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R1 Potluck

Recipe-schema-sharing session and workshop.

Published onDec 04, 2020
R1 Potluck

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Potluck is a periodic schema-generation and sharing workshop themed around recipes and food data.

First session: Friday, 12/4 1200 ET
In this session, we want to explore a range of schemas to address food questions big and small.

Ingredients (or, what to bring)

  1. a link to a recipe | any recipe datasets you find curious, in the positive or negative sense: we can try and match them to schemas.

  2. a sketch of an imagined question. | recipe-question to answer and/or a schema that you use in working with food data. ‘Recipe’ here is interpreted broadly to include food- and food-culture related questions, schemas can be general or specific.

Potluck contributions


  • Meatloaf

    • ratio of (vegetables, meat), topping, [loaf form factor]

      • Property: description of final phenotype (form factor)?

        • "in a ____ (6” loaf pan)” —> process defines a tool that defines this

      • Process: baking (variation)

      • Property: abstract high-level food (‘meat product’)

    • mostly meat

    • bread + vegetables

    • … with egg?

  • Stuffing


  • Is your egg American? (different storage tactics)

  • Soft-boiled egg

    • Soft process: (container, water, heat)

    • Process: (timing) [assumptions about egg size]

  • Egg “over easy” (process)


Dessert salads

  • Ambrosia salad

    • (gelatin jello, * [sweet sauce]) (process: various mixing methods)

  • oeuf(s) en gelee -> not a dessert

    • (meat-stock gelee, egg, dill) (process: construction, presentation)


  • Eggplant soup?

    • Processes: (various preparation methods)

    • ingredient: (substitutions)

    •  storage tips: (store,reheat, freeze)

    •  toppings: (salad,bread, sandwich) 


  • Mayonnaise

    • a. (eggs, oil)

    • b. (eggs, oil, mayonnaise) (specific processing)

  • Ketchup

    • consistency, viscosity

    • gets into chemistry — specifics of reagents


(Todo: attach potential schemas + queries that could resolve each)

  • How many ways can I cook a soft-boiled egg?

there will never be a right way to poach an egg, there’s only a more or less informed way of poaching an egg — Wylie Dufresne

  • Is any cheese other than Gruyère appropriate for this classic Julia Child recipe?

    • Manchego? -> not melty! (having an idea of the processes / properties / interactions an ingredient can have)

  • Can you capture a process step as a criterion that’s reached, rather than a text string? (see Adrienne Lehrer’s definition of browning)

  • Can you write a compiler that tells you if your recipe will fail?

  • How do you make a lemon meringue pie?

  • Process detail: how do you make ugali? (and recovery from failure)
    —> check in w/ JoTrial&Error

  • (but probably not meatloaf)


  • Recipes at times of day -> nigerian breakfast recipes

  • Questions used to evaluate a new recipe

  • recipe with a core idea, and a twist

  • Is this ingredient off?

  • Is this ingredient sustainable? (total carbon footprint)

    • related: local seasonality, more sustainable places to source x, y

  • How would I make this *recipe with an eggplant / with butter

  • Where is the boundary b/t cooking and chemistry? (examples from the fringe)

    • Moving recipes in one direction or the other

  • What condiments [spices] go well with this?

  • What other dishes would balance this (in a meal)?

  • recommendations + ratings

    • specialized vocab for distinguishing reviews of one food type

    • glossary

    Tuesday, a) a ragout of lungs spiced with blond spices. Recipe - Start at 1/2 past 11 - boil a little water with some salt, add whole lungs, 12 o’clock remove the lungs and slice finely on the board, 5 past 12 return the lungs to the pot. Ingredients added immediately: a chopped onion, some garlic, a strip of lemon peel, some horseradish, two carrots, butter and pepper. Ingredients at 1/4 to 1: Flour dissolved in cold water, some vinegar, a lot of chopped parsley, a little nutmeg. Serve at 1 o’clock. b) macaroni c) salad — Paul Klee

We can also use category theory to understand substitutions as operads:


Summary of schema-types

questions you can ask about cooking, pertaining to different entities/concepts

  • ingredients -> is it off? substitutions?

  • taste/texture -> subjective qualities of a dish

  • process -> how do I, what steps do I take to make

  • equipment -> how to use, do I need a this for

  • custom/timing -> meta-processes surrounding a dish, how should it be served, times of day, related festivals

  • dish -> similarity with other dishes, regional variations

  • recipe -> what ingredients do i need, what processes to perform, ingredient ratios, recovery


can I apply [process] to [ingredient]

can i substitute [ingredient] in [recipe]

is [ingredient] [process]


relationship between process, ingredients, recipe and dish: a recipe is an amalgam of processes and ingredients. The concept of dish feels more expansive than recipe, coming with associations that exist outside of instruction e.g. custom, timing. Maybe a dish is a recipe in context? Though a lot of good recipes are also contextualised. Unlike a recipe, a dish does not come with instructions, just vibes.

Thinking about dishes as points on a continuum of flavour + culture and recipes as lines of practice that end in dishes (+ stop off at dishes along the way).

The interaction with diet + different ingredients is also not a simple boolean — for example, kosher diets restrict not just particular ingredients, but also modes of preparation, combinations of ingredients (e.g. no meat and dairy at the same time), and times when certain foods are eaten or not.

Different schemas for different ideas of what a recipe is:

  • A recipe is a framework for combining ingredients and processes, with outcomes shaped by food chemistry

    • process, property, ingredient

  • A recipe is a set of instructions that you need to use to prepare a dish. By varying processes and ingredients you get a different dish.

    • dish,

  • A recipe is a creative work

    • source

  • A recipe is a cultural artifact shaped by tradition

    • context, source, diet

some of these are transformations that can be mapped onto each other, some of these are different schemas altogether.

Example Schemas

(made using r1):

Recipe schemas (+ other snacks) from other sources:

Further reading:

What’s in an egg, and where is it in FoodON?

The Culinary Triangle, Lévi Strauss

Semantic Cuisine, Adrienne Lehrer

Recursive Recipes



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