For many people, cooking is a comforting form of therapy, which always makes them feel calm and relieved of stress.
Others, however, find cooking is more of an obligation, and something they only do when they absolutely have to.
Then too, some people love to experiment with cooking, using recipes as more of a guideline, and then adjusting, eliminating and adding certain ingredients as they go on.
Something many people wouldn’t even think about trying, and thus strictly follow the recipe down to the very last teaspoon.
Redditor throwaway1243127 loved to cook, but very much fell into the latter category, believing that recipes were written for a reason, and thus shouldn’t be ignored.
This resulted in the original poster (OP) becoming increasingly frustrated when his girlfriend began taking more and more liberties with cooking.
Eventually, the OP couldn’t keep his frustrations hidden, and his girlfriend was not at all pleased after being confronted.
Wondering if he had, in fact, done anything wrong, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where he asked fellow Redditors:
“AITA for saying my girlfriend thinks she knows better than culinary professionals and expressing my disapproval?”
The OP explained how he grew increasingly frustrated by his girlfriend constantly straying from various recipes, eventually leading to his calling her out on it.
“I (26 M[ale]) live with my girlfriend (27 F[emale]) of four years, and we try to split all grocery shopping and cooking duties equally.”
“We both like cooking well enough and pay for subscriptions to several recipe websites (Epicurious, NY times) and consider it an investment because sometimes there’s really creative stuff there.”
“Especially since we’ve had to cut back on food spending recently and eating out often isn’t viable, it’s nice to have some decent options if we’re feeling in the mood for something better than usual.”
“I make it sound like we’re snobs but we eat box macaroni like once a week.”
“Because we work different hours, even though we’re both WFH we almost never cook together, so I didn’t find out until recently that she makes tweaks to basically every recipe she cooks.”
“I had a suspicion for a while that she did this because I would use the same recipe to make something she did previously, and it would turn out noticeably different, but I brushed it off as her having more experience than me.”
“But last week I had vet’s day off on a day she always had off, and we decided to cook together because the chance to do it doesn’t come up often.”
“I like to have the recipe on my tablet, and while I was prepping stuff I kept noticing how she’d do things out of order or make substitutions for no reason and barely even glanced at the recipe.”
“It got to the point I was concerned she was going off the rails, so I would try to gently point out when she’d do things like put in red pepper when the recipe doesn’t call for it or twice the salt.”
“She dismissed it saying that we both prefer spicier food or that the recipe didn’t call for enough salt to make it taste good because they were trying to make it look healthier for the nutrition section.”
“It’s not like I think her food tastes bad/too salty but i genuinely don’t understand what the point of the recipe is or paying for the subs is if she’s going to just make stuff up, and there’s always a chance she’s going to ruin it and waste food if she changes something.”
“I got annoyed and said that the recipe was written with what it has for a reason, and she said she knows what we like.”
“Like I don’t?”
“So I said she didn’t know better than the professional chefs who make the recipes we use, & neither do I obviously.”
“She got really offended and said I always ‘did this’ and when I asked what ‘this’ was she said I also got mad at her once because she’d make all the bits left over after cooking into weird Frankenstein meals.”
“I barely remembered this until she brought up that time she made parm grilled cheese and I wouldn’t even eat it.”
“She mixed tomato paste, parm, & a bit of mayo to make a cheese filling because it was all we had.”
“Yeah I wouldn’t touch that with a ten foot pole even though she claimed it tasted good.”
“She called me ‘stiff’ and closed minded so I said I didn’t get why she couldn’t follow directions, even kids can follow a recipe, and it’s been almost a week and we’re both still sore about it.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:
NTA: Not the A**hole
YTA: You’re the A**hole
ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
NAH: No A**holes Here
The OP found little to no support from the Reddit community, who felt he was very clearly the a**hole for complaining about his girlfriend’s cooking techniques.
Everyone agreed that the OP’s behavior was uncalled for, not to mention a complete waste of time, with many pointing out how recipes are meant to be a guidance, and not a binding agreement.
“You know a recipe is not a contract right?”
“This is how most people cook.”
“The recipe is a guideline and you adjust for your tastes.”
“Do you not like her food?”
“Does it taste bad?”
“Are you just finding something to fight about?”
“uh huh.”- joeswastedtime
“I cook professionally and ‘get creative’ with recipes DAILY.”
“What is the problem you’re actually having?”
“The food tastes good, food isn’t going to waste, and she’s making it how y’all like it.”
“Where is this attitude coming from?”
“This is actually a real & common thing.”
“Recipes can be idealistic or have ulterior agendas, whereas restaurant chefs dgaf about anything but making their food taste good… so they often add a ton more salt or fat than you would ever find on a recipe.”
“Sounds to me like she is more passionate about the ‘art of cooking’ while you are more into the finished product & trying new things.”– qp0n
“Let your gf have fun while cooking.”
“You don’t have to stick 100% to the recipe. you sound very pedantic.”
“Its not that she cant follow directions, its more that she doesn’t want to and thats perfectly fine!”
“If i were you i would apologize to her asap. that was really uncalled for.”- AdmirableAvocado
“So the food is as good, if not better?”
“And you’re annoyed because you just want the list to be followed.”
“Because lists are for following.”
“This is like diagnosably weird.”- thither_and_yon
“YTA and I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but do you feel compelled to control other aspects of your life this tightly?”
“I change recipes all the time to the point that by the time I’ve made them a few times they are completely different and now mine, because I’ve tailored them exactly to the way my husband and I enjoy our food.”
“Tons of extra garlic, more spice, etc.”
“Sounds like she’s a good cook, let her do her thing.”- AgreeableChemistry79
“The sign of a good cook is someone who can use a recipe as a guideline, tweak it based on tastes, ingredient availability, their inclination, and still have it turn out well.”
“Why the hell would you feel any sort of way about this?”
“It’s definitely not worth your ‘concern’.”
“Desire to exert control.”- MyShoulderHatesMe
“I don’t understand why you have a problem with how she cooks unless it’s just that she’s doing something you can’t.”- Logical_Ad_1383
“Are you relatively new to cooking?”
“I don’t follow recipes.”
“Sometimes I’ll use one for a general guideline, but that’s about it.”
“I’ve also been cooking elaborate meals for a couple decades.”
“BF is a stickler for following recipes.”
“He is newer to cooking from scratch.”
“He doesn’t have the knowledge, experience or desire to stray.”
“Both are valid ways to cook.”
“It’s not as if her meals are turning out inedible.”- Broken-Butterfly-313
“YTA an insufferable one at that.”
“You like the food she cooks, you eat the food she cooks.”
“You just have a weird fixation on her deviating from a recipe and kicked up a fuss over nothing.”-CrystalQueen3000
“So she changes recipes to reflect what she knows you both like, which is the sign of actual culinary insight and she is good at using leftovers to create meals she enjoys and you object to this?”- madelinegumbo
It’s a bit surprising that the OP didn’t stop to think about the fact that even though certain recipes tasted differently when his girlfriend cooked them, they still seemed to taste every bit as good.
If not better.
So, maybe his girlfriend was onto something with the liberties she chose to take with those recipes?
Making one wonder if his frustrations might be owing to something completely unrelated to cooking?
Who knows, but maybe the two of them should have a conversation to figure it out.