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Dummying Us Down?

January 17, 2001

You appear to have let the inmates take over the asylum ("In the Kitchen," Jan. 10). "Clarifying" recipes by adding articles (I felt I was drowning in "thes" as I browsed this morning's collection) is absurd, unless, perhaps, this is supposed to be an aid to those whose first language is not English. Anyone else who can't understand a recipe without all the "thes" is probably too dangerous to be near a kitchen!

Putting the oven temperature, preheating instruction, pan size and preparation at the beginning of a recipe is helpful, although most people read the entire recipe before they begin so this comes as no surprise.

One thing that you do need to do is mention the dividing of an ingredient when the ingredient is listed. One recipe called for 6 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Then in the body of the recipe, 5 1/2 tablespoons were called for, and later the "remaining" tablespoon was mentioned. This can slow up any cook who pre-measures ingredients. Most of the good sources just say "6 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided," inviting the reader to look further before measuring.

I am also troubled by your alternation between this "Cooking for Dummies" approach and many complicated, exotic recipes from other cultures. Many of your readers would appreciate a more balanced approach. You could do with some training with Marion Cunningham, still the most intelligent and common-sense cook on the planet. She speaks to everyone--novices and pros alike.

L. LEACH

Via e-mail

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