Metaphors Connected with Cooking

30 May 2013

  Image by ReneS


One of my favourite activities is cooking, and after many years of practice, I’ve become fairly good at it. During that time, of course, I’ve made my share of mistakes (how else can you learn, right?). So my cooking ‘career’ has seen dishes both disastrous and successful.


Metaphors connected with cooking likewise have both positive and negative meanings.


Recipe metaphors

Some of the recipes I’ve tried have been, shall we say, less than amazing. Truth be told, some were failures (rubbery chicken) – and some were complete disasters (pies with the consistency of soup).


The expressions ‘recipe for failure’ and ‘recipe for disaster’ metaphorically describe things not related to cooking. For example,

·      Working in a candy shop could be a recipe for failure if you’re trying to lose weight.

·      The plan for that project was a recipe for disaster.


Of course, most of the recipes I use are good (chile con carne) or even excellent (braised lamb shoulder).


You can also use the expression ‘recipe for success’ metaphorically. For example,

·      The recipe for success in your career is being committed to excellence and knowing how your work contributes to the strategic objectives of your company.

·      Having qualified staff led by experienced managers is the recipe for success in this project.


Ingredient metaphors

Of course, the quality of the ingredients you use in what you cook also determines the outcome. If you use foods that aren’t fresh, for example, the dish you prepare will not taste very good, no matter how good the recipe.


Here are examples of how to use the word ‘ingredients’ metaphorically:

·      A key ingredient of an enjoyable holiday is going to a place where you can relax.

·      Trust is one of the main ingredients in a good relationship with your colleagues.


Too many cooks

You’ve probably heard the sayings, ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth’ and ‘There are too many cooks in the kitchen’.


Imagine a chef preparing a pot of soup. He adds all the necessary ingredients, leaves it to simmer on the stove, and then starts working on something else.


While he’s away, someone comes into the kitchen, tastes the soup and says, ‘I think it needs more salt’, and he adds more salt. Then someone else comes in, tastes the soup and says, ‘This needs pepper flakes and a bit of sugar’, so she adds those ingredients. A third person comes in, tastes the soup, and says, ‘This stuff really needs a little apple and maybe some celery’, and he adds those ingredients.


The chef comes back to check the soup. He tastes it and and says, ‘Yuck! This tastes awful!’ He then tosses it out and says, ‘There are too many cooks in this kitchen. The three of you get out of here and leave me alone!’


In this case, having too many cooks was literally a recipe for disaster.


Metaphorically, these two sayings describe the result of having too many bosses (in any situation). If too many people try to take charge, the outcome will not be as good as if there was only one boss.

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