Easy Is in the Eye of the Beholder

Physicists frequently get laughed at for referring to problems as “trivial” when calculus is required to solve them. “Maybe it’s trivial for you, Einstein,” people will say, “but it looks pretty hard from here.”

It’s nice to see that other fields are prone to the same sort of thing. Take, for example, this list of recipes from the Guardian, which they claim is a list of the “all-time quickest and simplest summer dishes” submitted by foodies and noted chefs.

Some of them live up to that billing, like this entry from Mark Bittman:

69. Steamed asparagus wrapped in prosciutto

That’s the recipe.

Others, though…

22. Best crab cakes

In a frying pan, sweat a spoonful of a finely chopped shallot in a little butter. Add a minced jalapeño pepper until soft and add into 300g of carefully picked-through fresh lump crab meat. Add freshly chopped dill and enough of a well-beaten egg white so it holds together, then a little cornflour so it stiffens. Season with sea salt, form into a thick patty, roll in breadcrumbs, and fry in a little hot olive oil. (Serve with corn on the cob and green salad, above.)

(from Suzanne Pirret, a food writer I’ve never heard of)

That sounds pretty tasty, but “quick and easy”? Not so much. Just the carefully picking through of the crab meat is going to take longer than what I would consider “easy.”

But then, I’m just a physicist.