I’m back from my Passover and spring breaks which included the acquisition of a new technology toy (more later), the discovery of a great kugel recipe that you should bookmark for next year (http://bit.ly/applematzahkugel), and an unfulfilled goal to make a sponge cake that doesn’t just taste delicious, but actually looks appealing too. The cake I made was yummy but not pretty. Shortly after the picture of it rising so beautifully in the oven, it became a mere flat, disfigured apparition of itself. That visual is not getting published.
Now on to the technology toy purchase. Near the end of Passover we headed to the snow for a late-season ski trip. Lucky for the ski resorts, a winter storm interrupted Easter Sunday (and Monday). With the 20mph winds blowing sheets of snow sideways, we decided to hit a shopping center instead of the slopes. So like any self-respecting Silicon Valley family stuck in Reno, we headed straight to the Apple store and bought an iPad.
Generally, technology doesn’t thrill me nearly as much as a well-cooked meal. But when the iPhone came out, I wanted one so badly I could “taste” it. Unfortunately, the AT&T service and the “impossible to type-on” keypad did me in. No iPhone for me. Then Apple introduces the iPad. Our family doesn’t generally buy first-generation hardware, but for some reason we decided we would jump in this time. I never buy myself anything so my husband made the leap for me and I am now the proud owner of a 16GB Wifi iPad. He’s waiting on his 64GB 3G version to come in the mail. I have to reveal that I already have a MacBook Air so the iPad is really just a fun accessory for me. No need for the souped-up version.
But I digress – what does this all have to do with yummy food? That’s one of the first things I tried to figure out. So I checked out the iBooks store and the App store. There isn’t much selection in the bookstore yet, but imagine if you could get any cookbook you wanted as an iBook? I’m sure many of you, like me, can’t fit any more cookbooks on your shelves, but still like reading them anyhow. Imagine if they were available on your kitchen counter in the shape of an iPad? What about all those Bon Appétit magazines that you keep meaning to sort through? You can get the recipes on Epicurious, but what if the magazines were available electronically as well? No more magazine piles in the bathroom or bedside…
And what about the apps? Could the Epicurious app be better on iPad? You decide: Here’s a comparison between what a recipe looks like on Epicurious in a browser vs. the Epicurious App for iPad:
With the tap of your hand, you can add the ingredients to a grocery list or pop up the reviews to read. Using the Apple case, you can have it sitting on your counter like a little TV screen right at your fingertips.
Is it a necessity for me with my MacBook Air at hand? No, definitely not. But is it a whole new way to look at, acquire, and manage information? I think so. Search engines have already transformed my ability to cook more interesting food and use up ingredients by allowing me to type them in and find recipes. But what if all the cooking magazines and cookbooks I enjoy were readily available to me in that little 9.5 X 7.5 inch device? Frequently, I am inspired to cook by browsing the aisles of gourmet food stores, farmer’s markets, or by reading about how someone else is using ingredients. I process what I see or read and either try someone else’s recipe or apply something they’ve done to something I already know how to do. I love to learn about a new dish or technique by spending 10 minutes reading reviews of experienced cooks and chefs who have already tried it – something you could not do before the prevalence of the Internet. The iPad will only improve that access.
One other great aspect – we all know our appetites are enhanced by beautiful presentation of food. The photos are so beautiful on the iPad screen that I believe it can really make a good food photo look great compared to its appearance on a mediocre display. Now if we can just figure out how to get the OMG! Yummy smells to come through with the pictures… My 15–year-old technology genius son is working on that. I’ll keep you posted.