Secret Sharing

“My secret recipe for…”. These magic words, heard often at parties, cookouts and around the office don't really mean what they're supposed to mean. While they might be meant as an inciter of hype, but more often as an inciter of desire. When people hear “secret recipe,” in my experiences, that translates in their brains to “get me that recipe!” And of course, when someone says that they “need your secret recipe,” that translates into your brain as, “don't give up that recipe!”

Take Julia's famous, secret recipe for chocolate chip cookies. The recipe is not that complicated or different. She took a standard recipe and tweaked a couple of things. They do turn out amazing every time, and I've never met someone who didn't completely corroborate the hype surrounding these secret cookies. So calling them “secret” is less a brag, less a guarantee that you better like these – it's definitely more of a taunt. A “you're not getting this, so enjoy” taunt. Now I'm not saying Julia is per se this way with her recipe; I actually think she would give it to just about anyone if they asked her. But she never has.

And then I realized that maybe the reason that secrets are secrets is fear. Fear that others will mess it up. As the only other person privy to her recipe, I've substituted as head chef and baked her recipe several times before. I follow everything perfectly and yet they never come out quite perfect. Never quite like hers. And then I realize that part of a secret is not just the list of ingredients and instructions, it's the experience, the confidence and the ownership that makes someone's special recipes really turn out special. Maybe Julia, or any secret recipe bearer knows deep inside that the secret to her secret is something only she can replicate and something that even she can't explain.

It's like my signature panzanella. And your aunt's famous spaghetti sauce. You friend's amazing guacamole. And Julia's best chocolate chip cookies in the world. You might as well just enjoy them, because you probably won't get that recipe, and if you do, you might badly mess it up and ultimately ruin the pristine image of secret perfection. So bottom line is: keep your secrets close to your heart and everyone else's secrets just close to your stomach.

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