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What Is a Recipe?

  • Andrea Borghini
Articles

Abstract

The ontology of recipes is by and large unexplored. In this paper, I offer a three-steps account. After introducing some key terminology, I distinguish four main options for a theory of recipes: realism, constructivism, existentialism, and the naïve approach. Hence, I first argue that recipes are social entities whose identity depends (also) on a process of identification, typically performed by means of a performative utterance on the part of a cook (e.g. “This is fettuccine Alfredo,” “This is falafel”); thus, the best theoretical framework for a theory of recipes is a constructivist. Secondly, I argue that the identity of recipes can be grasped only by being suitably acquainted with the dishes that instantiate them, because of the impossibility to spell out recipes in details that would match a full-fledged dish; hence, the authority to establish the identity of a recipe rests on a process of apprenticeship. Finally, I argue that the identity of recipes and—vicariously—of the dishes that instantiate them, rest on three factors: the expertise required on the part of the cook; authenticity (in turn based on the fit and approval rate of any purported rendering); and the open-ended character of recipes.

Keywords

Recipes Ontology Identity Authenticity in food 

Notes

Acknowlegment

I thank an anonymous referee, Naomi Arbit and Carolyn Richardson for helpful comments on a previous version of this paper. Research for the paper grew out of a long period of confrontation with colleagues and friends, including: Andrea Baldini, Dario Cecchini, Andrea Falaschi, Christia Mercer, Nicola Perullo, Bridget Potter, Gus Rancatore, Achille Varzi, Merry “Corky” White, and Ben Wurgaft. I wish to thank also the students in the seminars on the philosophy of food that I taught over the past 7 years at the College of the Holy Cross and at the University of Gastronomic Sciences.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyCollege of the Holy CrossWorcesterUSA

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