How to write a recipe
The oldest cookbook known to is a 3600 year old clay tablet from Mesopotamia. Today, everyone writes cookbooks. But in actual fact, is writing a recipe easy?
How to maketh cook’d things
In the old days, writing a recipe was not that easy come, easy go. In the middle ages, for example, it was extremely hard to explain certain instructions, such as those regarding cooking time or temperature .
In fact, few were the people who had access to hourglasses, watches or other time measuring objects, thus the issue of time was very hard to address. Instructions turned out to be quite vague, so authors tried to use time measurements based on practical concepts, more so than metrical units. For example, an egg could be boiled for the time equivalent to praying six Our Fathers. A rabbit could be roasted for the time equivalent to walking five kilometers. It was also hard to explain temperature, as there were no thermometers. Consequently, instructions such as “make a small fire”, “cook until boil” or “cook over gentle embers” would often appear.
In science, you also cook
Writing or following recipes is not something exclusive of cooking. An essential base of scientific research is the ability to follow (or write) recipes in an irreproachable fashion. This parallelism is quite faithful, as there is the need to find, weigh and manipulate ingredients in exact amounts and in the right way, only then to mix them according to a rigorous protocol (i.e. recipe), which may envolve various techniques or several apparatus. On the other hand, great inventions sometimes come from a more or less intentional detour of the rules.
It is thus curious to observe that in a way, everyone who cooks is in essence a scientist, which in various forms transform simpler, separate matters into an end product that is chemically and physically different and complex.
But how do you really write a recipe?
The image displayed below suggests various tips on how to efficiently and flawlessly write a recipe.