I don't usually cook with recipes. I do read food stories in the newspaper and in Fine Cooking, my favorite food magazine, more to get general concepts than specific directions. But I was browsing through old columns in the New York Times and came upon a recipe that I tried immediately.
It was for a Tuscan dish called salsiccia all'uva (sausages and grapes) and it caught my eye because magnificent seedless white grapes were on special all week. We'd already bought a big bag and scarfed it down, the best grapes we'd eaten in months. So this recipe seemed to be karma.
Besides, it was about as simple as a recipe can possibly be: brown some Italian sausages, add a big heap of grapes and cook them in the same pan until they start to soften and collapse. Squeeze some lemon over the top and serve.
Unfortunately, it didn't work out exactly as the recipe promised. The key to this dish apparently was that some of the grapes would get brown, some would collapse into mush, others would stay relatively firm, thus giving a nice variety to the plate. But though I cooked and cooked and cooked, none of the grapes ever got mushy. In desperation I crushed a few of them with a spatula, but never got them to soften.
Experiences like this do nothing to induce me to follow recipes. It was an interesting combination of foods but not one that I'm dying to make again. If we find ourselves in a grape glut some time maybe I'll give it one more shot. But I'll do it a little differently... maybe put the grapes in a tomato sauce and serve over pasta...