There was a recent article in the New York Times discussing the state of recipes, and when a recipe itself prevents itself from being made from anyone beside the initial author.
Whether for reasons practical or psychological, even the most experienced cooks have an ingredient, technique or phrase that will make them bypass a recipe.
My own process of interpreting recipes is admittedly a bit schizophrenic. For one, I don’t let an unknown technique or phrase deter me. I have no fear of my culinary ignorances, and this has led to some pretty memorable failures.
I’m also what one might term a literalist. I follow a recipe to the letter, even if I should know better. The best example of that is in the recent Cipolle Fritte recipe where I could have saved myself a lot of work by blanching the onions prior to peeling. But this is not what the recipe stated, so this is not what I did. I should have known better, but trusted the recipe more than I trusted my own skills. I suppose that this speaks to my own character in some regard, but I am too indifferent to figure out just exactly what.
The result of these two approaches is that I do a lot of reflecting on the recipe after its done, rather than before. This probably comes from my Software testing background, where someone else did the hard work, and it was my job to figure out what went wrong when something was clearly broken.
So with all that being said, any recipe needs to meet the following inputs before I use it: it requires only one person to make it. That’s it. I have no problem in buying new equipment, nor looking for an obscure ingredient, or at least a decent and acceptable substitute. Of course this is helped by the fact that Seattle is a major port city with a variety of ethnic communities. I can count on one hand the number of ingredients that I have been unable to procure.
So what are your recipe deal breakers? Poll is to the left, and add your voice to this in the comments section.
h/t to Mr. Ruhlman