Can you plagiarize food?


I’d really like to know about rules and ethics concerning food-plagiarism, or if it’s totally okay for me to make Nutella crepes a mere two days after having eaten them in a restaurant. Does it make it any less unimaginative that I added strawberries and topped it with whipped cream when the restaurant totally didn’t, instead electing to just throw some pecans at it and call it a day? What about if the only reason I changed it is that I didn’t have any pecans? Is it okay since I made my own crepes, which is apparently a process only slightly less difficult than amending the constitution? What if I told you I paired the crepes with Eggbeaters and leftover spiral ham that were scrambled together with copious amounts of black pepper? What if I just provided you with another picture of said crepes so that when you get lonely at night and can’t find any interweb spots that will let you see naked pictures of the cast of Saving Private Ryan without your credit card, which is in your pants, which you’re not wearing, obviously, that you have something to keep you warm and inappropriately aroused?

I went at these things like a spider monkey. Honestly. They tasted like dessert, but were technically brunch. Kind of like the Leapster learning center that plays just like a video game but is actually a great way to teach kids to spell, which they will promptly forget as soon as they get ahold of spellcheck and learn to be unforgivably lazy. I don’t use spellcheck, never have. I’d like to say that it’s all a function of my superior intellect, but it’s actually a function of the fear that I’d try to type the word “asswad” and accidently end up replacing it with the word “assured” or something like that. Horrifying.

My over-consumption wasn’t a problem, though, since Chris and I got up at 7 and ran 13 miles in a time so incredibly fast that I’d go so far as to say that we “weren’t walking”! Suck on that, Olympic Committee.

8 thoughts on “Can you plagiarize food?”

  1. From a legal point of view (IANAL, but I deal with copyright law at least weekly): copyright covers the expression of an idea, not the idea itself.

    So, for example, if I write a story about a dinosaur that comes to Manhattan and becomes a successful screenwriter, and you copy-and-paste it and pass it off as your own, I can sue you. But if I just tell you that idea and you go off and write a story based on it, I haven’t got a leg to stand on.

    In the case of recipes, I believe this is fairly clear – you can copyright the expression of a recipe (so you couldn’t just copy-and-paste a recipe, including instructions, from someone else’s book to this blog), but you can’t copyright the recipe itself (so if you wanted to tell us how to make that exact same recipe, but in your own words, that would be fine).

    See http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl122.html

    From an ethical point of view – I’d say this is how food develops. Sure, sometimes we come up with original dishes, but equally, sometimes we taste something really nice and want to make it ourselves. And when we make it, we’ll almost certainly change it in some way, improve it in our eyes – and presto, new dish.

    Ethics may be different if you’re making up a menu for a restaurant, but for home cooking? Go for it, say I.

  2. I don’t know anything about those kinds of matters. What I DO know is that these crepes look delectable and that if someone were going to cry PLAGIARISM then you could just stuff one of these yummy treats in their pie-hole and tell them to shut their face! And….since, if I remember correctly, they were not YOUR crepes but, rather belonged to someone else who was willing to impart upon you a taste (or three) of their treat…I think it should be considered quite an homage to the maker of said crepes that you would want more and try to replicate them at home!!! Its a compliment. An homage, so to say!!!!

    PS – thank you for the new food p0rn!!!

  3. Mmmmmm, crepes. Believe me, my pants are coming off right now.

    If you change the words, or add just one little thing to a recipe then shit, it’s yours. There’s only so much you can do with food. Just about everything has been done already, and people are still making money and being called “unique”.

  4. Flip Happy Crepes. Airstream trailer 1 block south of the Schlotzsky’s on S. Lamar between Barton Springs and Riverside. Check it out next time you’re in town.

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