I was enchanted by the clever design of this ceramic salt-and-pepper set when I saw it in a hotel gift shop in the Drakensberg yesterday, and I bought it (a snip at only R55). Separately, the shakers look like bewildered little ghosts, but they fit together in a most tender embrace.
The owner of the gift shop told me it was made by a local potter from the nearby village of Clarens - she didn't give me the potter's name - and I came away feeling encouraged by the high standard of South African design. I was a bit miffed, then, to discover (while Googling for the name of the set's creator) that this design isn't original, and is a rip-off of Alberto Mantilla's 'Hug' salt and pepper shakers.
Is 'a rip-off' too strong a term? Perhaps, because it implies intellectual thievery on the part of the maker of my set. Would the words 'inspired by' or 'adapted from' be more suitable? After all, the two designs are not exactly the same; in fact, I think that my set, with its rough, clinking surface and neutral colour, is the better looking. Whoever made this set improved upon an existing design, and I am very happy to have these little darlings on my table.
I'm not going to go into the ins and outs and ethics of ripper-offery here, because I have better things to do than poke an angry bear with a hot stick.
What I can say is that this little salt-and-pepper set represents the way I feel about food writers (and in this category I include authors, bloggers and celeb chefs) who don't credit the source of their recipes. I don't mean to sound grouchy, but, honestly, there are very few good recipes that haven't already been invented. So, if you nick a recipe off someone, why don't you just say so? Do you honestly expect me to believe that you invented vichyssoise or sticky toffee pudding or saffron mash in your suburban kitchen last night? Those are random examples, okay, and maybe I'm being a bit picky, but I have reason to be. My point: there is no shame in giving credit where credit is due. Whether you found your recipe in your grandma's battered old cookbook, or you got it from a 1978 Annette Kesler recipe in Fair Lady, or you were 'inspired' by Jamie Oliver's latest cookbook, the least you can do is nod in the directon of these clever cooks.
Read my full rant about crappy recipe-writing here.