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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bedside Reading: Aims of a Perfectly Written Recipe

Style guides are not most people's idea of fun reading, but then again most people haven't worked as technical writers. I enjoy preciseness. I appreciate easy-to-follow, well thought out instructions.

"[T]he aims of a perfectly written recipe closely resemble the aspirations of a well-balanced life. Consider the key goals: order, clarity, accuracy, and style. One possible outcome of such goal achieved, whether related to life or to recipes, is longevity--given well-chosen input and a good measure of luck."
-Antonia Allegra, p.xiv

I picked up The Recipe Writer's Handbook mainly to help me edit the recipes for our wedding favors. In my reading, I've discovered it's much more than a guide to how to list ingredients. It contains a wealth of information that I hadn't seen in many of my cookbooks. For example, did you know that to braise something, just means to simmer, covered?

I find myself frequently referring to this handbook, and using it as more of a dictionary, when I'm trying to decipher someone else's recipe.

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