An Ignoramus’ Guide on How to Name Your Recipes

Beef Stew

If only I can prepare food that can look this good

I’ve been cooking from towards the end of my high school life till now — a good XX years later.  I got most of my practical experience while I was in college and balanced out my limited skills when I started cooking for my family.  I mainly cook not only to fill the tummy but also to relax myself.  Funny thing, though, I hardly ever consulted recipe books or cookbooks.  All I know is, whenever my family and I ate at a restaurant, we analyzed the taste and tried duplicating the recipe after we get home.  We’ve come up with our own versions of our favorites.  These dishes, you just copy the name of the recipe and pass it off as your version.

Most often that it should be, I usually end up clueless on what to prepare for our regular meals at home.  What I do is just take a quick glance at what’s inside the freezer and pantry.  I try to cook whatever I saw and thought of in under an hour — with my nose and taste buds guiding me — with the limited unschooled cooking skills I have.  It’s kind of a family version of Iron Chef without the assistants, lights and TV cameras.  Now here’s where the tricky part comes in.  What on earth should I call this dish?

Honestly, I’ve graduated from playfully referring to my stews as “Mystery Stew.”   Basically, you can just name it with what the main ingredient is.  If it’s beef, then it’s beef stew.  Simple, isn’t it?  Now if it tastes (and looks) like anything I’ve had before in a restaurant, I adopt the name and tell folks that it’s my version of the dish.

I also have friends who regularly post pictures of their dishes on Facebook.  Although the food looks like it came from a recipe book — the pictures and food look perfect — the naming style is perfectly adaptable.  If you don’t read cookbooks and know a bit of your cooking styles, you can just name your dish in the manner of how you prepared it.  This is the same way that some restaurants do it — pan-fried something or slow-roasted this and that.  So, with this naming convention, the unassuming pork chop prepared in the traditional Pinoy way becomes “Deep-fried Crispy Crackling Pork Chop.”

Another way to do it was how my friend suggested I call my mince meat dish served for lunch yesterday.  I tweeted/ updated my Facebook status as “Cooking with Van Halen playing in the background.”  As she found out what I was preparing, she aptly called my dish “Picadillo Van Halen;”  nice ring to it, agree?  The kids and the wife didn’t Jump out of their seats to escape the meal.

Bottom-line is, even if you’re not a professional chef, you should try to come up with appetizing names for your meals.  It’s certainly better than calling something “Mystery Stew” or “Burned Dead Cow on a Plate.” 😛



  1. Oh. This means you really have a talent for cooking. I can never cook without a recipe in front of me.
    I’ve cooked a Picadillo. We can practically cook anything with minced meat.
    I don’t know if I really like to cook. I learned stuff from my mother. She used to have a catering business in the Philippines when we lived there.

    1. Thanks.

      Uy, nice! You’re from a food-loving family, too.

      Picadillo is a standard viand at home. From time to time we try to jazz it up a bit. Good thing my family loves to cook.

      What’s your favorite recipe?

      1. I don’t have any favorites. I seem to like all food. When I was in the Philippines this summer, I liked this dish with coconut sauce and taro leaves. My favorite restaurant there was Gerry’s grill, and mom and I would always order this dish. Mom bought the canned one here in the US but it tasted awful.

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