I'll admit it, I'm a bit of a recipe testing junkie. I LOVE the whole experience and I truly get geeked out about the whole thing. I have always loved cookbooks but I have never been apart of them like I have for the past year and a bit. I really enjoy the creative process and watching how the recipes evolve. I definitely appreciate all the hard work that goes into one now too that I have seen only a fraction of what goes into it. It takes a seriously creative mind to come up with a concept and follow it through, to come up with 100 recipes (or more!) and then write all the other parts of the book. I have always read cookbooks cover to cover but now I really make sure to do it since I know how much work an author puts into that part and I think they are worried we are all skipping it.
The other great part of testing is that these authors don't just say thanks and move on, they work with the testers, they chat with us and become friends. I have found that it is a wonderful community of people that love to cook and share and support each other. Usually when I tell someone that I am testing for a cookbook they ask if I'm being paid for it and nope I'm not. I do this because I love doing it. There's usually some sort of deal where you get a copy of the book when it's published and you usually get a thank you in the back of the book (which secretly is my favourite part!). I always think that being involved in the process is the best payment though.
I have found, through my testing experiences so far, that when you let go and just try something, usually you end up loving it. I would read through an ingredient list sometimes and think "I'm not sure I'm gonna like this" or "that with that??" but then I learned to shut out that part of my brain that thinks it knows everything and just try it. I can't say every time I was wrong and loved what I ate but most of the time, I did! I learned after thinking I didn't like tempeh that I LOVE tempeh, like seriously love it and crave it all the time now. I learned that I love eggplant despite its tough purple exterior that scared me off for years. I learned that I still dislike cilantro but love coriander which makes no sense to me since they are basically the same thing but they are different (maybe because cilantro tastes like feet?). And I never, ever would have tried haggis and then I did (vegan of course) and it was delicious!
I don't think I ever would have opened up like that if I hadn't been testing recipes. I know I never would have if I hadn't chosen to be vegan. I always giggle when I hear people say veganism is restrictive but, to be honest, when I first started I felt that way too. Strangely, I always had way more restrictions about eating meat than I have about what I eat now. It really has been a eye opening experience for me to try out new methods of cooking and new types of cuisine and it's all because of these experiences I've had testing recipes. Even if I never test another book, it will change the way I look at a cookbook and the way I cook altogether. Instead of flipping through a new cookbook and finding the recipes that most closely resemble what I already eat, now I will flip through and find the thing that is the furthest and give it a go! And now instead of making the same ten things over and over again, I always try to try out something new or invent something each week.