Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What's With the "With"?

My latest issue of Real Simple came last week. I love Real Simple for its beautiful photography, economical fashion advice, and its well-written stories.

I’ve even gotten a few good recipes.

So I was excited when this month’s issue promised “A Month of Easy Dinners.” Now that’s something I can really use. A month of easy dinners is right in my bailiwick.

But when I turned to the article, honestly, nothing sounded good to me. And then I noticed something—all of the recipes are written like “This with That.”

I’ve been noticing this trend for a while now, and I’d just like to ask the recipe writers out there—what’s with the “with”? I mean really. Do we have to stretch out the name of a recipe to infinity and beyond?

Let’s just use this month’s Real Simple article as an example of my little pet peeve.

The first recipe was called “Roasted Pork with Brussels Sprouts and Apricots.” There’s just so much wrong with this that I don’t know where to start. With Brussels sprouts? Seriously? *shudder* Who puts Brussels sprouts with anything at all?

And not only that, there’s a bonus—“and Apricots.” Maybe they should add some more ingredients to the title like “and salt . . . and pepper”? I mean, while they’re at it, why don’t they just include ALL of the ingredients in the title of the recipe? That way you could just read the title to find out if there is anything in the recipe that you’re deathly allergic to.

O.K. I flip the page and every single recipe is a “with” recipe. Five of them, lined up across the page.

“Seared Lamb Chops with Minted Spaghetti Squash”

“Shrimp Pot Pie with Fennel”

“Ravioli with Apples and Walnuts” (bonus!)

“Salmon with Lemon-Cilantro Vinaigrette”

“Chicken with Spinach and Mushrooms”

I think “with” is code for something-in-this-recipe-is-going-to-be-gross-but-we’re-making-it-sound-like-it’s-going-to-be-good. Like putting “with” in the title of the recipe is going to make it all fancy-schmancy.

Chicken’s just chicken, right? No matter how you grill it, slice it, or sauce it, it’s just chicken. But if you wrote a recipe that just said “Chicken” nobody would give it a second glance. Which is why those sneaky recipe writers have to add “with” something—to make plain old chicken sound more palatable. Oh, they are a sly bunch.

You know, I think I’m going to start doing this from now on. I’m going to tell my kids, “Tonight we’re having Spaghetti with Sauce.” I know they’ll be so impressed.

Or when I make lemonade it’s no longer going to be just lemonade. I’m going to call it “Water with Lemon and Sugar.”

And starting tomorrow in their lunches I’m going to give them “Peanut Butter with Jelly and Bread.” I just know this one is going to catch on. Big time.

Maybe the Today Show would even invite me to come do a segment demonstrating how to make this latest culinary trend.

I’m available.

Just as soon as I finish my Cereal with Milk.


  1. I knew something bothered me about the recent Real Simple I know what it is. Once again, loved your take on the issue!

  2. Funny blog but true. I've noticed this in other magazines that print recipes. Although, I will take the brussel sprouts and you can eat the goat cheese. Okay?

  3. Teehe. You're hilarious. I just got that issue in the mail. I was looking forward to the recipes. Now? Notsomuch. So thanks for that.

    Although I do take umbrage with your obvious disdain for the brussels sprout. You have not tried them roasted, now, have you? I'm just sayin'.

  4. Funny and fun post. Blog post with humor should have been the title. LOL