There are thousands and thousands of recipes on the Internet, and they’re all available for free. So just how many recipes does one person really need?
It’s not like there’s a whole lot of breaking news to report in the world of, say, broccoli. That’s why the failure of a magazine such as Gourmet—an icon in the industry, in print since 1941—shouldn’t come as a total surprise. A USA Today story on how we cook in the Internet era points out the problem: A fan of the magazine says she was saddened by the demise of Gourmet. Yet at the same time, when she needed a quick recipe, she didn’t go flipping through old magazines. She went online.
Sites like Recipe Wiki and Foodista have more options that you could cook in a lifetime. Example using the latter: I just searched “apple crisp,” and was inundated with 382 recipes. The logical question is: What’s the best recipe? Who should you trust? Both of these sites use the wiki formula, in which anyone can edit, add to, or otherwise alter recipes. As a NY Times story on such wiki sites says, ” the idea is that a thousand cooks can come up with a better recipe than any single chef.”
But is that really the case? You know what they say about too many chefs. Many cooks out there are skeptical of crowd-sourcing when it comes to the kitchen. Not all taste buds are created equal.
So who, if not the anonymous multitudes online, do we trust? More and more, the answer is celebrities. Gourmet may be gone, but as the USA Today story shows, the mags, TV shows, and cookbooks of celeb chefs like Rachael Ray and Paula Deen are thriving. (For a discussion with a cook once compared to “Rachael Ray on crack,” read this Cheapskate Q&A [http://cheapskate.blogs.time.com/2009/09/17/how-to-cook-with-under-a-buck-a-talk-with-the-99-cent-chef/].) So if you’re looking for something to blame for the death of Gourmet, I’d start with the Internet and the Food Network—the economy didn’t help either.