Watch where you put that churro: Chile’s Supreme Court has ordered a newspaper to pay out more than $120,000 to 13 people who suffered burns when they attempted a recipe the paper had published for churros, a snack of deep-fried dough dusted in sugar that’s popular in Latin America.
Days after the recipe was published in 2004, hospitals around the country began treating people for burns after the dough had shot out of their pots, showering them with hot oil.
The high court found that the newspaper failed to properly test the recipe before publication: If readers followed the instructions, their churros had a good chance of exploding once the oil reached the suggested temperature, which was too high.
“The explosions were so violent that in some cases the splashes hit the ceiling and covered the person who was cooking,” the ruling said.
“Faithfully following the recipe published in the newspaper, this damage could not have been avoided.”
The publisher of the newspaper, La Tercera, will pay damages ranging from $279 to $48,000, the latter to one woman whose burns were especially severe.
It’s not the first time a published recipe hasn’t ended well.
Felicity Cloake, author of Perfect: 68 Essential Recipes for Every Cook's Repertoire, rounded up some of the worst magazine and cookbook recipe errors of all time, including chef Antony Worrall Thompson, who recommended a potentially fatal weed called henbane for salads in a 2008 issue of Healthy and Organic Living magazine. He meant fat hen weed.
The editor sent subscribers a warning explaining that henbane “is a very toxic plant and should never be eaten.” For his part, Mr. Worrall Thompson told The Guardian: “I was thinking of a wild plant with a similar name, not this herb. It’s a bit embarrassing, but there have been no reports of any casualties. Please do pass on my apologies.”
Ms. Cloake also pointed to Random House, which in 1977 yanked Woman’s Day Crockery Cuisine after it was discovered that the custard recipe instructed readers to leave an unopened tin of condensed milk in a crockpot for four hours.
This, Ms. Cloake wrote, “caused the tin to blow up halfway through cooking, destroying the slow cooker and anything in its path, as well as any prospect of pudding.”
Have you ever experienced a hazardous culinary disaster thanks to a bad recipe? Did you contact the publisher?
Editor's Note: Felicity Cloake is the author of Perfect: 68 Essential Recipes for Every Cook's Repertoire. Incorrect information appeared in an earlier version of this story.