Sunday, 10 October 2004

Recipe for a recipe

i am always raving and ranting about how things are badly thought out or badly designed and i just want to talk about the typical layout of a recipe. for some reason they have an ingredient list first and then a description of method without ingredient quantities. this means that to follow the recipe, you need to keep refering back to the ingredient list.

it goes something like this: "going to work"
ingredients -
distance a (200m)
distance b (650m)
distance c (1050m)
direction d (west)
direction e (north)
direction f (south)
bus g (route123)
bus h (route 321)
instruction i (travel 4 stops westward)
instruction j (travel 7 stops southwards)
time k (6:45AM)
time l (7:02AM)
location m (cnr of smith and jones street)
location n (oposite the supermarket)

method -
prepairing additional times in order to prepare the leaving and arriving times, use a calculator or pen and paper to do the following calculations. leaving time will be time k minus 2 minutes for fast walkers or time k minus 3 minutes for the not so fast. arriving time will be 15, 18 or 21 minutes after time l depending whether youre walking speed is fast, average or slow (in that order). set arriving time asside.
main trip leave home at the leaving time you determined above and walk for distance a in direction a, watching for location m. at time k, catch bus g from m and follow instruction i. after getting off the bus walk in direction b for distance b being careful not to go past location n. wait untill time l then catch bus h and follow instruction j. follow direction c for distance c to arrive at work at arriving time as prepaired earlier.

if you have a tv cooking show and you prepare all the ingredients in 47 different dishes and line them up before hand the standard recipe is OK but if you have to wash those dishes afterward or want to exercise some creativity in the process then it may be better to write it like this:
leave home at about 6:42-6:43AM
walk 200m westwards to the corner of smith and jones
at 6:45AM catch bus 123 westwards and alight after 4 stops
walk 650m northwards to the bus stop opposite the supermarket
at 7:02AM catch bus 321 southwards and alight after 7 stops
walk 1050 southwards arriving at work about 15-21 minutes later

obviously the examples are contrived but the second is much easier to follow and is shorter. if you think i am being to pedantic, there is at least one other person who agrees with me. her name is Bea Sandler and she has written a book called the African Cookbook (ISBN0-8065-1398-5) in which recipes are organised like this. This way of writing recipes shows the ingredients and what is done to them in the same place so i suppose it should be called object oriented recipe writing.

PS. ignore the last sentence if you are not a computer head.