In his introduction to M.F.K. Fisher's Art of Eating, W.H. Auden, as a person "who cannot cook," said ". . . much as I enjoy reading recipes, they remain for me mysterious magical spells . . . ."
Boy, do I ever agree with that, Frank. Years ago, when I was only just learning to cook, I followed recipes to the letter 'cause I didn't know how to deviate. Turns out I had a copy of Craig Claiborne's NYTIMES cookbook that had lots of typos. I was making a dessert that told me to saute some butter over high heat for 33 minutes (it should have said seconds). Allan watched the panfire that ensued and the caramel-baked unusable pan that resulted. I was just sure the recipe had to be right, no matter what common sense told me.