My mom's step grandmother is the greatest dessert cook in the history of the world. She knows how to make EVERYTHING (except for the European concoctions that involve funny pastry shells and more than 8 letter names). She knows every recipe by heart and every recipe is her treasure (ie- she won't share it with ANYONE). Growing up, we never went to visit her very much, but when we did I sat down and pigged out (which might explain why I used to be fat).
As I got older, and nana got even older, I began to worry about who was going to learn the recipes that made my childhood so sweet. I asked her once if she had written down the recipes somewhere or if she planned to teach them to someone so they can be ritually passed down like one of those family secrets you read about in books and she said that she would teach them to someone in our family after she turned 90.
Naturally, I didn't freak out because she was willing to share the recipes only after she reached 90 (the people in our family are practically immortal) but I had a near nervous breakdown because I wasn't sure if I qualified as "someone in our family" seeing how I was a "step great grandchild". Why should I get the recipes as oppossed to my cousins who really are "someone in her family"? even though they haven't been alive long enough to care...
I never shared this with anyone other than my mom. My mom says that she will probably leave the recipes to me because I am the only one who has ever shown interest in keeping up with the dessert making tradition; however, she also says that if she doesn't leave them to me that I can't be upset, hurt or even disappointed. Cooking is a ritual and in some cultures, including my own, certain recipes contain the story of who we are and where we come from. It is unfair to ask someone to give it to you if you don't know what it means.
Someone told me a story today about a friend asking her to give him her recipes so that his girlfriend can make them for him (because he is too good to make them for her). She said that it's not in the recipes but in the hand that cooks them. I say that she shouldn't have to share what she learned from her family and what she shares with her family with a bonehead who appreciates the taste but doesn't appreciate the historical and cultural value of it.
Some people think that everything is so simple...
If it's that important for him to have his gf make him vegetable casserole (or whatever), he should go buy her a cookbook!