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The Recipe Dispute

"Oh my God ... this is the best thing I have ever tasted!"

We had just finished a holiday meal at my sister's. She invited some of her closest friends to join us for dinner, and dessert was being served. There was quite a spread, and this particular confection looked especially irresistible. It was a round crumb cake loaded with blueberries, sugar and cinnamon. It was incredible ... a masterpiece.

"I MUST have the recipe!"

The table became silent. You could cut the quiet with a cake knife. All her friends glanced toward one another with raised eyebrows and half smiles, and then at me.

"What's the matter?" I asked my sister, who was sitting next to me.

"Linda made the cake," she said, "and she doesn't give out the recipe."

As if she didn't hear the conversation going on around her, Linda—a friend of my sister's—kept on eating her dessert while everyone else looked at me, shook their heads and rolled their eyes.

"I am sorry, but I don't give out this recipe."

"We have been asking her for this recipe for years but she won't give it to any of us," said a friend.

"Why not?" I asked, glancing in Linda's direction.

"She doesn't share it. She never has. She never will," another friend quipped.

Linda, starting to get annoyed by the discussion, replied in a matter of fact way, "I am sorry, but I don't give out this recipe."

"Really?" and "Are you kidding me?" are the thoughts that run through my mind.

The cake looked straightforward enough. I took another bite and started to name the ingredients that I thought I was tasting.

"Don't waste your breath. She won't respond."

My sister, seeing where this was going and recognizing the futility of the situation, whispered to me that her friend Gail, who was sitting across from me, thinks she has the recipe figured out and she will send it to me.

"It's not exact, but we all think it's pretty close."

I believe that good food and how it's made is something to be shared.

I was in disbelief at what was happening. I could not understand why someone wouldn't share a recipe with her good friends and I was intrigued by all the upset it has obviously been causing. Linda is not a celebrity chef. What did she think would happen if she divulged the "secret" recipe? Was one of her closest friends going to run off with it and sell it to an investment firm who was looking to make a fortune with crumb cake recipes? Famous chefs share their recipes in cookbooks as do well-known restaurants. Is Linda trying to impress her friends and in doing so overriding the true meaning of friendship, which is sharing and caring?

I believe that good food and how it's made is something to be shared; and being asked for a recipe should be considered a lovely compliment. I understand that the willingness to do so is a personal choice; but in my opinion it seems selfish to not oblige the requests of her closest friends.

Why would someone choose to keep a recipe a secret? It is difficult to try to understand the thought process that goes on inside someone else's head. If Linda grew up in a family where this was a common practice, this attitude may seem normal to her. Maybe she feels that by keeping the recipe a secret, she is giving herself a sense of mystery and intrigue, making everyone wonder what else she might be keeping to herself.

If she grew up being forced to share everything, this might enable her to feel a sense of ownership. And perhaps she believes that by giving away her recipe, its specialness would be diminished, making her feel less important.

One can only speculate what her reasons might be, and we will never know for certain. But let's not lose sight of what is truly important, and that is to figure out how to make this fabulous recipe.

Here is Gail's version of what she believes to be Linda's blueberry crumb cake recipe. It should be enjoyed and shared with family and friends. It is amazing!

Gail's Version of Linda's Blueberry Crumb Cake Recipe


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