By Jeffrey Bloomer
— Comment sections on websites can be nasty places, but they're rarely more useless than they are on popular recipe sites like AllRecipes, Epicurious and the like. The comments there are not full of the obvious trolling you come across elsewhere, which is generally easy to ignore. Instead, you find one recipe "review" after another that pointlessly recounts an innocuous substitution, describes a husband who thought the dish was too spicy, or shares a breathless complaint about "no flavor" that could surely be fixed with a teaspoon of salt. Occasionally one finds a flash of genius from a clever cook, but usually the comments are an endless slog.
So I was happy to discover that my despair over such commenting practices is widely shared — and even happier to read a perfect parody of this corner of the Internet. In a glorious recipe posted to Food.com that has been making the rounds on Twitter, a frustrated cook offers a recipe for ice cubes, noting that it may come in handy for "families who have members who don't know how or have forgotten how to make ice when the ice tray is empty." The rundown proceeds as expected — water, freezer — and it's funny enough on its own: a passive-aggressive plea to refill trays that anyone can get behind.
But then the commenters get ahold of it, and the magic begins.
"This recipe is horrible!" declares Chef #1408275. "Maybe I should have left them in longer than two minutes (the recipe doesn't say how long to leave them in the freezer so I just kind of guessed) but mine came out all watery. I won't be making these again."
"I harvest my own free-range water, so the idea of putting it in a plastic tray and a commercially made electricity-wasting freezer disgusts me," huffs donquix66.
It goes on, beautifully: "I was wondering if you had a crock-pot version for this recipe." "So easy and low carb/cal, lactose, and gluten free." "The addition of 1 1/2 T of Sriracha really lifted the oxygen flavor that was being overpowered by the doubled hydrogen."
The winks and nudges continue, and no commenter stereotype goes uncovered. There is a Rachael Ray joke, an Al Gore joke, and at least one genuinely helpful suggestion for how to end up with clearer ice (start with hot water). True, the jest gets a little overextended in 326 reviews, but the deft sendup of the comments that typically litter these sites seems to have sprouted organically from the community. It's enough to restore one's faith in Internet commenting.