Credit where credit is due.

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I’m insecure about ideas. I blame it on education.

Remember in school how it was drilled into our heads to credit ideas? Footnotes, bibliographies and quotes ensured that original ideas were separated from those you learned. This was not friendly acknowledgement of those who had travelled an intellectual path before you, no, this was punitive. Signed ethics statements made it clear this was about fear and cheating.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in offering credit where it is due, but learning is supposed to be about becoming our own thinkers. We should take joy in watching our ideas grow up, move out of the house and go on to live new, exciting lives of their own.

For a long time I struggled with claiming recipes as my own or writing them down. After all, I thought, I knew the inspirations that had created each of them: a flavor combination from Alice Waters, technique from Christopher Kimball. It’s what I’ve learned from Julia Child, Deborah Madison, Rosso and Lukins, Mollie Katzen and my Mom that inspire my cooking. Every pat of butter I add reminds me of Joanne Creelman’s shirred eggs. Every vinaigrette is a testament to Sean Holland.

Crediting inspiration for me has become less about transparency and more about surrounding myself with the company of dear friends: those I know and those I keep close on the book shelf. Every recipe is a team effort, and the joy comes in watching those techniques and discoveries come together right in front of me, then sending them home to be practiced and enjoyed by someone new.

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