Look at these two current covers from Saveur and Fine Cooking. Shame on them. The editors imply that only perfect food is worthwhile, and that anything else you make is — well, sub par.
And who makes food that is less than perfect? Me. Most of us. Like you, I do my best. It looks good and tastes good. That’s enough for me.
But is it actually “perfect?” And who decides? Actually, I don’t need a critic over my shoulder, telling me my cooking is not good enough.
And if my food is not perfect, does that mean I’ve failed? I don’t want to fail at cooking.
Is this what cooking is all about now, that there is only one standard? You’d get that idea from the competitive cooking shows with their judges and stressed out contestants. And we writers continue this myth by using this word in publications and websites. All.The.Time.
Even Gwnynth Paltrow says that perfection is a bad idea. And at Real Simple, using “perfect” is forbidden, an editor told me.
If you are one of those writers who uses the word “perfect” when describing cooking, please stop. I cut the word out of recipe headnotes and titles. My clients are not asking me to do this. But I am so over “perfection” in recipe writing.
Imagine that you were teaching children. Would you want them to believe there is only one way to do something, and it was the perfect way, whatever that was? And if they couldn’t do it, that meant they had failed? You wouldn’t. Right?
So why do we expect this from each other? Is our profession full of perfectionists, control freaks, worriers, and anxiety-prone folks? Wow. We are something, aren’t we?
Cooking isn’t about perfection. It’s about joy, community, love, sharing, and creativity. That’s why I cook. It’s probably why you cook. So why do food writers lose sight of what’s really important?
Let’s stop, everyone. Right now.