If a copy editor has ever touched your cookbook manuscript, you will relate.
And if you haven’t had the experience yet, you will be intrigued — and possibly worried.
Before I start this discussion, however, I want to be clear. I’m grateful for all the goofs our very capable copy editor caught in chef Craig Priebe’s and my new pizza book (The USA of Pizza, October, 2015) manuscript.
But man, some of the queries made us scratch our heads. Here are three examples. I want to know what you think:
1. I wrote “1/4 cup chopped almonds.” The copy editor asked “How many almonds?”
My feeling is that people shouldn’t have to count almonds, most of the time.
2. I wrote “1/4 cup chopped onions.” The copy editor asked, “How much of an onion?”
Depends, I thought. What size is the onion? The chef wanted a more accurate measure.
3. Same thing with celery. I wrote “1 cup chopped celery.” She asked how many stalks.
Then she asked about green onions, red peppers, mushrooms, and olives.
I asked our editor if I had to change the amounts. He said he could see her point if the reader was making a grocery list. But typically readers can’t purchase less than one onion, or 10 almonds, or a single stalk of celery. Given that they have to buy at least 1 onion, a bag of almonds, and a bunch of celery, there would be enough to make the recipe.
Our editor didn’t insist. My co-author wanted precision in the ingredients, being a chef. And I didn’t want to write double amounts. The Recipe Writers Handbook says to “call for each ingredient as it is commonly purchased in the grocery or market, then add simple preparation techniques.” That means I would write, each time:
- 2 small stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
This solution seemed overly complicated to me. So I left the measurements as is.
What do you think? Was there a better way? How would you resolve this?