I was just listening to So Long and Thanks for all the Fish, by Douglas Adams, on my ipod. There is a key scene in the book where minor character "Wonko the Sane". talks about how he decided to withdraw from society and become a hermit after he saw that there were instructions on the side of a toothpick box.
See Wikipedia reference here.
A society that needs to be told how to use a toothpick, he reasoned, is not one he wanted to be a part of.
Well, I’ve had my own toothpick moment recently. It came when I was flipping through some vegetarian cookbooks that I picked up at the library to try to figure out what the heck to do with the veggies that keep coming in from my CSA.
A little background here. I’m the type of girl who uses recipes as guidelines. For better or worse, after I’ve made something for the first time, I’ll often go off the reservation, adding more of one thing, less of another, and doing the dish from memory. Most of the time, say, for meat marinades and soups, this works fine. Other times, for, say, chocolate mousse for example (and this is purely hypothetical, I assure you), substitution is a bad idea and blows up in your face.
Hence why I’m a fruit cobbler girl, not a fruit pie girl. Pie crusts are an exact science. Cobbler topping is not.
Anyway, I’m reading this cookbook (which shall remain nameless), and on the inside front cover, there’s this disclaimer:
The recipes contained in this book are to be followed exactly as written. The Publisher is not responsible for your specific health and allergy needs that may require medical supervision. The Publisher is not responsible for any adverse reactions to the recipes contained in this book.
What. The. Fondue.
The recipes contained in this book are to be followed exactly as written.
Seriously? Gee, thanks Big Brother! I guess I’ll just turn myself in if I have butter beans but no kidney beans.
OK, I get it that pre-packaged products need to label allergens. I'm friendly with many people with life-threatening allergies, and they say it's a lifesaver, literally. But if you are allergic to nuts, and you make a recipe that calls for nuts, isn’t that more of a suicidal streak than a legal liability?
A society that needs to be told how to use a cookbook is not one that I want to be a part of. Excuse me while I go build The Outside of the Asylum now.