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February 24, 1991

The Dervish's Rosary ("Stewpendous," by Charles Perry, Jan. 6) sounds so good I am making it today.

This is to request that you please not list whole ingredients such as eggplant (and meat) by the cup. I do not understand why you and other recipe makers insist on such impractical accuracy. Meat and vegetables do not exist by the cup. What I am supposed to do with the leftover food? Or what if I cut up a small eggplant and it does not make a cup "tightly packed"? Clearly, this is not cake-baking, so that precise amount does not matter that much. It makes much more sense, at least in parentheses, to suggest the size of the vegetable and the weight of meat.

DAVID C. BURKENROAD

Los Angeles

Charles Perry replies: We measure ingredients as ready for use, because fresh meat and vegetables always involve a certain amount of waste. The weight as purchased at the store can't take into account the amount of trimming needed because of the variety, age and condition of a vegetable, the exact proportion of fat and bone to meat and so on. Calling for "a medium eggplant" is no answer either, because most readers consider it an excessively vague measurement. The traditional frugal solution is not to try to purchase the exact size of vegetable needed but to shop by eye and save any usable trim for other dishes. If you have no use for eggplant trim, though, go ahead and add it to the Dervish's Rosary recipe. It will make a difference in the dish, but much less than substituting olive oil for butter will.

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