The Recipe: A
Fable for Our Times
By Kerry-Rebecca Blaine
Once there was a team of great chefs who invented
what they thought was the greatest, most perfect recipe in the world. As
they envisioned it, The Recipe would produce the most delightful, tasty
food dish ever. People would cry from delight at the sheer ecstasy of
tasting the food produced from this fantastic recipe.
Happy stomachs would make happy people and peace
would reign throughout the world because of it, the chefs thought grandly.
One Friday afternoon, the chefs invited a group of villagers to taste the
fantastic Recipe. The village square was superbly decorated and all the
people gathered about outside picnic tables, excited beyond all
description, for their anticipation of tasting The Recipe.
Then the chefs brought out the food dish cooked from
The Recipe with great fanfare. Eagerly, the village residents dived into
One problem: it tasted terrible. In fact, it was the
worst-tasting food the villagers had ever experienced. They cried all
right – but in tears of disgust, not of joy and ecstasy. It was that
“Surely,” said the chefs, “the fault cannot be
with The Recipe. It is the most perfect Recipe ever devised by mankind.
There must be some other explanation.”
“The oven wasn’t calibrated correctly,” they
announced. A technician was put to work to fix the calibration problem.
When it was fixed, the chefs cooked again a dish from The Recipe and
invited the villagers to taste the product of their labors.
It was still terrible. In fact, The Recipe cooked
from the correctly calibrated oven tasted even worse than before. The
villagers were angry and upset.
The chefs weren’t fazed by this reaction, however.
Nothing was wrong with The Recipe, they insisted. What was truly wrong,
they decided, was that the ingredients weren’t fresh.
The chefs sent messengers far and wide to collect the
freshest ingredients possible.
The Recipe was again cooked and presented to the
villagers, but the meal was even worse than before.
The villagers began to grow restless. “Surely this
is NOT the greatest Recipe ever devised by mankind. The chefs are
charlatans and fools!” they began to grumble.
The chefs heard about their discontent and went to
the village chief for assistance. They were powerful chefs and the chief
was happy to accommodate their demands.
The chief then passed a law which stated that any
person who criticized The Recipe must be put to death. Any person who
refused to eat The Recipe must also be put to death. And any person who
criticized the powerful chefs must also be put to death.
After that the villagers showed up grudgingly to eat
The Recipe every Friday. They fell all over themselves praising the chefs
and their Great Recipe. They all agreed: it was the greatest Recipe ever
devised by mankind. The few dissenters were quickly forced out or put to
The years passed. The villagers still gathered every
week in the town square to eat the Great Recipe and praise it as the best
Recipe in the world. They had
begun to convince themselves that The Recipe, as terrible as it was to
eat, actually WAS the greatest Recipe ever devised by mankind. It made
their children sick, and it made them miserable and cranky and
non-productive in their labors, but they refused to face the bald fact
that The Recipe was the source of all their problems.
Convinced by now that The Recipe was the greatest
thing that had ever happened to their village, the villagers invited
strangers to come from a few neighboring villages to taste it. They
couldn’t wait to share their wonderful discovery with the whole word.
“We must have worldwide peace! And that can only
happen when the whole world is made as happy as we are by eating the Great
Recipe!” shouted the villagers.
Inevitably the strangers were always repulsed by the
food produced from The Recipe. But if they voiced any criticism of The
Recipe, the villagers would become fanatically angry and threaten to kill
the strangers. Sometimes the strangers would try to be polite, and point
out that The Recipe could be made to taste better if this or that slight
change were made, but this also made the villagers very angry.
“No one can change The Recipe!” they shouted.
“It is perfect as it is! Every word has been carefully preserved and
handed down by our ancestors for generations. The preservation of The
Recipe over centuries is a great miracle and proof that it is the greatest
Recipe ever devised by mankind.”
the strangers stopped accepting invitations from the villagers.
This made the villagers even angrier. How dare the
rest of the world say that their Recipe tasted terrible? It was perfect,
and not one instruction or ingredient needed to be changed. In an attempt
to lure the strangers back to their village, the villagers wrote them
soothing letters that promoted The Recipe.
“You didn’t taste the REAL Recipe. The chefs had
an off-night the night you tasted it. The REAL Recipe is wonderful.”
“The oven wasn’t calibrated right.”
“You need to eat The Recipe in just the right
environment to be able to truly appreciate it. Eating it in another
village besides ours just doesn’t provide the right experience.”
“Don’t blame The Recipe – blame the people who
picked the ingredients. They picked bad ingredients.”
And on and on.
The strangers in the neighboring villages mostly
stayed away. They had their own wonderful, rich food that put The Recipe
to shame. They couldn’t understand why the villagers were so fanatically
attached to their terrible food.
The villagers then got so angry, they got up arms and
went to the other villages to “convince” their neighbors that their
Recipe was the best. They threatened, bullied and killed many of their
Tired of being threatened, bullied and killed, the
strangers in some of the neighboring villages agreed to start eating The
Recipe. As more and more people began to eat it, the old laws in their
villages began to change. In those villages, it also came to pass that
criticizing The Recipe or the chefs who invented it
was a capital crime. Those who dissented were forced out or killed. The
wonderful, rich food that these neighboring villagers used to eat was
forgotten. The Recipe made them sick, but they too, refused to admit it.
Soon, these neighboring villages began to invite
THEIR neighbors to eat The Recipe. The usual disgust was voiced and the
usual excuses were proffered. The villagers became angry and threatened
their guests with violence for daring to criticize their great Recipe. And
And so it went, until the whole world was made to eat
The Recipe and admit that it was the most perfect Recipe ever devised by
mankind. But peace did not reign all over the whole world. All of its
people were sickened by The Recipe and became more cranky and less
peaceful as they had to eat it week in and week out. They turned on each
other then, and the whole world was destroyed.