Cook the books

Cook the books

Cookbook writers seem to be wrong at predicting how long it will take to prepare a meal. Chris Kimball, editor of Cook’s Illustrated, a favorite, got to the heart of it:

“Utter bullshit,” he said … of cooking times. Kimball is no slacker; CI, as its devoted readers know, has a well-earned reputation for accuracy. They’ll bake a chocolate torte 500 times before publishing the results. Yet Kimball doesn’t include start-to-finish times in his recipes; he rejects outright the notion that they can be measured with precision. “Thirty-minute recipes are never 30 minutes,” he says. “It’s marketing.”

Specific times are fairly new phenomenon:

Older recipe books, such as The Joy of Cooking and the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, assumed an audience with a certain level of competency in the kitchen, and so never bothered to say how long it would take to prepare a given meal.

But today:

See also:
Unlocking The Secrets of Time

[M]ore people with less experience are attempting to put food on the table, and so cookbooks have become more explicit. But if our recipe-writing royalty are regularly off by a factor of two, then they’re not helping novices — they’re confusing them.

Good thing someone is translating.