On Originality of Recipes

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by athenaeus, Feb 2, 2002.

  1. athenaeus

    athenaeus

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    Ok We have discussed this again and again in different threads but now let's do a deep discussion on that.

    Let's talk about originality in recipes...

    The final stroke was this thread about Bolognaise sauce.
    If a sauce wants to be called Bolognaise it should be made the way that people of Bologna what to make it.Or not?

    If a cheese cake wants to be called New York cheese cake must be prepared the way that Neorkers do it and not the Greek restauranteur thinks that it should be made...Or not?

    Do I mean that we should " allow" only to NYorkers to make NY Cheese cake and not to Atheneans?
    Of course not!! But what I am suggesting is when you use the regional name of a recipe and you decide to add or remove ingredients you should say that is a " Type of NY cheese cake" etc etc

    Right?????

    Question number 2.

    When you are building themes for your restaurants, like the one we did for Morocco. Do you take in your mind that you can make just Morocco type dishes or you are persuaded that you actually make Moroccan cuisine?
     
  2. cape chef

    cape chef

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    I think many recipes are open to personal interpretation, also they are can be very subjective. Sauce bolongnese is prepared in Bolongna with milk, Yet you can find a 1000 recipes using none.

    I prepare foods in the "style" of the country. I also add my own twist to dishes, kind of to build on the foundation laid many years before I ever entered a kitchen. Yesterday at work I made a chicken Tajine and an eggplant condiment that my Moroccan friend told me how to make. I made this only for the service staff to enjoy. Sied, took a couple mouth fulls of the eggplant, looked at me with a big smile and a thumbs up and said "This is it,you got it" Now to me I was very happy that I made a dish that gave comfort to a friend, Was this True Moroccan food? I don't know, but it made a moroccan and also my garde manger (from Algeria)very happy. When I made the Tajine of chicken for example, I used all what I have read as of late on this dish. I did however lay some wands of rosemary in the dish to add a perfume. This was noticed right away by my friend, he said he loved the tajin, but rosemary is not used in moroccan cuisine. It tasted good, But it was not authentic. If I were to put this on my menu I would probably call it a spiced roast chicken in the style of morocco.
    athenticety is important to respect for it's ancient origins, I think of the million ways polenta is prepared today in America, But all I can picture in my mind is a 75 year old woman stirring and stirring and stirring the meal in a big black couldren over an open flame.
    A little parmesan cheese and there you have it. Now we take this simple meal and turn it into modern art. I am guilty of this my self. I make a warm polents and goat cheese tower with a rouget of duck confit and wild shrooms as an app at work. It's taste is sublime, but the concept is all over the place. If I make New England clam chowder with canned clams from out west and call it New England chowder, I would be doing a diservice to my guests. But when I buy quohogs from my waters and use them, I am being honest to the dish. I hope some of this makes sence.
    cc
     
  3. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    I totally agree CC. You know my feelings on "authentic" foods, but many times the question arises; What is the authentic way to make it? Spending time in New Orleans, I learned that very quickly. Ask 100 New Orleans natives how to make Gumbo, Jambalaya, or Red Beans and Rice and you will get almost 100 different answers. The same goes for many dishes in many cuisines. Bologense is a good example also of how things can be sightly different. Milk was probably used most often (and just became the classical way) because the cream was probably used for other things, but if someone had an excess of cream, sure, they probably would have used that. Food is always an interpertation. It varies slightly with each person (and sometimes each and every time it is made) and with what that person has available to them. Is it no longer confit, because someone likes to use some coriander in their cure? If New England Clam Chowder contains a pinch of Old Bay Seasoning is it no longer New England Clam Chowder? Calling something by a specific name should connotate some adherence to a set recipe, but that doesn't mean it needs to be followed to the exact letter.

    On the other hand, I like CC's use of the word "style" to connotate something that is done to evoke a certain cuisine, but then takes some liberities that you may not find in that traditional dish or cuisine. It gives a reference point for the dish, yet it allows for some play and experimentation.
     
  4. athenaeus

    athenaeus

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    Cape Chef, within a phrase you capitulated what I - at least- think that we should do.
    Like Pete I am not maniac with authenticity and I think that the clients are those that make the cooks to play the "authenticity" card.
    Cooks know very well that the question of authenticity does not really exist, it's more a matter of "honesty " towards the dish.
    But as chefs know, honesty is matter of knowledge. Right ?
     
  5. cape chef

    cape chef

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    I understand very well how hard it is to be perfectly authentic.
    I also believe in building one's recipes with unique expressions of one's self. This is called Creativity, But If we are to try and teach and boulster a sence of history and tradition with food, we must be true to the foundation. What is a foundation, but to build upon.
    cc
     
  6. marmalady

    marmalady

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    CC, I wasn't searching for authenticity in my question about Bolognese sauce, but as you stated, searching for a 'foundation'; my confusion came when I could find no foundation!

    I agree with you totally. In my martial art, students will often come to Sensei (teacher) with questions like, 'Sensei, how about if I do this technique this way instead of that way?' The answer is always, study the basics; it's not until you learn the basics that you can expand. 'And what are the basics?' They're all basics!
     
  7. peachcreek

    peachcreek

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    Everything I make is authentically mine. I definately have my own style and interpretation of classic dishes. Where I got the idea or method from REALLY ISN'T IMPORTANT IF YOU LIKE THE FOOD! I get tired of people who try to make static something like food, which by its very nature will never be EXACTLY the same every time. Get over it and learn to enjoy food for what IT is. SAVOR IT. ENJOY IT. YOU MAY NEVER GET THE CHANCE AGAIN!

    "Do you ever think someone walked up to Vincent Van Gogh and said-Hey man, paint "A Starry Night" again.."
    -Joni Mitchell.
     
  8. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    I have never had a problem with creativity. It is the lifeblood of this profession, often times. As the previous post alluded to, though, it is hard to be creative, and have something good come out of it if you don't have a strong foundation. Learn the basics, study the how's and why's. Then you can play and experiment, and create something beautiful.

    My problem is not with creativity, it is more a question of semantics (wording). If you experiment and create something new and different, create a name or give it a descriptive name, don't take a classical name and bastardize it. Take bologenese for example since that is what we are using in this thread. You can add some things to it and still call it bolognese as long as it still is true to the orignial, but change the dish completely (as most Americans do by calling a meat-tomato sauce bolognese) and you need to come up with another name for it. It doesn't make your sauce bad, just different, and not bolognese. Make a brandade style dish if you want with sole and parsnips. It will probably be quite good, but it is not brandade. It is something new and unique and to call it brandade, not only is disrespectful to the original brandade, it doesn't do justice to the new thing you have created.
     
  9. jock

    jock

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    Picking up on Pete's theme, if you go to Yorkshire (England) you will find that virtually every household has it's own version of Yorkshire Pudding. And who's to say which, if any of them are "authentic".
    It seems to me that most dishes have evolved over time and (one hopes) will continue to do so. If that is so, one would almost have to take a snap shot at an arbitrary point in the evolutionary process to determine authenticity.
    Other dishes were specifically created for a particular person or event. Variations of these can be easily measured against the authentic original. (Beef Stroganoff or a Pavlova for example.)
    My clam chowder is clam chowder. I don't describe it by culture or region but everybody knows that my version is based upon a recognizable original idea.
    I guess I'm kind of in two minds about this. On the one hand I agree that we should respect the culture or region that produced the dish. If we are going to mention either by name, we should be reasonably faithful to the original. On the other hand I think any dish is fair game for inspiration and I don't get too hung up on the ethics of it.

    Jock
     
  10. peachcreek

    peachcreek

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    Whats authentic? Authentic is what people ate so they didn't starve to death. We forget that less than 100 years ago, food was seen VERY differently than it is today. People made do with what they had. Ingredients were limited, thus the reason that dishes were created so similarly. Now is a whole different story. Now we have the luxury of ingredients from around the country and world. But authenticity is about method. And the thought behind the dish. The world view of its birthplace, not the ingredients themselves.
    Heres a thought. Write a book on the premise that you buy a couple of bags of groceries and you give those same groceries to some everyday families in say 25 different countries, and see what they did with them...
     
  11. rachel

    rachel

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    Is one of the problems not also the sin of laziness? i remember a while back we were discussing in a thread the fact many recipe books are written by people who haven't even tested the recipes.
    Unfortunately there are a large number of people who do not respect authenticity and are too lazy to learn that - for example - Morrocans do not use rosemary. I have been very shocked recently to see what people claim are romesceu sauces -thing which have almost one of the authentic ingredients. yes there must be hundreds of different recipes for bolognese sauce in houses in Bologna, but they will all have a number of things that are in common and essential to them. There are thousands of ways of making tomato sauce, but if you don't put any tomatoes in it it isn't tomato sauce! Likewise pesto made with parsley isn't pesto! I believe that chefs should make their personal interpretations on food -otherwise we might as well all eat cheeseburgers made with the same cheese, but with enough knowldge to know what is authentic and what is a different dish 'in the style' of a more traditional one. This happens all too rarely
     
  12. cape chef

    cape chef

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    This is true Rachel, The more you learn, the more you relieze your place in history. As a Chef I am enternally greatful that I have the ability to study and research all the wonderful foods that we can put on our tables. To interprete a dish, you must fully understand it's provenance. Until then you can not truely call something your own. My thoughts.
    cc
     
  13. snakelady1

    snakelady1

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    Okay so if I make a cilantro pesto would I be correct in saying a cilantro sauce in the style of pesto or can I just say cilantro pesto????
     
  14. adam

    adam

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    Authenticity is a client thing. I agree that cooks know where inpirations starts and where authenticity ends.
    I want to say just another thing.
    If I go to shop now authentic ingredients for haggis and I take the plane to Italy , if I prepare my haggis in Italy, will they be authentic if I have them under the hot sun?
    IMHO no.
     
  15. rachel

    rachel

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    I don't think that it would be pesto, it would be more like mojo verde from the Canary islands except made with cilantro rather than parsley. Would you put parmesan and pine nuts in with cilantro? Would you then be able to say, carrot sauce in the style of tomato sauce in that case?
     
  16. pongi

    pongi

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    Assuming that there are no general rules (as everyone here said, traditional recipes are never codified), my opinion is that a dish can be considered "the original one" when the natives can recognize it as theirs.
    If someone from Genoa eats a dish of pasta with pesto and can call it "pesto", I don't care if it has be made in New York, Athens or Honolulu...it's Pesto!
    If he says "well, it's good, but it's NOT pesto", independently from the way it's made, it means it's something else
    This is my "Ethologic" theory! ;)
    As for Bolognese sauce...read my post!

    Pongi
     
  17. lwunderlich

    lwunderlich

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    Pongi, I like your explanation. Even tuna casserole has to pass an authenticity test in Minnesota. If a native says it's ok then it is. Same goes for pesto, etc. Thanks!

    Rue
     
  18. pongi

    pongi

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    Thanks you, Rue!

    BTW...although mine could be considered also an Ethnologic theory, I just said "Ethologic", meant as "behavioral". That was a joke;) as the term usually refers to animals...

    Pongi:)
     
  19. sabra_1

    sabra_1

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    Hi everyone great post this one, I have been a chef for many yrs and I am 1/2 french so what you might say, well so many french classical dishes, just had to change, some of the sauces for example can be 3 sauces in one, who the heck has the time.Another thing we think we invent things all the time, but nothing is new just all rehashed, how many times have you felt someone took your idea only to find that person might also have the capacity and flare to change, the flavours a little, if we don't change flavours we don't use what we are gifted with and that is flare, style and artistic expression, a slant on an old flavour shows someone doesn't have to stick in the same groove.
    Long live, people who like change.10
     
  20. ruth

    ruth

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    WELL ALL SORTS OF DILEMAS. I AGREE IN EXECUTING TO THE ORIGINATION OF THE DISH.IF YOU GO TO THE REGION WHERE IT CAME FROM YOU WILL HAVE YOUR ANSWER.CULINARY SCHOOL PROVIDES THAT FOUNDATION.THAT IS WHY YOU LEARN STOCK,SAUCE.........
    HOWEVER THERE ARE PLACES IN WHICH WE WORK WHERE THAT ITEM NEEDS TO BE THE SAME EVERYTIME ALL THE TIME,NOW ISN'T THAT WHY PEOPLE FREQUENT EATING ESTABLISHMENTS.FOR THE CONSISTENCY.SO WHEN WE ARE COOKING ,AT LEAST FOR ME,IF I AM MAKING A REGIONAL ITEM I AM TRUE TO THE AREA.THAT IS WHAT MADE THAT ITEM FAMOUS TO STArt WITH. NOW THERE IS SOMETHING TO BE SAID FOR USING ITEMS FROM THE SAME REGION AND EXPANDING THERE LIMITS AND DESTINATION.THAT IS CREATING.