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Why sharing secret recipes is about more than making food

How heritage, identity, and tradition are an inextricable part of recipes, whether the cook knows it or not

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With AAA Insurance as our partner, Vox Creative tackles the topic of trust to better understand where it comes from, and how it shapes our world. Watch, listen, and read more on Why We Trust.

When a person shares a recipe – whether an internet find or a family heirloom – they are not just sharing a list of ingredients and instructions. Recipes come with stories, whether the receiver knows it or not. In essence, that is what recipes are: A story of how something is created, whether it be once, twice, or a thousand times before.

Written recipes date back to cuneiform tablets, millennia ago. Recipes are one of the oldest, most personal pieces of human intellectual property. Why personal? Perhaps because memory and food are inextricable. A plethora of research from psychologists studying everything from sense memory to nostalgia backs this up. A meal is nurturing at the most elemental level. Sharing a recipe can be like sharing an intimate memory, one that transcends the table. This is one reason why so many cookbooks tie a name to a recipe, or some kind of joke or anecdote; these connections are not just page fillers, but the meeting of gastronomy, narrative, and memory.

Yet many cookbooks are also filled with disclaimers about certain family secrets that will never see the light of day, safeguards erected around the holy grail of inherited gastronomy. It can be argued that there are few kernels of knowledge protected so aggressively as secret recipes. Some family recipes are taken to the grave. So while recipe sharing speaks to the great human warmth that can be realized at a dinner table, recipe guarding speaks to a fundamental lack of trust. Fortunately, trust is something that can be forged over a shared plate of food.

When it comes to earning trust outside of a culinary tradition, take AAA Insurance. AAA Insurance has built a heritage of trusted service across the nation, and its teams can be counted on to help you when you need them most.

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