Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Whatever happened to reading/writing comprehension?

Everywhere I go it seems I find examples of the decline in reading/writing comprehension. Just today I was looking up a marinade recipe for chicken fajitas. I found one that looked interesting so I read the reviews.

I like to use sites like www.allrecipes.com because the reviews allow me to see if the recipe was well received, if it could use some tweaking or if I should just skip it altogether. Recipes are such subjective creatures, always subject to substitutions or additions. It's nice to see what others think.

The reviews for this particular recipe suffered from the same comprehension issues that so many recipe reviews seem to have. The title of the recipe was Chicken Fajita Marinade.  Three of the first reviewers mentioned that they think the marinade would have been better on chicken. They commented that it just didn't seem to suit the steak they were using. How could it possibly be the recipes fault that the reader so clearly missed the point? It is called Chicken Fajita Marinade because it is supposed to be used on chicken. The fact that the reviewer chose to use it on steak is not the fault of the recipe. By that same logic if I put diesel gas in my car because I didn't read the pump labels and my car broke down I should blame the gas station.

The next two reviewers gave the recipe five stars and proclaimed how much they loved it. Then they proceeded to list the fifteen changes they made to the measurements and ingredients. How could you possibly say you loved a recipe and in the next breath state that you changed it so significantly that it no longer resembles itself?  You don't love the recipe, you love your recipe. If the ingredients are cumin, beer, lime juice, olive oil and cilantro and you use lemon juice, vinegar, cumin, oregano and garlic then you didn't use their recipe. I get that people want to personalize things, I've even done it myself. But I wouldn't post that I loved a recipe if I made extensive changes to it. Obviously, if I really loved the recipe I would have left it as is.

Maybe it's just me, but I see examples of this everywhere. I don't know if we're just paying that much less attention to what we read or if it's just not sinking in. Or maybe we just don't care that much anymore. Perhaps it doesn't matter that much to us that we don't understand what we read or are unable to write a recipe review that makes sense.  It's something to think about.

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