Where did I hear this adage about cooking?
August 17, 2020 9:22 AM   Subscribe

Sometime, probably in the early eighties, this piece of advice was delivered to me. I expect it might have been related to under-seasoned food in the sixties and maybe some locally bland food traditions. It went like this:

When following any recipe, do this:

-Triple the onions
-Double garlic and all herbs and spices

Just do it, don't think about it.

I've been trying for years to figure out who bestowed this knowledge on me. Was it the Frugal Gourmet? Martha Stewart? My parents (they say no)?

I don't follow it outright but I would say I definitely tend more toward following it than not following it, and it's been stuck in my head, orphaned, for years.
posted by A Terrible Llama to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Did you perchance meet my aunties or my mother in the early eighties? :D

To be quite serious, I'm not even from USA originally, and there is nothing under-seasoned about the food of my people (Indian) and yet this is something I've heard all my life from literally everyone (well not doubling the *spices* but yeah, everything else!). I doubt that whoever you heard it from was the originator of the adage. It's folk wisdom.
posted by MiraK at 10:03 AM on August 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

do you have an italian grandparent? I do, and I've definitely heard this about "english recipes." Haha
posted by euphoria066 at 10:20 AM on August 17, 2020

I thought this was just what everyone did.
posted by bile and syntax at 2:36 PM on August 17, 2020

This is blowing my mind because I never do this and have never been told this. However, I have been told my tastes and cooking are bland and maybe this is part of why!
posted by forza at 3:35 PM on August 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

The equivalent rule I've heard for sweet baking is double the salt and double the vanilla, fwiw. I think it's in the Huckleberry Bakery cookbook but I'm sure she didn't originate it.
posted by potrzebie at 5:56 PM on August 17, 2020

In addition to the Italian Americans I know, this was instilled in me by my Jewish parents/grandparents. So maybe just typical advice from non “native” Americans/lovers of bland food?

(Only trick here is to assume that handwritten recipes passed down through the ages ALREADY doubled everything; learned this the hard way attempting to replicate my mother in law’s vodka sauce which ended up tasting like basil and garlic and nothing else!)
posted by nancynickerson at 5:57 PM on August 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

80s Indian cookbooks in the UK had exactly this problem with the spices - double up and you'd be in the ballpark of a curry house, otherwise it was warm and wet and not much else. My rule for the one I had was 'double the spices and halve the garlic', and I got that advice from a friend who used the same recipes (I probably wouldn't halve the garlic at this point, admittedly, but in the 90s two cloves per portion was pushing it).

I've never heard a common saying to this effect, though.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 7:08 PM on August 17, 2020

I learned to cook by watching the Frugal Gourmet and reading his cookbooks. This is totally unfamiliar to me.

I do recall, “Frugal doesn’t mean cheap; it just means you don’t waste anything!”
posted by jeoc at 10:35 PM on August 17, 2020

How cool that it's a universal thing!

I realize I misremembered: it was triple the onions *and* garlic, and double everything else.

If anything I'm even more impressed by it as a rule of thumb.

My demographics fwiw: working class USA suburbs growing up in 70's/80's, Irish/Italian/German/buncha other stuff background. My parents were and are very good cooks, though. Complex relationship aside, they're probably the origins of why I love food.

Thanks all.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:06 AM on August 18, 2020

This is definitely a thing. Most mass-market food publications go for the lowest common denominator for spicing, even now.
We get my mother’s Canadian Living issues once she’s done with them, and there’re loads of good recipe ideas in there, as long as you remember to spice and salt the food like someone is actually going to eat it.
posted by Kreiger at 11:04 AM on August 18, 2020

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