Recipe improv should be outlawed

As I’ve taken on the cooking role in our household, I’ve found many, if not most, of my recipes online. Allrecipes is my favorite.

Given my lack of cooking skills, I require and appreciate the very specific directions supplied in a recipe. I follow them exactly. Isn’t that the purpose of a recipe to begin with?

So I have been mystified and irrationally bothered by the improvisation displayed by so many people who “follow” recipes and then review them online.

For example – this broccoli side dish (for now please ignore the embarrassing simplicity of this dish and the fact that I actually had to look up instructions to figure out that broccoli might taste good with oil and salt).

One reviewer said the following:

  • “The only thing I did differently was use fresh broccoli and cooked it using a little bit of leftover bacon drippings. AMAZING”

Are you effing kidding me?! You could put bacon drippings on cat shit and it would taste ‘AMAZING.’ Come on, people. You did not follow this recipe!

And then there are people like this guy, providing a review of a chicken piccata recipe:

  • “I have not made this yet…..some quick thoughts.”

Wait, what? You haven’t even made it but you’re going to weigh in?! The nerve! He continues:

  • “To stop the bitterness do not add the lemon slices to cook with the sauce, use lemon zest and finish with the butter, the white pith is what is making it bitter.  Add lemon slice when serving.  I also am going to try grilling the chicken and making just a quick lemon pan sauce with shallots, white wine, perhaps a riesling or pinot grigo and garlic, however; no chicken broth.  I would not cut into medallions leave in breasts in tact.  To thicken maybe a little cornstarch and water if necessary.  I will let you know how it turns out. After making this, the grilling part probably not needed, pan frying would have been fine.  The sauce I made was great only wish it had made more.  Cornstarch not necessary.  But a great recipe!”

What the hell?! He says it’s a great recipe and he hasn’t even tried it??? And he suggested 8 modifications?

This kind of rule-breaking is rampant on recipe websites. Someone needs to get the Internet police involved.

If you have modified a recipe to the extent that it takes you more than one sentence to share your comment, then I think you should be forced to submit it as a new recipe entirely.

As an entry-level cook, I find recipes overwhelming enough as it is. Please do not present me with a billion variations to confuse me even further. I have tried modifying things and it has not turned out well. It also makes me sweat a lot. And I do not like to sweat while I eat. Unless it’s a spicy Thai dish and I’m wearing a tank top.

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