Food is more than food in many families. It creates memories, starts up conversations, and preparing it is a healthy bonding experience.
And family recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation? Those are sacred.
But because this isn’t true for every single family out there, some people don’t understand what the big deal is, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor stolenrecipe_throw was in the latter group of people, and when she came across a recipe she liked, she thought nothing of replicating the dish.
But when she was called out by her friend and friend’s family, the Original Poster (OP) wondered what she had done that was so wrong.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for ‘stealing’ my friend’s family recipe?”
The OP noticed her friend was overwhelmed with hosting.
“I (27 female) have a friend, Sam (34 female). She sometimes hosts ‘dinner parties’ that are really just our friend group going over to her place to eat.”
“Sam started doing this around Thanksgiving last year, and at the beginning, she was a tad unorganized. This led to her being frazzled and rushed and generally not fun to be around for like half the night.”
The OP stepped up and offered to help Sam.
“Now, I like to cook, so after the first couple get-togethers, I offered to help Sam in the kitchen to get things ready.”
“She accepted, and things started to go smoother. She wouldn’t let me do anything major because she still wanted it to be ‘her’ party.”
“When I would come over a bit early, it was usually to help with things like processing ingredients, stirring, and cleaning. Smaller stuff that let Sam free up her hands.”
“After she got a better handle on how to prepare for her parties, she didn’t need my help anymore and told me I could stop. She’s been doing everything alone since.”
The OP really enjoyed one of the dishes Sam had prepared.
“One time when I was helping, Sam decided to make her family’s secret recipe. It’s a chicken casserole.”
“She said that she only made it once or twice a year, always around the holidays, because it was special.”
“I thought it was good and wanted to try making it myself. Because I was helping Sam out with the side dishes when she made it and because I have a really good memory, it was pretty easy for me to reconstruct the recipe.”
“I made it for myself a few times, and after tweaking it a bit, I was satisfied that I’d gotten it right.”
“I had my sister (33 female) and her family over for dinner a couple of weeks ago and decided to make the chicken casserole.”
“Everyone loved it, and my sister asked me about the recipe. I told her where I learned it and gave her the recipe.”
Sam confronted the OP about the recipe.
“Word somehow worked its way back to Sam and she was p**sed.”
“She called me, yelling about how I’d ‘stolen’ her family’s secret recipe.”
“I told her it’s just chicken casserole and not worth screaming at me for.”
“She just called me a word that rhymes with bundt and then disinvited me from all future dinner parties.”
There were mixed feelings among the friend group.
“Obviously, the rest of our friends found out and they’re split.”
“Some agree with me and say it’s just a recipe for the chicken casserole and not worth being upset about.”
“It’s not like Sam runs a restaurant or patented the recipe, and now after stealing it I’m using it to make money or directly compete with her for business.”
“I just like it, so I make it for myself. It’s nobody’s business but my own.”
“The rest of our friends say I’m an a**hole because the recipe wasn’t mine and that it was special to Sam.”
“They say I shouldn’t have ‘learned’ it without permission and I should stop making it now.”
“I told them that was stupid and that I wasn’t doing that, and now they’re mad at me too.”
“Am I really the a**hole here? It’s just a stupid recipe.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some didn’t appreciate the OP’s attitude about the “stupid recipe.”
“That’s not how recipes work. If you see something and make it from scratch, eyeballing it, you’ve just adapted it.”
“This is how ‘family recipes’ work. You don’t think your great-grandma actually wrote recipes, do you? Most of them didn’t.”
“Take depression cakes for example. They’re all pretty much the same ratios but maybe different amounts and what makes them special is maybe someone’s grandma added lemon zest or something.” – MissFrothingslosh
“I mean when a friend says it’s a special family recipe that they only make for special occasions, it is kind of going behind their back to not even say you’re going to be using it.”
“OP states she told her sister that she got the recipe from her friend. Friend gets to just hear about it from someone else that OP has her recipe apparently.”
“I would be kind of creeped out if one of my friends just had one of my family recipes and didn’t bother even talking to me about it. It just doesn’t seem like something someone who likes or cares about me would do.” – ocean_torrent
“I don’t like that OP didn’t ask first. Most people who like a dish will ask for the recipe.”
“However, it seems pretty obvious that OP knew that Sam wouldn’t want to give out the recipe and that it was special to Sam.”
“I call bulls**t that OP miraculously assimilated the recipe. OP was supposed to focus on helping with side dishes while Sam was making the chicken casserole.”
“I don’t know about you, but when I’m cooking, I’m focused on the dish I’m working on – I would only be able to recreate a recipe someone else was making unless I was paying very close attention with the intent of recreating that recipe.”
“Instead, OP goes home and recreates the recipe.”
“And now Sam’s recipe is out and being shared – not by Sam but by OP.”
“It’s up to OP what she does. But calling it ‘just a stupid recipe’ while simultaneously demonstrating that apparently, this is a sword OP is willing to fall on.”
“If it was just a stupid recipe – why not leave it at that?”
“OP’s putting the ‘stupid recipe’ ahead of her personal relationships. Certainly her call, but she needs to be prepared for the fallout over a ‘stupid recipe.'”
“Not sure how to call this. I’m leaning YTA towards OP.”
“Sam was kind enough to host the friends’ group and has done this repeatedly.”
“OP calls it a stupid recipe but seems willing to blow up the friend group over it and has been disinvited to any more get-togethers.”
“Must be a pretty d**n good casserole after all.” – Advanced-Extent-420
Others thought Sam should have been more careful with her family’s recipe.
“This ‘secret recipe’ is probably a Betty Crocker recipe. It’s not some ancient recipe passed down verbally, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn it contained canned ingredients.”
“Besides, if you don’t want anyone to know your secret recipe, don’t let them help you make it. I have a secret recipe, and if one of my friends figured it out, more power to them.” – phibbsy47
“If this is ‘chicken casserole’ from the south of the US, then they’re all basically the same. I don’t understand how this one version of the casserole could be SO distinct that it’s obvious OP made the friend’s casserole, as opposed to just following any chicken casserole recipe.”
“Like, how would the friend even be able to tell that this was definitely an imitation of hers? I must be missing something. And even though it is an imitation of the friend’s, I’m sure a million families make it basically exactly the same way.” – roadsidechicory
“I don’t think there’s anything strange about noticing what a person next to you in the kitchen is doing, enjoying the dish that evening, then going home and thinking, ‘I can try my hand at that!'”
“It’s not really “going behind someone’s back.” That’s implying it’s somehow a betrayal to notice a friend putting a splash of apple cider vinegar in their mashed potatoes, loving the taste of it, then trying it out for yourself next time you make them at home.” – whenthesunrise
“If you had a secret recipe that you were very emotionally attached to, why would you let someone help you make it?”
“Especially without specifying that you’d be upset if they attempted to recreate it? It’s not like OP wrote it down and shared it on the internet, they ate it in their own home.”
“I have a very old secret recipe for salsa from my dad’s best friend’s mother who grew up in Mexico in the early 1900s, and I just make it before everyone shows up. I think his mother would be proud that her recipe is still being passed down. If my friends figure out the secret ingredient, so be it, it’s not a nuclear launch code.” – phibbsy47
Some questioned how “secret” the secret recipe actually was.
“I thought my grandmother was an amazing cook. I found an old Campbell’s Soup cookbook at a thrift store, and I swear every single ‘secret’ family recipe was in that book, just tweaked a little bit.” – Klutzy_Prior
“‘Hey, how do you make your oatmeal cookies so crunchy? Is it like a family recipe?’ my middle school classmates asked me upon discovering my cookies to be crunchier.”
“‘Nah, I just melt the butter because I’m lazy rather than use it whole like the recipe says.'”
“They were disappointed.” – FictionWeavile
“My ex-husband makes amazing cheesecakes. To die for, delicious, from scratch cheesecakes. He got the recipe from his best friend’s mom.”
“One day, BF’s mom was in town and we stopped over to visit. I thanked her for giving my ex the recipe because it was the best cheesecake.”
“She looked at me funny for a minute then said, ‘I just got the recipe from the side of the Philadelphia Cream Cheese box.’ We had a good laugh.” – beerwookie3
“No lie, I asked my dad for the recipe for his excellent chocolate chip cookies that were the best when I was a kid, and he said, ‘Step 1, buy a bag of chocolate chips. Step 2, follow what it says on the bag.'” – n0radrenaline
While the OP was convinced that this was no big deal, she did note that her friends were divided on what had happened, and the subReddit turned out to feel the same way.
Some agreed with the OP that it was a casserole recipe, most of which are pretty easy to duplicate, even if there was some special “family” ingredient included.
But because the OP did not ask for permission, even knowing how proud Sam was of it, and because she started handing it out to other people, others ruled that OP had disrespected her friend and stepped over a serious line.
After all, this was a serious enough mistake for Sam that she disinvited the OP from all future events. That is saying something.