Considering the Recipe Headnote: When Is It Too Much?

The goal of a recipe headnote is essentially to interest, engage and even educate a reader. Why would they want to make this recipe? What's the story behind it? What special skills or tips might they need to know before beginning? But how much information is too much?

Last week Food 52 wrote a nice little piece on How to Write a Headnote and it got me thinking about their purpose and what makes a really good one. Some writers and cooks tell actual stories while others joke and jest or merely get right to the point of the recipe. When I think about the recipe writers I really love, the first that comes to mind is Dorie Greenspan. While her headnotes are longer than most (sometimes a good, solid page), I truly feel like she's standing with me in the kitchen guiding, encouraging, and explaining the "why's" behind the technique. And not in a heavy-handed way. So it doesn't come off as scientific or overly technical at all, but you walk away from the recipe feeling excited by it, confident you can make it, and educated about the process behind it. That's headnote perfection right there.

But I wanted to ask you what you thought about recipe headnotes: Do you like writers to cut to the chase so you can get right to the recipe? Do you like to learn the stories behind the recipes and have some guidance regarding the method? In short, how much information is too much?

Related: How to Write A Recipe Like a Professional

(Image: Emma Christensen)

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