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.