Advance copies just arrived at Grub Street HQ of Eat Tweet, a Twitter-inspired cookbook by famous recipe twitterer Maureen Evans. The book’s very existence raises all sorts of lit-critty issues about context and form — tweeted recipes are clever because they are technical instructions shrunk down to a restrictive form! But what does it mean when you remove content from its technologically-enforced constraints while retaining the formal restrictions? Just how successful are these as exercises in condensation if they require a dedicated glossary in order to unpack them to sensibility? — but getting past that, we’re much more interested in whether the darn thing works.
Fortunately for compare-and-contrast purposes, Evans’s recipe for beet rosti, 133 characters, is based on one by Mark Bittman that appeared online in the New York Times in May of 2008 that ran to 1261:
@Bittman’s Beet RostiGrate2lb beets; mix+t salt&rosemary;/⅓c flr. Brown3T buttr; +beets. Form round, brwn. Slide to plate; flip, brown 2nd side.
So what’s lost when the content is almost decimated? To a home cook who’s made rosti before, Evans’s condensation is pretty legible. But even if you’re an old pro, you miss out on some of Bittman’s oh-so-helpful advice: wear an apron while you’re grating the beets; shake the pan occasionally to keep the pancake from sticking — and for heaven’s sake, Evans entirely omits Bittman’s suggested garnish of minced parsley. Scandalous! We’ll stick with her comparatively foolproof take on Fillets with Hollandaise: “Srv PanFriedFish with HollandaiseSauce.” Can’t really screw that one up.