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A fun little sidebar to the (extremely justified) anger about that Epicurious job posting is that literally nobody on this hellsite seems to understand how most internet recipes actually get from a cook's head to your iphone screen
It's kind of the same recipe-creation illiteracy as the tired "god I hate scrolling through the words part, just give me the recipe" complaint that goes viral on here every few months
Developing a recipe takes hours—sometimes days, or even weeks. It's an iterative, experimental process, tweaking variables and adjusting elements to get to an endpoint where your vision for the finished dish lines up with reality.
A recipe's headnote (that's the short paragraph or so of text that appears above the ingredients list etc) usually gestures at this process: "Adding the lemon at the end preserves its brightness," or "A mix of rice flour and wheat flour keeps the batter light," or whatever.
If you've ever built something iteratively, you know this feeling: All you want to do is talk about the context and backstory for the end result. We started here at A! Then this other thing happened so we moved to B! I was listening to this music and that made me think of C!
This is why I get mad whenever someone complains about scrolling to get to a recipe: This person CREATED something. They MADE THE RECIPE. This is their time and space to talk about how or why it happened! Sure, some are boring, or maudlin, but it's a creator sharing their process
So that's one part of the recipe-creation illiteracy: People who complain about scrolling think of a recipe as a fait accompli, a thing that just fell into reality, and not as the fruit of someone's creative labor.
The other part of the illiteracy, as evidenced by the anger over "build 30 recipes a week" in that Epi job posting, is that on pro recipe sites, recipes are frequently the end result of far more than just one person's labor. "Building" a recipe just means inputting it into a CMS!
Maybe this is just a broader misunderstanding of digital media? I've worked at places where I've built my own stories, and at places where I haven't even had a CMS login. "Web production" is a job (a real, full-time, skilled job) that has nothing to do with creating a recipe.
I'm gonna rephrase this next tweet because my tone was totally off in the previous way I posted it
*Developing* 30 recipes isn't a week of full time work, it's a week of full-time work for like five people.

*Building* 30 recipes takes maybe a day.

It is being both over- and under-valued rn, which is a frustrating reminder of how this kind of work is unseen and misunderstood
It's really frustrating, as someone who has both developed recipes and built recipes, and felt (and been) undervalued as a worker in both processes, to finally see people defending that work, while still wildly misunderstanding and mischaracterizing it.
The job posting is BAD. I shared it approvingly yesterday because I misread the thread, and I'm really ashamed of that mistake. No hedge on either of those preceding sentences.
I'm not in on Epi's process but here's a general recipe development workflow

1. Development (ideating, testing)
2. Writing
3. Cross-testing (testing the written recipe precisely as written)
4. Editing
5. Copy editing
6. Photography/photo editing
7. Building/producing

It's A LOT
At the most professionalized and well-staffed operations each one of these steps is done by a different person (or group of people). At smaller sites and indie blogs, maybe one person does it all.

It is, again, A LOT
When I write recipes for TNY, for example, I do my own development and write my own recipes. I rope in friends to cross-test, and have a recipe specialist give the written recipe an edit. It then goes through additional TNY edit and copy edit. A TNY web producer builds it.
Recipe writing, editing, and copy-editing is remarkably specialized work. Recipes have granular style elements that you might not notice — common ones, for example, are that ingredients are listed in the order they're used, and within that, by quantity from greatest to least
Some style guides say that every step must begin with an action "Combine the flours", others a vessel "In a large pot", others a purpose "To make the frosting." There is a difference between "1/4 cup parsley, chopped" and "1/4 cup chopped parsley."
(I'm not really commenting on the Epi job listing anymore here, I'm just pulling back the curtain on how recipes work, because I think it's interesting and maybe you will too)
Creating and testing a recipe is also pretty involved. Everything is measured and noted — not just for ease of writing the recipe later, but so you can follow your own movements when you need to change something in the next iteration. It's creative & scientific at the same time.
I tested the crispy okra recipe at the bottom of this story maybe a dozen times — 10 development rounds, 2 check rounds. That's on the high end, but because it's such a simple recipe, I wanted to absolutely nail it. newyorker.com/culture/kitche…
First, research: I read dozens of okra recipes, and made a few. Then, adaptation: I took inspiration from some faves, added my own ideas, tried them out. Then, iteration: different oils, different infusions, different cuts, different cook temps & times, different serving temps
A lot of this work is repurposable: if I ever do another crispy okra recipe, I already have a lot of baseline knowledge and can probably skip some of the development iteration.
At an operation like Epicurious, or another big food pub with a dedicated test kitchen, you might end up seeing something like "5 Rad Okra Recipes" — an efficiency of testing. But the other steps in the process can't be made more efficient without sacrificing recipe quality
The biggest and most important step is cross-testing — kind of like functional proofreading. You write the recipe, then you cook EXACTLY WHAT IT SAYS ON THE PAGE. It's the only way to catch errors, omissions, muddiness — and to make sure the result is actually what you intended.
This, btw, is what we talk about when we talk about whether recipes "work." Lots of cookbooks (including some very beloved ones, slide into my DMs) are infamous for "not working" — the ideas are great, but the recipes are full of holes, and home cooks think it's their own fault.
(It is OFTEN user error when recipes don't work out, sorry. But it isn't always. And if you're an everyday cook it can be really hard to know at which point the mistakes entered the process.)
It varies by book! My general take on restaurant cookbooks is that they're amazing for inspiration, but recipes involving a 15-person brigade plus full-time dishwashers rarely translate into an efficient or realistic approach for home cooks
This is, fwiw, why I like (some) very long recipe headnotes — headnotes that talk about process, history, and context are basically the cooking equivalent of showing your work. If you talk me through how you arrived at the recipe, I'm more likely to trust that it'll work.
Even more important: A process headnote (which is in its best form, imo, in Cook's Illustrated/spinoffs and in @dgritzer @BraveTart @kenjilopezalt's work at Serious Eats) actually TEACHES YOU HOW TO COOK. Following a recipe is just following a recipe. Knowing WHY is cooking.
The more you understand why things are done this way and not that way, why this ingredient goes in here instead of there — the more protection you'll have against the holes of poorly written recipes. You'll be able to read for inspiration instead of instruction.
The thing is, though, to sort of loop this back with what I was saying upthread about this kind of work being misunderstood and misvalued — Kenji, Daniel, Stella, Cook's Illustrated, et al. aren't just sort of ~magically~ good at writing recipes.
The average reader might look at a SE recipe and a random google-blog recipe and just see two web pages with recipes for, idk, strawberry buttercream. Structurally and functionally they appear to be very similar. Headnote, ingredients, instructions.
But the paths that led to those recipes are always different. How many testing rounds? What kind of equipment? What kind of cross-testing? What sort of style guide? What's the sensory goal? How sure is the outcome? How much do they assume the reader already knows?
When you find a recipe source that WORKS, you should STICK WITH IT. Recipes are kind of like news media: there's a lot of bad stuff out there. It's up to you to be able to find the good stuff. Google is easy but it'll lead you into hell. Trust the publication, trust the byline.
Every good recipe source will also have some duds. No one is 100% airtight all the time. But if you really want to learn the WHY of cooking, and insulate yourself from failure, the bibles are @CiaoSamin's book "Salt Fat Acid Heat," and Cook's Illustrated's "The New Best Recipe."
It should go without saying, but it never does: This work isn't free. Food, labor, equipment, the years spent learning and trying and failing that gets us to a place of accumulated expertise. Not to mention the costs of being human: childcare, rent, medical care, etc.
Dollar for dollar, even though those two random strawberry buttercream recipes look superficially the same, one of them was WAY more expensive to produce: more food, more labor, more expertise (including secondary: copy editors, ux designers, etc).
More expensive doesn't mean better, of course, and of course not all inexpensively produced recipes are bad!!!
But recipes are not a commodity good. Just because it looks pretty doesn't mean it works well. All a top google ranking tells you is that they're good at SEO. The more you know about what goes into making a recipe, the better you can understand how valuable the good ones are.
Oh my god yes how could I forget this, TRULY the bible
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