L’Shana Tova, but you can’t have the recipe

David Friedlander

“No, I’m sorry, I can’t tell you what’s in this salad dressing. It’s my husband’s great grandmother’s recipe.”

This is a direct quote…almost…of what I heard at my dining room table during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, last week. A friend of my family literally would not divulge the ever-so sacred craft of SALAD DRESSING.

This incredibly delicate blend of tarragon vinegar, orange juice, and spices (I’m assuming from my impressively sensitive palate), was far too much to share to another friend, but not so much as to avoid serving it.

This whole idea of secret recipes is bizarre to me. I come from a family where food has been at the forefront of my cultural and societal education since I can remember. And as a Jew, I have been taught to share since I was a little boy. It even alludes to such practice in the Talmud, which is essentially the Jewish text of social law. Granted, it also alludes to the practice that if one breaks a neighbor’s record player then he owes them an unblemished cow, but that’s not the point.

My point is that food is about bringing people together. Good food, especially. And I realize that sounds cliché, but it is absolutely true from my perspective. When people get married, we eat. When someone dies, we eat. And in the spirit of an absurd amount of Jewish holidays, “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat.” We should SHARE these recipes because if we are truly family, then these recipes are the work of our ancestors that should be enjoyed by more than just the people sitting around my dining room table. We cannot allow that time together to be hindered by veiled recipes of salad dressing.

When it comes down to it, people love to be needed. And some people truly need to be needed because it gives them a sense of importance, which then hopefully translates to some mode of self-confidence. I respect the needs of people as much as I can, but if you think that your sweet concoction is the reason you were invited to dinner, you would be mistaken. And if your need to be needed is fueled by these classified condiments, I think you have some bigger problems to deal with.