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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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To Taste
Look, recipe, if I knew how much was gonna taste good, I wouldn't need you.
Title text: Look, recipe, if I knew how much was gonna taste good, I wouldn't need you.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: First draft

Adding some ingredient "to taste" is a common instruction found in cooking recipes. The instruction is usually provided for ingredients that alter a simple aspect of the food's flavor, such as saltiness, sweetness, or spiciness, but not the quality of the overall dish. This gives the user of the recipe some control over how exactly they'd like the end result to taste. Individual preferences can vary wildly and it's not possible for a recipe's author to predict how much the reader will want. Specifying any exact amount in these cases will inevitably lead to the food being too bland for some, while being too strong for others.

In this comic, Cueball is shown as possibly having a massive sweet tooth, and adding large crates of sugar to a small pot, because sugar tastes good.[citation needed] However, this would most likely make the recipe very overly sweet. Alternatively, he could be simply bringing in enough sugar so he will not run out of his ingredient before it reaches the correct level of sweetness for his taste.

The title text indicates that bringing in this much sugar is out of ignorance: Cueball (Randall) does not know how much sugar would be appropriate for his taste, and expects the recipe to specify an exact amount. His thinking is that if he did know how much to put in, he would not need the recipe to begin with. This points to the tension between the art of cooking and the science of cooking. Experienced cooks and chefs often don't need to use precise measurements because they adjust things based on their expertise and knowledge of how ingredients work together, whereas a recipe is generally intended to be the precise steps required to make a particular dish. Mixing in imprecise or "use your own judgment" language makes it less of a "recipe" for the dish, and thus less suitable for those looking for the specific instructions to make the dish because they either have no cooking experience, feel they don't have the expertise to make their own decisions, or simply want to follow clearly defined steps without any decision making required.

Transcript

[Cueball is standing near a pot on a stove. He is reading a recipe.]

Recipe: ...and add sugar to taste.

Cueball: ??

[Cueball walks off-panel. He returns with a dolly loaded with 3 crates labeled "SUGAR".]



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