Delicious Doesn’t Always Mean Pretty

Excerpt from this article:

I’m still not sure precisely why, but a couple of months ago I decided I wanted to come up with a chicken recipe that would go viral on social media.

O.K., fine. I do know why. I was just too embarrassed to admit it outright: I was jealous of the New Yorker food correspondent Helen Rosner’s blow-dryer roast chicken. And every recipe the Times food columnist Alison Roman has ever written. So I wanted to throw my hat into the ring. With a chicken recipe. Because everyone (besides vegetarians, I guess) likes chicken, right?

What emerged from the oven about an hour later looked beautiful to me, but every mother thinks her children are gorgeous. In truth, I knew it wasn’t destined for a life of hashtags and retweets. It just wasn’t photogenic enough.

Advertisements

The Joy of #Cooking Why are Instagram-famous recipes so impossible to resist?

Excerpt from this article:

Until mid-November, #TheStew was an Instagram hashtag primarily devoted to Boston hip-hop producers, filled with dimly lit shots of guys hunched over their laptops. (“Stew” is a play on “studio.”) Very quickly, though, the images featured on the hashtag transformed into shot after shot of actual stew, milky and yellow, decorated with a few chickpeas and a scattering of fresh herbs. Every image was a version of the same stew, a recipe for Spiced Chickpea Stew With Coconut and Turmeric by New York Times food columnist Alison Roman, and if you follow urbane, food-loving millenials on social media, you probably thought that everyone in the world decided to make it for dinner this winter.

In less than two months, #TheStew has taken on a life of its own, and has no doubt entered the regular cooking rotation for numerous home cooks around the country. In the days when cookbooks, food magazines, and product labels were the primary spots that people found new recipes, it could take months or even years for ideas to become universally beloved household staples… But in the age of digital word of mouth, you only need to see the same recipe pop up on your feed so many times before you feel compelled to try it — and then of course to post about it yourself. The Instagram snowball effect means a recipe can enter the home-cooking canon in a matter of days, not years. Call it the joy of hashtag cooking.

Instagram Your Leftovers: History Depends on It

Excerpt from this article:

Today we have Instagram, overflowing with glamorous images created not by professional photographers but by home cooks in kitchens around the world. What an opportunity! With its vast reach and the technological savvy of its users, Instagram could go beyond mere glamour and open up a domestic world that has always been elusive. I’m talking about ordinary meals at home — the great unknown in the study of food.

Sure, we have agricultural statistics and marketing surveys; we have household records from 18th-century castles and charts showing the average consumption of Popsicles in the United States from 1953 to 1982. But there’s nothing to tell us what a schoolteacher in Connecticut served to her family on a Thursday in 1895. Or what she was thinking when she boiled the string beans for 45 minutes, put ketchup in the salad dressing and decided to try her neighbor’s recipe for rice pudding, the one with a little cinnamon.

Could Instagram capture today’s version of that story? Could it zero in on the third consecutive night of frozen tacos or the mug of milky Sanka that makes you feel like somebody’s grandfather but has become an unexpected nighttime addiction? Next time you eat a meal that’s certain to be forgettable, that’s the very moment to pull out your phone and hit “share.”

How BuzzFeed’s Tasty Conquered Online Food

 

Excerpt from this article:

No one knows who invented the overhead food video. Like image-macro memes or Slender Man, it most likely emerged in some primordial message-board swamp. But like everything else online, the format has since been refined, professionalized and monetized, and today most of these clips are produced on media assembly lines in Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo and London by a single entity: Tasty, a division of BuzzFeed that has turned the overhead food video into a hypergrowth business.

…BuzzFeed is obsessive about learning from past successes, and once it finds a theme or format that hits, it tends to repeat it until it’s dead. That’s why you’ll see a lot of videos featuring cheese, steak, bacon and pasta, some of the most popular ingredients. And it’s why Tasty videos always feature a money shot.

“Cheese pulls and gooey chocolate are so satisfying to watch, and those frames almost make you gasp out loud because they look so good,” Ms. King said. “We try to create those moments in every video, whether it’s an indulgent ingredient like cheese, or a fun way to use up leftovers, or cooking food in a way you haven’t seen.”

Someone taught a computer to write cookbooks and its recipe ideas are hilariously weird.

Excerpt from this article:

She’s also been using neural networks to study cookbooks. By feeding it hundreds of pages of cookbooks, she’s been able to use the program to automatically generate recipe titles. And while the technology is certainly impressive, it doesn’t quite have Ina Garten’s touch for naming dishes. In fact, the names it comes up with are hilariously weird. Shane posted a list of them on Tumblr, where it’s gone massively viral.