The Joy Of Cooking (With An iPad)

Eat, drink, be merry

An article published yesterday in the Dining & Wine section of the New York Times suggests interactive applications are rendering traditional cookbooks obsolete.

Obsolete —now there’s a strong word.

Naturally this point could be argued, and there’s been plenty of debate surrounding the inevitable digitization of the book industry for some time now. If Google had their way paper books might become a thing of the past as their cloud-based eBookstore currently touts 3-million titles.

In any case there’s no denying digital tools have the capacity to enhance the cooking experience. Whether you’re a seasoned iron chef or the culinary equivalent of a deer in headlights when the pots are boiling over as the oven timer goes off (I’m the latter). Even the most complex recipes could become much easier to follow with a digital assistant of sorts in your corner.

Julia Moskin touches on the perks of interactive cooking: “…with the boom in tablet technology, recipes have begun to travel with their users from home to the office to the market and, most important, into the kitchen. With features like embedded links, built-in timers, infographics and voice prompts, the richness of some new apps hint that books as kitchen tools are on the way out.”

Who didn’t see this coming? The growing popularity of tablet computers has finally reached the kitchen. It was only a matter of time. In our house we’ve got exactly 44 cookbooks gathering dust on the bookshelf —none of them in digital format (yet). But I imagine we’ll start trying out a few cooking apps on our iPad soon enough.
Although, I’m not so sure I’d want an interactive version of chef Gordon Ramsay (Hell’s KitchenCookalong) shouting back at me. I’m willing to bet he’d yell something nasty or gripe that I’m not performing some crucial recipe step correctly. In which case I’d likely disable the camera being used by the app, presumably to monitor my progress.

Gordon Ramsay’s likeness will soon grace the screens of Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook line of e-readers (if not already) whether you like it or not. These devices are fuelling the publishing industry’s gradual shift away from paper books. Now full-blown cooking applications available on the iPad and Android platforms promise an even richer experience complete with Rachael Rayesque avatars encouraging you along as you cook—or shouting back at you—if you like that sort of thing.

Still, paper books will probably never completely go away. They’ll continue to endure, holding a special place in our hearts much like old vinyl records, comic books and graphic novels, despite our tendency to want everything digitized and app-ified.
The market for recipe books will remain, at least until someone figures out a less awkward way of using a touch screen interface while stuffing the Thanksgiving turkey.