Cook's Illustrated Editor: I Wish All Those Amateurs Out There Would Just Shut Up

from the well,-that's-nice dept

Rob Hyndman points us to an editorial in the NY Times from the founder of the famous Cook’s Illustrated magazine, Christopher Kimball, bemoaning Conde Nast’s recent decision to shut down the magazine Gourmet. Rather than talking about all sorts of mistakes made by Conde Nast in managing its magazine portfolio, he works out some way to blame people who use Twitter and Google and (gasp!) put their own recipes online and (oh no!) have their own feeble-minded opinions:

The shuttering of Gourmet reminds us that in a click-or-die advertising marketplace, one ruled by a million instant pundits, where an anonymous Twitter comment might be seen to pack more resonance and useful content than an article that reflects a lifetime of experience, experts are not created from the top down but from the bottom up. They can no longer be coronated; their voices have to be deemed essential to the lives of their customers. That leaves, I think, little room for the thoughtful, considered editorial with which Gourmet delighted its readers for almost seven decades.

To survive, those of us who believe that inexperience rarely leads to wisdom need to swim against the tide, better define our brands, prove our worth, ask to be paid for what we do, and refuse to climb aboard this ship of fools, the one where everyone has an equal voice. Google “broccoli casserole” and make the first recipe you find. I guarantee it will be disappointing. The world needs fewer opinions and more thoughtful expertise — the kind that comes from real experience, the hard-won blood-on-the-floor kind. I like my reporters, my pilots, my pundits, my doctors, my teachers and my cooking instructors to have graduated from the school of hard knocks.

The thing is, the evidence actually suggests he’s wrong. People who first become interested in such “bottom up” knowledge, often go on to seek out the “thoughtful, considered editorial.” The bottom-up system works because the ease of entry doesn’t scare people off, but it also doesn’t take long for those who find it compelling to seek out more expertise in the subject. Refusing to “climb aboard this shop of fools” is a good way to make sure that the snobs you’re hoping will come find you never even bother.

Kimball is correct that he should be better defining his brand and proving his worth — that’s what we’ve been saying all along. But you can do that without insulting the riff raff, as well. You can do that while embracing the “bottom up” process. You can do that without being a total snob that has no time for the people who actually pay your salary.

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Comments on “Cook's Illustrated Editor: I Wish All Those Amateurs Out There Would Just Shut Up”

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81 Comments
PopeRatzo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Kimball sure proved his worth, all right. Unfortunately, his true worth does not reflect his very high opinion of himself.

It’s not the fault of the Internet that these Conde Nast publications didn’t make it. Strangely, The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, even Wired are still on the newsstand and still making money.]

Can you imagine the gall of this elitist prig? He actually complains about the fact that experts are no longer made “from the top down”. He just can’t live with the fact that he’s not on top of Mt Olympus any more.

I’m sure he still hasn’t gotten over the fact that blacks can now ride in the front of the bus, and you just can’t get good help any more.

TheStupidOne says:

Comment from the #1 google result for Broccoli Casserole (http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,178,135180-244199,00.html):

I found this website from a New York Times article I read today and I am so happy I did! This was the best broccoli casserole ever and my family devoured it and they will not even eat broccoli most of the time. I just wanted to say thank you for a wonderful recipe and a great site!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What a crappy recipe. It lacks ancho chile powder, Spanish paprika, ground coriander, dry mustard, dried oregano, ground cumin and chile de arbol.

I can’t imagine Broccoli Casserole without these ingredients. What a horrible, horrible tragedy of a recipe. When cooked, I imagine it’s as crappy and bland as the person that conjured it up.

Bleh.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

On a rainy day, when I couldn’t work, because I am a framer/roofer construction worker, I went to the Cooks.com at the local library to find something good to make my wife. As soon as the Broccoli Casserole recipe loaded, the library shook, was filled with Classic Rock music, and smoke filled the room, and everyone looked at me and their eyes went all “glowing”.

The library alpha males all started circling me, because they could tell I was a “Big Daddy”, while the ladies acted like they didn’t care, but I knew they could sense my “Good Cook” aura. I waddled down to the printer with my hip-pack (I can’t walk due to my mullet getting caught under my shoes. Anyway, I waited impatiently as the lights flashed telling me that the paper was printing. I mean, I dunno what made me want bust out the bottle of Early Times in my hip pack, but damn it was good! I could “smell” one particularly “scenty” lady across the room. I looked at her, smiled, and she got a glimpse of one of my silver capped canines. She came right over and waited next to me. She said “Hey, you wanna see my power crystal?”

Well, to make a long story short, by the next morning, I had divorced my wife and was very satisfied, being full of the super Broccoli Casserole recipe I found on Cooks.com. Now, I live in a 900 square foot trailer, with my lady friend and couldn’t be happier.

Thanks, Cooks.com!

davebarnes (profile) says:

Let's face it, Chris is a snob

As a subscriber to: Cook’s Illustrated, Fine Cooking and Bon Appetit.
As a reader of my local newspaper (Denver Post) and its recipes.

I think Chris is a snob.
That’s OK.
After all, I don’t own a large piece of Vermont.

But, he is so wrong to insinuate that you cannot find good/excellent recipes on the InnerTubes®.

What he needs to do is create a great iPhone app and his magazine subscribers will increase.

Anonymous Coward says:

“those of us who believe that inexperience rarely leads to wisdom”

I think it’s funny that no one pointed out the obvious fallacy of this assertion, and the fact that he’s missing the point about amateurs communicating.

Inexperience is the path to wisdom. In fact, I’ve learned more from my father describing a mistake and the way that he fixed it on the next attempt at a dish than I think I ever could from someone simply telling me how to do it right.

And of course: If you can’t compete with amateurs, then you’re obviously not providing the value that you think you are. If your recipes were that much better, and your wisdom so essential, I wouldn’t bother with Google. I do, because it works, and you have yet to give me a compelling reason to buy your rag.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Then you’ve never read his ragazine. That’s exactly what they do, test many versions of a recipe and talk about what worked and why and what didn’t and why.

I do get recipes from the internet but most of them could be made better. Some of them are just not good. I learned more from Cook’s Illustrated than I did in a highly rated cooking school. There are scientific explanations and good recipes. I highly recommend it. I cannot highly recommend just any random website.

Anonymous Coward says:

“…this ship of fools… where everyone has an equal voice.”
Seriously? I’m the first one to take issue with this phrase? It makes me nauseous when I hear pompous @**es running off at the mouth like this. Anyone who would have anything to do with this man or anyone or anything remotely associated with this man obviously doesn’t value their First Amendment rights.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“I’m the first one to take issue with this phrase?”

I also have a problem with that phrase and find it very troubling that there are people out there to take away our freedom of speech and ensure that the government grants their opinion and communication with the masses an unlevel playing field. It’s very bothersome/troubling to me as well and I do think that we need to ensure that the government doesn’t do anything more to restrict our communication channels. But look at public airwaves, the FCC, and telcos/cablecos, and how that turned out. Public airwaves used to be more like the Internet is now until the government/FCC ruined it and now it’s become the top down nonsense it is now. And cablecos are overpiced top down. And most newspapers are corporate controlled.

KGWagner (profile) says:

Bottom up

Mike said: “The thing is, the evidence actually suggests he’s wrong. People who first become interested in such “bottom up” knowledge, often go on to seek out the “thoughtful, considered editorial.”

It’s true. I happen to subscribe to his magazine for that very reason. It’s a superior publication that treats its subject matter in way you can’t easily find anywhere else.

I’m surprised he’d pick “Gourmet” magazine to defend or point to as an example of what we’ll lose as a result of easy access, as it’s the very type of supermarket rack fodder that many people try to avoid. I foolishly subscribed to it for one year, and let the subscription lapse. I’m not surprised it’s going out of business – it’s not worth the price of admission. I’m not sure I’d accept a subscription to it even for free, as it would add to my waste removal problem.

Fridge Forager says:

Not for Shroom Haters

Lucky Mushroom Stew (because cooking can get you some lucky, at least it did last time I made this for the mate)

– Drop a big pot on the stove. Put in about 6 cups of water or some sort of stock (chicken or veg), get it heating to a rolling boil.

– Couple bags of dried mushrooms (wild variety or chanterelles are faves here), not the crazy expensive kind. The ones with about a handful to a bag. Toss them into the pot to get rehydrating.

– Heat a bit of oil in a pan, rough chop some onion, get them sauteeing, optional (but recommended): a few strips of bacon or pancetta sliced into bits, get them crispifying in the same pan. Also optional: a handful or so chopped fresh ‘shrooms, like portabello, toss them in too. Get ’em all browned up nicely, slide it all into the pot, drippings, everything.

– Add a good slosh of whatever red wine you like to drink, if you’d like. Add in fresh thyme or rosemary if you’ve got it. Or don’t. Highly recommended: Worchestershire sauce, a couple tablespoons.

– If you’ve got leftover potroast* or pork loin or chicken, throw it in there too, why not? Or don’t.

– Simmer covered at least a half hour, an hour is fine. Season as you see fit upon tasting.

– Serve with torn chunks of a nice hearty bread or a few browned crisp pierogi.

*If there’s any of this soup left, it makes a great cooking liquid for potroast in a slow cooker. I’ve gotten 3 meals for 2 people out of this before: soup, then potroast, then chili with the potroast leftovers, some tomatoes, peppers, kidney beans.

Recipe adapted from that of my late mother-in-law, who served this on Christmas usually. She worked big family farms in Ukraine. She knew how to feed people and had huge working hands that would crack, like a walnut, the head of some snotty, alienating jackass who tried to tell her otherwise.

Anonymous Coward says:

The problem is that the bottom up approach requires one to EARN a good reputation, the top down approach requires one to get a good reputation by simply lobbying the government for an unlevel playing field. These people are lazy, they don’t want to earn a good reputation through honesty, they want to steal it through government intervention.

andrew johnson (profile) says:

Upgrades

On a technical level I would have to agree that most sites do a poor job of correctly assessing expertise. However, this is a temporary issue. Current technology will be replaced by new systems that do a better job of providing valuable information to the user by addressing these problems. The same can hardly be said about traditional media which hasn’t really changed during those “almost seven decades”.

Doctor Strange says:

I understand Kimball’s sentiments. That is not to say that I agree with them necessarily, but I think I understand where he’s coming from.

A couple years ago, somebody got the bright idea to have Joshua Bell, who is apparently an extraordinarily accomplished violinist, play as a busker in a New York subway. Among the community of professional musicians and critics, there is little disagreement that Bell is one of the finest violinists in the world.

As you might expect, the New York subway rabble mostly ignored him. Despite the fact that he could fill Carnegie Hall with an announced performance, most people just walked on by without even stopping.

The first fascinating question: is Bell’s playing objectively better than a common subway busker’s? How would we tell?

Music is one of those fields that seems pretty subjective, so maybe we can’t. But let’s ask a simpler question: is it just complete bullshit? Is Bell’s playing objectively distinguishable from a common busker’s? It turns out that, to trained ears, the answer is very likely yes: if you put 100 buskers and Bell behind a screen and let them play for an expert audience, they would be able to pick out Bell. Bell’s playing has some qualities: technical accuracy, tonality, whatever, that distinguish him from amateurs, against some objective standard.

But if you put Bell and 100 buskers behind a screen, a lay-audience may not be able to pick out Bell. You have to study and train to pick out Bell from 100 buskers. Laypeople would not have a well-defined standard to evaluate the violinists, nor would they have the skill to fully evaluate a violinist against the standard.

In a world where it costs a lot (relatively speaking) to publish an opinion, the people who are trained in a subject are generally the ones who have their opinions solicited. You can argue about whether the standards they use really separate “good” from “bad,” but you probably can’t argue that they are incapable of evaluating something against that standard.

In a world where experts have publishing power, experts primarily defined the standards and evaluated things (violinists, recipes) against those standards. Although we could treat the standards as entirely subjective, it’s possible that at least some parts of the standard were objective: based on objective measures of technical correctness, or based on informed knowledge of social preferences gathered through studies and experience.

The Internet has shifted the balance of power. Now, amateurs can also speak loudly. Instead of a few standards, we now have millions. Instead of consistent evaluations against those standards, we now have inconsistent evaluations. And society at large does not have the expertise to understand or tell the difference.

The folks at Gourmet and violin aficionados are lamenting this, because their power has been diluted, and for their skills to remain marketable, they may have to achieve the impossible: convincing a huge majority of amateurs, who are largely incapable of evaluating their judgments, that their judgments are somehow superior (in objective quality, in consistency, whatever). Before, they just had to convince the publishers at Conde Nast, who were a small group who were apt to select experts for their expensive publication. Now they have to convince everybody. And “everybody,” in the aggregate, won’t select the best…they’ll select the good-enough. They will select the broccoli casserole that barely doesn’t suck, rather than the one that’s truly great.

The problems of Joshua Bell and the folks at Gourmet are the reasons that I am an engineer, and not a musician or a chef. In engineering, the standards are much less set by social preference, and much more by nature. The results are much easier to evaluate: either this black box produces the right outputs or it doesn’t. The rocket either made it to space or it blew up. The bridge either held up during the earthquake or it collapsed. “Better” is much more often quantifiable and explicable. I don’t have to spend too much time trying to argue that an expert engineer’s bridge designs are better than those solicited from amateurs on Twitter, because gravity will explain better than I ever will.

I find it interesting that “looks good to me” is a really, really obviously dangerous standard for bridge design, but “sounds good to me” and “tastes good to me” are socially acceptable in the violin and cooking domains. (Some would even argue that these “good-enough to a layperson” standards are the natural result of market economics and therefore are preferable almost by definition.)

Call me a snob, but on the whole I don’t want “the average person” designing my bridges, creating my recipes, directing me to violin music, performing surgery on me, or running the government. In fields where I have some expertise, I have seen great social damage done by decisions made that amateurs were sure were “good enough.” Literally millions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of hours, all gone into a black hole like tears in rain.

A phenomenon that makes it harder for experts to be experts concerns me a little, and maybe we should not be so unconcernedly excited about the newfound power and volume of the amateur.

Big Broccoli says:

Re: Re:

However, isn’t “perfect is the enemy of good enough” a fairly reliable engineering principle?

If the bridge holds up during an earthquake is it necessary to make it asteroid proof? I would contend you face the same problems as they do, yours are just funded prior to having a solution.

Josh Bell’s problem is that noone wants to buy what he is selling b/c it is too expensive. No gov’t would pay for your asteroid proof bridge if it cost 3 times as much as the “good enough” earthquake proof one.

Fridge Forager says:

Re: Re:

Good points raised, I agree, I don’t want superstructures or medical procedures based on ‘good enough’ or dictated by those with little clue. Function shall override form in those examples, one hopes, though form will always play a part (doc could sew you up with fishing line, but I doubt he’d have many repeat patients). Humans will, I believe, always go for beauty as well, but that is a subjective standard, and beauty must serve the function.

The subjective, as with cooking or music, will produce experts and afficionados based on interest. Nothing wrong with that, but I don’t see a relationship to endeavors needing objective data, like the effects of gravity or stress. I find the bridge ugly, but it won’t disintegrate under extreme condition…asteroids not withstanding, but I’m okay with that, as I will likely be vapor in that event.

I guess what I’m taking too long to say is that I don’t worry so much about objective arenas, where liabilties are at the forefront, but in the more subjective realms, there will always be a ‘snobbery’ factor enabled by some with expertise, and that will actually sell to some who want to be in that club. But exclusion and dismissal is what came across to me most in Kimball’s rant, and putting people who enjoy at least learning about the subject on the defensive isn’t helping him plead his case. Or even properly explain it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Call me a snob, but on the whole I don’t want “the average person” designing my bridges, creating my recipes, directing me to violin music, performing surgery on me, or running the government.

Fine, you’re a snob.

I substantially agree with the sentiment, but the core problem is you’re comparing disciplines where the reward/cost of success/failure are minor to those where they’re major. A bridge fails or a building collapses, people die. Listen to a bad violinist or eat a crappy pie (unless it’s really crappy pie), so what? And the time required to acquire the expertise to “properly” evaluate the the subjective qualities of say, art or music, have a negative ROI for the average person. If you think Big Macs are good eatin’, you have far more (and cheaper) food options than if you have a ‘refined’ palate. So the quantifiable upsides to discovering the joys of gourmet dining are minimal, outside of the approval/validation of foodies.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

A couple years ago, somebody got the bright idea to have Joshua Bell, who is apparently an extraordinarily accomplished violinist, play as a busker in a New York subway. Among the community of professional musicians and critics, there is little disagreement that Bell is one of the finest violinists in the world.

DC Metro, not the NYC Subway. NYers would have been a better test. 😛

But, seriously, that’s a bogus experiment, because context is everything in that situation. I remember reading that story when it came out, and it was fascinating (and the video was great to watch as well), but it’s ridiculous (bordering on idiotic) to assume from that that people don’t recognize greatness.

If you put 100 good violinists with Bell and asked people to pick out who was great, most would still pick Bell. That wasn’t the experiment in the Metro though. I’ve taken lots of subways/metros in my life, and when I do at rush hour, the last thing on my mind is stopping to listen to some guy playing a violin.

CastorTroy-Libertarian (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I am an Engineer as well (i am also a business person), and i see crowd sourcing as great.

But lets use your example. A bridge. If i posted a contest to this evil thing called the internet, and said hey submit your designs for a brige it will cross river y (I say y not). The winner picked out will recieve $5,000.00, I can say a few things, 1) i will have more submissions quicker than any RFQ i could put out. 2) any design taken into consideration to build would have to be looked at and evaulated by my engineeriers. 3) it will cost me less for the intial design and the 4) these unwashed masses that do their designs will look at it in different ways than any of us “engineers” have ever looked at making that particular bidge before. Just like anything you will have a bell curve of crap to great and everything in between, but it can and will work when the day is out.

Why because i used the amatuers and the experts to make something different and better.

I believe there is room for both, and i believe the amatuer will come up with more imagination than any expert ever would simply from not knowing it cant be done. From that enthusiasums comes the greats ideas, not the expert that thinks it cant be done.

Sandy Antunes (profile) says:

editorial was right,f or wrong reasons

I think the editorial was spot on with: “They can no longer be coronated; their voices have to be deemed essential to the lives of their customers.”

This has always been the ideal case for writing. In the past, magazine editors had to guess which writing was bringing in readers, based on a handful of reply letters and a single number called ‘sales’. In the web era, we now get this information instantly.

So we’ve shifted from the pair of gatekeepers (good) & nepotism (bad) to a mix of meritocracy (good) and populism (bad). It’s not worse, it’s just different, and I think it has pluses.

Alex
The Daytime Astronomer, http://scientificblogging.com/sky_day/

herodotus (profile) says:

This is bloody ridiculous. All food snobs are.

No matter how impeccable your demi-glace is, no matter how lacy and delicate your latke’s happen to be, no matter if you only use Plugra butter for your Pate Brisee, or organically grown heirloom tomatoes to make your arrabiata; no matter what you make or how you make it, it’s all going to come out of your ass the next day.

You would think that this consideration would keep foodies from taking themselves so fucking seriously, but clearly this is not the case.

Chef in the box says:

Kimball is right for the wrong reasons

Look, Kimball built his media kingdom on the things that matter today. He doesn’t accept advertising; his revenue is all about subscriptions, book sales, and a community that values his websites enough to pay for them. He has carefully cultivated a brand– several, actually– that teach us how to successfully manage in the kitchen. Gourmet’s revenue was based on a failing model– ad sales– and a subscription model that devalued their editorial (less than $1 an issue! screams their mailers). Yes, Gourmet had fabulous editorial, and I will miss it it, but Kimball’s business model is what will continue to work for someone who wants to actually make money in publishing.

DrE says:

The main problem with Kimball’s argument is that he fails to consider how to define an expert. The proper definition of an expert is not someone who has been trained (in school or in hard knocks). It is whether the decisions and an actions of the expert produce better outcomes than the non-expert. In the case of cooking, this would mean meals that all others (not just self-appointed experts) find preferable to those made by non-experts. There has been considerable research on asthetic judgements in the music area (see work by Dr. Konecni), the upshot of which is that music experts are no better than non-experts in making decisions about what is and is not “good” music. I suspect the same might true of asthetic judgements about food.

AnonCow says:

Kimball is a tool. His company charges a subscription for the print magazine but also charges an additional subscription for the magazine’s website. When I found out that I couldn’t search for the magazine’s recipes on the website for free, even with a magazine subscription, I canceled my magazine subscription.

Kimball – Stick to stupid simple recipes for talentless home cooks on public television. The commercial world will be better off without your asinine opinions.

JimW says:

Regarding Mr. Kimball & his magazine

Cooks Illustrated has great value many readers at various levels despite Mr. Kimball’s focused efforts at egomania, arrogance, and turning the publication into his own personal gold mine. Astute PBS viewers should recognize that America’s Test Kitchen is little more than an infomercial for Mr. Kimball’s books, magazines, and website. I agree with other comments regarding ignoring Mr. Kimball’s books and magazines, and instead just subscribe to the website for his information. It’s cheaper, has more info, saves space, and is more eco-friendly. Just watch out from their marketing practices, such as forced automatic renewal with no option to opt out.

bigpicture says:

Arrogance?

“I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.” (Isaiah 13:11)

Is this not a prophecy about these days in which we live, it is not like that it hasn’t been foretold. Is this not that same pride and arrogance in the extreme? This is just the weeding out of what is contrary to the good of humanity. So why is this news?

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Professionals and the school of hard knocks

Right on, Mike! My experience has been that most people with, say, “30 years experience in the school of hard knocks” are generally people who have one year’s experience repeated 30 times.
The best recipes I know of are from blogs and other “amateur” publications – I think they are generally improvements on stuff that someone found in, say, “Gourmet” or ????, but they tend to be improvements (usually ways to make “great” meals healthier or more practical – and incidentally, ways to make them taste better!).
I agree there will always be a place for “professionals”, though I have a very low opinion of anyone who purports to be an expert due to the “school of hard knocks” – education, in its finest form, is thousands of years of hard knocks carefully distilled for value – and ONLY the school of hard knocks – implies you have settled for 30 years instead of THOUSANDS of years!

Brendy says:

Thankfully...

The internet is even more helpful than taking even one expert’s opinion. Now before I buy or try something out, I am able to see what hundreds of other people said about the product with differing opinions and biases so that I can draw my own conclusion about whether or not the product will fit my particular needs. This guy is a knucklehead, and he is just butthurt that his magazine business is tanking. Boo-hoo, so is everyone else’s businesses.

Glenn (profile) says:

He has a valid point

Crowds and expertise are not interchangeable. Sure, foodies can be snobs, but this is a really important distinction. Too bad it’s mostly lost on all the google-heads in here.

I’m a subscriber to Cooks Illustrated, FWIW, by no means a foodie, but appreciate something well done, with insight and expertise. They’ve got that in spades.

I googled the broccoli salad recipe. The #1 recipe has Ritz Crackers on top, which pretty much proves his point.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: He has a valid point

“I googled the broccoli salad recipe. The #1 recipe has Ritz Crackers on top, which pretty much proves his point.”

I disagree. Have you tried the recipe? I haven’t, but it might be fantastic. And even if you don’t find it so, it just means that cooking with Ritz isn’t to your taste. There’s nothing wrong with that, and there’s also nothing wrong with thinking it’s delicious.

There’s no right or wrong with this sort of thing, and there’s no objectively better or worse. There’s just what you enjoy and what you don’t.

Thinking that including Ritz (or any other ingredient) makes a recipe objectively inferior is snobbery. It’s declaring one’s own preferences to be superior to others. And that’s BS.

Mandy says:

I googled broccoli casserole, the first recipe is crap, miracle whip, american cheese, cream of mushroom soup, can we get any more processed food into a recipe.

But I get what Christopher is saying and I don’t think he’s a food snob. He does appreciate good food and that is becoming a rarity.

I lament the passing of Gourmet magazine, mainly because I think it just shows how taste in food has changed, watch food network anymore and it’s rarely cooking, it’s food entertainment, doesn’t matter what it tastes like, it matters how quick one can get it on the table no matter how processed the food is.

I read a cooking blog recently and I use the term cooking very loosely that was esctatic over a 2 ingredient cake recipe, the ingredients, 1 box cake mix and 1 can diet coke. This would be funny if so many people didn’t think this was the best idea ever.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: If it tastes good, eat it.

The ultimate artiber for flavor is the eater. If someone wants to find an elaborate cake recipe that meets their tastes, they can seek it out. If someone wants a box a mix and a can of pop, they should be able to have that too.

The guy has it completely wrong. What is need is both more options back by a willingness to be honest about the results. There should always be room in life for the sophisticated elaborate treat, the trashy guilty pleasure, and everything in-between.

After reading my share of issues of Cook’s Illustrated, I learned that life’s too short to let some snob spend 3 pages telling me why their pie recipe is “perfect” in the most prententious language possible.

hexjones (profile) says:

Re: Re: If it tastes good, eat it.

“After reading my share of issues of Cook’s Illustrated, I learned that life’s too short to let some snob spend 3 pages telling me why their pie recipe is “perfect” in the most prententious language possible.”

I’m actually interested in reading about how someone else isolated the variables and tried different things until they found the best that they could do. This way, I can save time and money. There is nothing that says you can’t sub some ingredients here if you want more or less butter or cheese or whatever.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: If it tastes good, eat it.

“There is nothing that says you can’t sub some ingredients here if you want more or less butter or cheese or whatever.”

I can agree with that. IMO, when it comes to cooking, there is a relationship between science that underlies a recipe and how it actually turns out, and the art of making it tasty.

At the same time, I find their writing style painful. Each trial recipe written in terms going beyond “here’s why I like it” into the kind of near raving and mugging that bothers me when I see it in cooking shows.

I’ll freely cop that it’s a personal thing.

Ben says:

Brooklyn Lasagna!

Take 1 box of macaroni & cheese (the cheaper the better).
One pound of elCheapo hamburger meat.
One big yellow onion.
One 16oz Can of tomato sauce (8oz if you like it drier).
Garlic powder & black pepper.

Fry up the meat with the chopped onion, garlic powder & pepper. Add the tomato sauce and simmer in the same pan.
Boil the Mac, drain, add the meaty sauce and cheese powder to the macaroni mix and eat (serves 1 hog or 2 hungry people).

Newbie says:

I like Cooks Illustrated and especially like the tv program “America’s Test Kitchen”. That being said, I won’t ever sign up with them for the magazine or web-site. Dad ordered their mag and was sent un-ordered cookbooks. Pestered with all types of marketing crap. Lousy experience.

I’ll take the free and the occasional magazine at the store. But that is it.

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