me if I thought the dough was too wet, and if it was add some more flour…and such she taught me to adjust what she was doing each and every time…


I’m a recipe follower and rarely have anything close to a failure. Granted the authors are people who have quite a track record. BTW, most people think I’m a VERY good cook.


Incredible! And coming from someone who is so associated with French cooking, which mistakenly got turned into this pseudo-science for home cooks, with thermometers, precision measures, mechanical timers, so removed from the living realities of individual ingredients produced by nature.

Something you see in Italy all the time is (a) children being so much a part of the preparation of food so, as Phreddy points out, adult cooks already have the understaning that any “recipe” is ultimately subjected to a “feel test” or a “smell test” to determine “rightness” and also (b) no fear of invention at the stove (adding water, raising heat, lowering heat, etc) – although that means you do need to watch food and work with it, not just set a clock and walk away.

When I moved to Italy, I encountered a lot of ingredients I didn’t “understand” at all, and while I tracked down recipes, my Italian wasn’t good enough to get the subtleties of many of them. It dawned on me one evening that you can tell when things are going right with many Italian “recipes” by how the cooking food releases its aromas. That is so difficult to write down or convey in a recipe.

Bravo too that JP mentioned the seasonality of food, and how even in just one season the crop varies and you must be willing to work with the food as it has been given to you. Yay yay yay.

I tweeted it to everybody I know!:flag_it:

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When it comes to the oven, my observation is that when the aroma reaches the living room (about 15 ft away), the contents are done - or at the very least, require checking on. This holds true regardless of what I’m making: cookies, casserole, roast, etc…


Whereas I find that if it reaches the living room, it’s on it’s way to being overcooked.

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Different floor plans, different equipment, different results - just as JP points out. Every cook has to learn his/her own factors.

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Perhaps. And that contributes to my being a recipe follower as well as great use of my thermometer.

[Edited to add: I hit the wrong button and meant this to reply to graygarious’s posts to me – although catholiver is certainly not being ignored!)

Some time ago I was reading an article in The Guardian about a woman in the UK who opened her home to a Syrian refugee who was at risk of being deported. The article was mainly about each of them learning the other’s cultural customs, sharing the same house, and his eagerness to assimilate, and one of the things he found most peculiar was the cookbook holder in her kitchen. The author wrote that he actually thought cookbooks themselves were pretty hilarious.

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I bet the author is a shitty cook!

For having a cookbook holder? I’m not understanding your post.

I recall the author saying that her Syrian guest did not cook at all (since his family had cooked for him in Syria) and mainly shopped for pre-pared foods, and that she had to help him decipher the labels of supermarket items to make sure they didn’t contain pork products (and teach him how to turn on her stove).

You wrote that the author of the article :“The author wrote that he actually thought cookbooks themselves were pretty hilarious.”

Sorry you didn’t understand.

The author of the Guardian article is a woman, and the “he” is the Syrian whom she helped. He found cookbooks hilarious.

Okay, then maybe both of them are shitty cooks :slight_smile:

From my previous post

I’m beginning to feel it’s easier to relate to non-English speaking cultures …


Yes, in your case that might be a good decision.

I think a better conclusion to come to is that the way in which we write recipes is flawed. A tragedy of the impatience embedded in modern life.

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the Catch-22, of course, comes from the fact that fledgling cooks don’t have the ‘sixth sense’ or the feel to adapt a recipe to what they’re doing.

Those of us who’ve been cooking for a while know when the dough is too wet, the syrup is too brown, or whatever, but fledgling Cooks don’t have that yet. So they have to have a recipe because they have to have somewhere to start, but they don’t have the knowledge. …and around it goes.