Here’s my recipe for garlic bread: I make a thick, pungent paste out of minced garlic, softened unsalted butter, extra virgin olive oil, red pepper flakes, grated parmesan cheese, coarse black pepper, and kosher salt, and spread it liberally onto a split loaf of local ciabatta. Then I place it into a 450°F oven for about 10 minutes, until it’s just browned around the edges and studded with roasted garlic bits. It’s delicious.
I first started making garlic bread when I was a kid, maybe 10 years old. In fact, it’s one of the first things I remember cooking by myself. Here was my method back then: I took whatever ancient jar of garlic powder my mom had stashed in the spice cabinet, mixed it with some microwave-melted butter, poured it onto white bread (cut into triangles with the crusts removed for presentation; I wasn’t a savage), put it into an indiscriminately hot oven, and made sure it didn’t burn. Back then, I thought that was delicious too.
Comparing the two, they’re barely the same food, and I can’t imagine eating (or forcing someone else to eat) my childhood garlic bread today. But what’s strange is, it feels to me like I’ve been making garlic bread the same way for the last 20 years. Why? I guess it’s because I never really made any major leaps in technique; every change I made over the years was small. At some point I replaced the garlic powder with garlic from a jar, then started mincing my own. I swapped the white bread with Italian bread, then a baguette, then ciabatta. I introduced the olive oil. I added complementary flavors one by one, and removed ingredients that didn’t quite work (looking at you, rosemary). I may have even gone backward a time or two, reverting to previously abandoned methods. It was a constant, iterative path from my immature proto-garlic bread to my modern, sophisticated garlic bread.
Enough about garlic bread; let’s talk about web design. We work in an industry where change happens at a breakneck pace. What’s true today may not have been true six months ago or even six weeks ago. The internet is a juggernaut, and we’re all powerless to stop it. But design is different. It progresses at its own pace, and it’s not always fast. Sometimes design happens deliberately, glacially, almost imperceptibly. Sometimes, you might not even know you’re designing.
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