I love a good provocative article to get my juices flowing and my heart rate up. Check out this well-written piece from the Washington Post, which is not, as the title might suggest, an elegy for cookbooks and recipes, but instead is conjecture about technology’s impact on traditional cooking. Chef and Food Channel personality Tyler Florence waxes prophetic in this article and says that recipes are dead: “the same way paper maps are dead.” The story goes on to say that Florence “had signed on with what he says will be the kitchen equivalent of GPS. He joined Innit, a start-up building a ‘connected food platform’ — connecting the smart kitchen with software that aims to personalize and automate cooking.”
I find all of this a bit alarmist, like a proclamation that oil painting is dead simply because we have digital art software. While new mediums can extend an arts or science genre and provide innovative ways to access traditional methods and results, the appeal and value of classic, time-honored approaches are not diminished. In fact, they are more sought-after and prized as shortcuts become commonplace. Case in point: if you’re a serious cook, wouldn’t you rather make your own stock than use sodium-laced canned broth? Cookbooks and recipes tell you how to do it, in fail-proof detail.
Having said all this (vehemently!), the article is a good read, and I like one of the major themes, which is that experimentation while cooking is important. But for me, the recipe has an important place as a good starting point, a baseline against which you can create your own riff like a jazz musician taking a solo during an American songbook tune that’s been around for 80 years. The form of the tune provides a foundation for the improvisation – just like the recipe provides a springboard for your improvisational culinary art.
Says the article: New apps aim to help you — and your connected kitchen — make highly customizable dishes without traditional instruction.
Images from The Washington Post
Opinion copyright Glover Gardens 2017