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Saturday, 31 May 2008

'Gourmet' zucchini rissoles (Κολοκυθόκεφτέδες του καλοφαγά)

(What I am about to write is in no way meant to be taken literally - it is really a play on words, and is not meant to be a scathing attack on anyone, nor a condemnation of someone's approach to their work. But if anyone is seriously interested in recipe copyright infringement, you light like to check out Alosha' s post to see the point I am making)

In the past, it wasn't easy to plagiarise other people's work simply because printed material was hard to come by, unless you bought it from a bookshop or borrowed it from a library. Now that the internet has allowed people to view someone's writing at the simple click of a button, plagiarism is ingrained in the daily life of Westernised people, whether they live in a modern New World country like Canada, or the backwaters of a Mediterranean island like Hania.

In Greece, plagiarism is the norm. Yes, really, it is. My work involves proof-reading students' English-language theses. In most cases, you can tell when someone has copy-pasted their work. For example, a paragraph is written perfectly without any grammar errors; then suddenly the next paragraph you read is riddled with grammar errors, making it virtually incomprehensible. The two paragraphs could not have been written by the same person. Here's another example of what I call 'vicarious' plagiarism. When a student can't write something himself (or herself - I'm into generic terms), he (which could also mean 'she') gets someone else to write something instead and uses it as their (which of course means 'his' or 'her') own work, without the other person getting any acknowledgement of their endeavours.

Kat had a recent episode of this where an official Greek state body copied her work from her blog without acknowledging it as someone else's work. Well, that stinks, really, which is exactly what Peter thought (the first person to comment on the post), when he read Kat's post: he advises her to "start with the niceties and then increase the pressure... if you can find their ISP, a complaint to them could also throw their site in jeopardy." Dark words, I dare say. At least I can sleep in peace with the thought that such a person will not plagiarise my writing, nor copy my ideas, at least not without acknowledging my own in the first place.

Stealing ideas and intellectual material is also a similar issue with that of plagiarism. On our blogs, we all use little blurbs, graphics and notes to inform our readers that we will not tolerate copy cats. For example, I write: "©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki." at the bottom of all my posts, while on the main page, I use a couple of graphics: Creative Commons License and Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape
that some nice people created (and have given rights to bloggers to use) to dissuade people from from copying their work. In the world of the internet, where a recent study using Web searches in 75 different languages to sample the Web determined that in 2008 there were at least 45 billion web pages, one can only come to the conclusion that there is a fat chance of ever being caught plagiarising.

The recipe world is one area where direct plagiarism can be softened, covered up or completely hidden - by changing one ingredient, or using a synonym of a word - which basically 'proves' that the author wrote up his (I'm not being generic this time) own work and didn't copy. Just because someone gets an idea for a recipe into his (HIS) head doesn't mean he (HE) copied the idea from someone else. In Crete, people generally eat the same kind of seasonal food no matter where they're from, so they can't be called copycats of each other. That's just part of what the Mediterranean food culture is all about. Instead of making Maria's courgette patties, Gordon Ramsay, upon reading it (I doubt he has had the good fortune to do so), could make (if he so pleased, but as far as I know, has not done so) 'zucchini rissoles' instead. As Pantelis says, "these are also known as fritters." He also said that you can "Call it what you want."

In any case, it just depends on your taste whims, what you cook from one day to the next doesn't it? I guess I just felt like zucchini rissoles (oops, I'm sorry, I meant courgette patties) after seeing the river of zucchini flowing out of the garden and into my refrigerator - an upward stream, like the Nile, the only known river in the world to flow from South to North, from bottom to up. Other cooks might make zucchini rissoles simply because they saw someone else making them, and felt like making them themselves. Or maybe they were passing by the fruit and vege stall after work and saw some zucchini (among the 80% of imported fresh produce their country eats) and decided that this is what they would like to eat tonight.

Mind you, I don't make it difficult for anyone to copy my recipes, what with the step-by-step photos of my meals and the clear explanations of how the ingredients are turned into something edible and delicious. Cretans have this thing about food: you just don't eat without inviting in the passerby. So if you're passing by my blog, you'll know that to make courgette patties (or zucchini rissoles, or kolokithokeftedes, as the Greeks would call them), a variety of different ingredients can be added to them. I didn't tell you in my original post that I've been served them with tomato at a restaurant. Some gourmets add cheese to theirs. I used fennel weed, although the norm is a mixture of mint and parsley (which is just what the gourmet used).

In any case, zucchini patties (now I don't know whose recipe I'm talking about) cannot be worked up in a jiffy: "courgettes have such a high water content that you need to get rid of it to make firm patties." That's the same as saying: "the key to Kolokithokeftedes' success ... relies heavily upon your ability to leech and squeeze out as much liquid from the grated zucchini as possible."

"The second point" that the leecher made was that the "the amount of bread crumb in this recipe is approximate. Again, the amount will depend on how much liquid you squeezed out of your zucchini that will be needed to bind your mixture." That's not at all like my recipe. I mentioned that I do this with flour, not breadcrumbs. In any case, if you stick an egg and some cheese into the patties (as did the "leech and squeeze", rather than the one who "got rid of the excess moisture"), the patties will definitely hold their form better (but they won't be truly vegetarian unless you're an egg-eating vegetarian). Mind you, he's not averse to lenten kolokithokeftedes, as he admits to eating them "with and without cheese."

And isn't it amusing, that all the points mentioned in the squeezer's are in the same order as mine? Maybe it's a case of great minds thinking alike.

So, which came first, the chicken or the egg? In the world of publishing, to prove that you wrote something, you must stick it in a sealed envelope, and send it registered to yourself, so that the date you sent it can be used as proof of when the article originated in its finished form. Blogs are dated, but then I could set the date for any time I like. Despite my claiming to have published the recipe on Tuesday, the 27th of May, 2008 (while the squeegee published his on Wednesday, the 28th of May, 2008, after admitting that he had seen mine by leaving a comment on the post: "AMAN! I'm making kolokithokeftedes tonight!"), I could have written it on Wednesday, and dated it for Tuesday. He even told one of his readers that he "saw Maria's entry on them" and he "left her a note as well."

But I was beaten on one point: we ate our zucchini patties with tzatziki, which the lovely Georgia from Bulgaria (the Queen's live-in) had made for us. I thought it would be cheating if I included it in my post. You see, I didnt' make it myself. I'm not a plagiariser. All my posts are thoroughly web-searched and credit is always given where it's due. The combination of zucchipatties and tzatziki makes it look as though we are both what we eat, and that is we are both Greeks.

I'm not amazed that Peter's courgette patties were a love affair for him - especially after I talked about the connotations of the topic of size and length in Greece. I'm just amazed that he didn't (originally) acknowledge it to me; maybe I had no effect on him in the first place (although he did say he reads through his friends' blogs). In any case, I am not a cook - I've already stated that in my posts - so don't go searching through my recipes for what to eat tonight. Instead, think of me as a famous writer who makes her readers laugh themselves silly with what she writes about.

Thank you Peter, for taking my mind off my domestic mini-crisis, which I promise you all will have a nice ending, because that's the way all good stories should end, shouldn't they?

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.