If you’ve had any cooking training, you almost certainly were told to salt the water in which you cook vegetables. It turns out that, objectively/scientifically, it doesn’t matter whether you do. The salt doesn’t
make the water boil faster raise the boiling point by any amount that makes a difference. It doesn’t make the vegetables retain their color any better. It doesn’t make them taste any differently than if you salt them afterward. In spite of that, I continue to salt the water in which I cook vegetables. I feel like I’ve done something wrong if I don’t. I know “better,” but that doesn’t mean I can comfortably do it.
Learning to cook isn’t just a matter of learning the science of cooking. It is also and, in fact more so, learning the behaviors of a cook and the lore of cooking. It is becoming part of a community of practice. Almost (can I delete that “almost”?) everything we do we do as part of a community of practice. Even science is a community of practice, with specific language and expected behaviors that are not absolutely correlated with the objective facts about science, laboratories, etc. In other words, even scientists “salt the water before cooking.”
However, not everything members of a group do is necessarily one of its practices. Salting the water before cooking is a practice of cooking; throwing spilled salt over your shoulder isn’t, even though a significant number of cooks do. Even they recognize that it is, instead, something outside the practices of cooking.
So, what kinds of practices make us uniquely who we are as Mormons?