I remember when I was little, I would sit on the counter watching as my mom planned the dinner for that night. She would pull out her giant note card holder and flip through the millions of hand written pieces of paper titled things like “Mom’s Potatoes Au Gratin” or “Noni’s Herbed Chicken.” These recipes, passed down from generation to generation, kept her in contact with her ancestors through the art and love of cooking. I remember being so excited to go to my Nain’s house to learn the step-by-step process of baking a pie from scratch, a lesson and memory that I still hold dear.
I always imagined myself going about the same type of process that my Nain and my mother went through: pulling out a long-cataloged list of recipes to find the perfect recipe for that night. But, this is not what happens today. The way I find a dinner recipe is scrolling through Facebook or Instagram and saving good Tasty or other social media’s form of recipe video. Then when it comes time to plan dinner, I simply go back through my saved videos and links and see which recipe I want to make on that particular night.
Even though these recipe links and videos may not be as special to me as a hand-written recipe passed down from my great-grandmother, I still am able to teach myself the art of cooking through these detailed instructions and videos of techniques that I find. I have been able to learn more styles of cooking than I ever have before, expanding into the areas of Italian, Asian, and Latin American foods has been incredibly beneficial for my skill-development as well as for my ability to determine how to cook in a healthy fashion.
I think that cooking in the age of social media has provided for means of skill-development from home and for the transfer of different methods and styles of cooking beyond where they would normally develop. For example, the different categories of Buzzfeed’s Tasty Instagram accounts, such as @bientasty, @tastyjapan, and @tastyvegetarian, have provided me the means of learning about the different ways in which food can be prepared in different areas of the world and tailored to the different tastes of various cultures. There is much to be learned about the art of cooking around the world, and social media has provided a means of doing such. Bee Wilson’s article in the Guardian puts it best when she says “Recipes are such a ubiquitous technology, we sometimes take for granted just how much we have benefited from their diffusion. Even 50 years ago, most humans on the planet lived like the Dharavi cooks in Mumbai, stuck in our own household units cooking our own particular cuisines. Now, for those with the resources and the desire, just about any dish is reproducible in any kitchen across the world, if we can only follow the steps (which is a big ‘if’).” Social media has given people a way to learn about the world and its cultures from a whole new perspective, even that as intimate as the food our family has made for generations.