On being ... out of touch

By Ingrid Sapona

What comes to mind when you read: goat butter? Do you think: “Maybe it’s a quirky invective or interjection – kind of like bollix or fiddle-faddle.” Or maybe you think: “Yum – gotta get me some of that!”

If you fall into the latter category, then perhaps you’ll be pleased to hear that Goat Butter Shortbread is the Number 4 recipe on Epicurious’ list of the "109 Best Cookie Recipes to Make Again and Again." Honestly – Epicurious’ editors think Goat Butter Shortbread “may be the star of your Christmas cookie platter.”

Mind you, if you’ve just used up the last of your goat butter for some other recipe, don’t worry. Of the 109 Best Cookie Recipes, there are other shortbread recipes you might be interested in. For example, Number 24: Blood Orange and Poppy Seed Polenta Shortbread. If you can’t find any fresh blood oranges, that’s ok. The editor’s say you can use bottled blood orange juice and the zest of a navel orange. What’s that? Your grocery store doesn’t have any blood orange juice? Damn – this Covid-thing is really screwing up supply chains, eh? 

But again, no worries: scroll on down to Number 102 for the Whole Grain Shortbread with Einkorn and Rye Flour recipe. Surely you have einkorn flour in your pantry. (And while you’re pulling that out – you’ll also need some rye flour and a bit of rice flour for that particular recipe.)

I’ve always found Epicurious’ lists ridiculous. How can 109 recipes all be “the best”? Heck, the editors couldn’t even agree on THE best shortbread recipe – there are seven on the list! I guess the idea is that with 109 recipes, there’s bound to be something any given reader would want to try. Indeed, the fact that I read through the list is testament to the reality that even absurdly titled lists draw readers in.

Of course, Epicurious’ editors aren’t the only ones who love list-based headlines. Just last week the New York Times’ Cooking newsletter featured “47 Recipes for Thanksgiving Leftovers”. And Food 52 had one called “55 Crock-Pot Recipes to Set & Forget.” Other than being surprised at the sheer number of unique Thanksgiving leftover recipes and crock-pot recipes – I don’t find those headlines nearly as annoying as Epicurious’ 109 Best Cookie headline. Why? Because neither of the other two lists are pretending to be anything more than a cumulation of recipes of a certain type. The Times and Food 52 aren’t touting any of those recipes as being anything more than tried and considered decent enough to pass on – no claims to being “the best”.

As I noted, though I snickered at Epicurious’ absurd title, I figured it was worth a quick scroll through. But, I didn’t get very far into it before I got irritated. The goat butter shortbread recipe was the first that had me shaking my head. Trust me, it’s not because the idea of goat butter grosses me out – after all, how different could it be from chevre, which is also made of goat milk. No, I was annoyed because it seems wrong to feature recipes with obscure ingredients with a damned pandemic going on!

I’m all for trying new recipes – heck – that’s why I subscribe to such newsletters. And I get that many folks are feeling Covid-fatigue and so they’re looking for inspiration and maybe trying a new recipe will help. But showcasing recipes with esoteric ingredients is tantamount to sending folks out on a treasure hunt. Given how rampant the virus is in many places, the editors may as well have added corona virus to the ingredient list. After all, the more stores and places intrepid bakers visit in their search, the more they risk exposure to Covid. And why? To try a new Christmas cookie recipe?

If your thinking that a more appropriate title for this column would have been On being … over the top (given the goat butter and all), you’re right. But the very first thought I had when I saw multiple recipes with hard to find ingredients is that the editors are really out of touch. Out of touch with both the availability of such items and with the realities of the risks related to traipsing around for ingredients during a pandemic.

Post Script: After I finished this column, I decided to see whether any of the major Canadian grocery delivery services (Loblaws, Voila by Sobeys, and Longo’s Grocery Gateway) carry goat butter, blood orange juice, or einkorn flour. Well, it turns out they ALL carry goat butter – but not the juice or flour. So, I guess Canadian bakers interested in trying cookie Number 4 can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing they can get out goat butter delivered to their door. Even so, this year I’ll stick to baking a batch of my Mom’s brown sugar shortbread. They’re delicious and comforting – the perfect antidote to Covid-fatigue – not to mention, I always have butter, brown sugar, and all-purpose flour on hand.

© 2020 Ingrid Sapona 


Post a Comment

<< Home