Folks, how do you feel about sharing treasured recipes? Clearly, over-sharing is and always has been the BMG’s m.o., in all areas of life. You’re welcome. But I know there are those who feel differently. And I’d like to understand that a bit better.
See, I was raised to always give a recipe when asked. To believe that it’s pure ego to want to keep a recipe all to yourself so no one else can enjoy it without your divine intervention. That’s how I console myself, of course, when someone refuses a recipe on the grounds that it’s a “family secret.” “PURE EGO!” my brain shouts comfortingly as I plaster a smile on my face and nod in a way which I hope conveys the complete compassion and human forgiveness I, uh, TOTALLY DO NOT feel.
Sometimes my mother would come home from work with a bag of especially buttery butter cookies, or a slice of quick bread stealthily wrapped in some napkins and shoved into her lunchbag, and a sour expression on her face. She’d bristle as she recounted the story of how she’d been humble and complimentary and sweet, and told her coworker she’d do anything to have that recipe…and had then been cruelly refused. Sometimes she’d plunk the treat in question down onto the tabletop, a little too hard, truth be told, and would order us all to take a bite and try to figure out what was in it.
Oh, the horrible trials we endured.
Anyhow, a long, unscientific process would ensue, and we’d all sit around munching and tossing out ideas and, yes, cursing those who don’t share recipes. “We CAN figure this out, we MUST!” we’d say, and spend more time on that pumpkin bread than was really necessary.
If we can nail this, we thought, that’ll REALLY show ’em.
Sadly, I haven’t progressed my family tree in the emotional maturity department much. (SHOCKER.) These days if I’m refused a recipe I often feel that old indignation creep up as I storm home with my lab sample, determined to crack the code. I sit at the table tasting tiny, scrutinizing bites between evil cackles, as if I planned to market and sell this friggin’ cake on a massive scale and somehow make their family secret obsolete and stupid. I wonder if somewhere out there, some stingy family feels ripped off by a pissed off houseguest who managed to figure out their secret recipe for tiny candy-coated chocolates stamped with perfect little letter “m”s.
“HOW do they get the m’s on every piece?! I MUST KNOW!!”
I suppose when it comes down to it, you’re a sharer or a non-sharer. I’m sure there are some valid reasons for both. No doubt, there are some ridiculous reasons, too. I’m not standing here saying that you’re screwed up if you don’t share recipes. But you’re screwed up if you don’t share recipes.
Okay, but really, I would ask you to examine your motives. Why the hush hush? Are you planning to make money with this/is it a business secret, in which case I get it? Is this a family loyalty thing–Great Gammy Gam never shared the recipe, and you’ll preserve her legacy, albeit stingy, in her honor? Are you afraid your friends will stop inviting you over if they know how to make that special cake without you? (‘Cause people, I’ve learned that pure sloth is enough to keep them coming back.) Or do you really just not want anyone else to be able to enjoy this treat on their own? Does your being able to follow this recipe and produce something that good make you special in your own eyes, and to share that bit of special would be to diminish yourself somehow?
In a bi-partisan move aimed at understanding each other this election season, let’s come out and share our rationales for the way we think. If you promise to re-think your position and listen to mine, I’ll promise not to make any poorly-edited campaign ads about you with quotes taken out of context and a gray pallor imposed over your face via Photoshop. Maybe.
So where do you fall?