Last week, a friend I talk to about matters both intellectual and, well, food, offered me a slice of homemade plum tart. It was hard to ask for the recipe with my mouth so full, but I tried. She mentioned that she’d tweeted at work about needing a diversion. Could someone send her an entire recipe in a tweet?
Someone could and, in 140 characters or less, a recipe exchange -- and a ‘Tweet Tart’ -- was born.
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There's nothing new about the concept. I remember my mom and her friends scribbling notes and recipes on index cards or in the margins of cookbooks, sharing ideas and food across the backyard fence or kitchen table.
The explosive growth of the Internet and social media has reignited the age-old culinary art forms and created a community of cooks the size of – it’s impossible to say just how big it is, in fact. Personally, I read food blogs from Sydney and Singapore, New York and New Zealand, Los Angeles and London. And I know I’m not alone.
When a beloved food writer and blogger recently lost her husband to a sudden heart attack, the news went out via blog, Twitter, Facebook; and the outpouring of love, support and, yes, food was immediate and overwhelming. Bloggers Without Borders (see? It’s a big blog world) set up a fund and held an online auction to raise money for the bereft family. And food bloggers the world over made (and photographed and chatted about) ‘Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey,’ to honor a grieving womanmost of them had never met.
But online sustenance isn’t limited to matters of the heart or even to recipes. Technology has brought an entirely new generation of might-have-lived-their-whole-lives-on-takeout kids into the kitchen. Don’t know how to boil water? Check out YouTube. Always burn toast? Google it. Want to get a little more creative and make bread/cheese/chocolate éclairs/insert any food here from scratch? You’re bound to find a video – or a friendly group of foodies -- to walk you through it.
From measurement conversions to food-recall information, all manner of kitchen information can be accessed in an instant and can spread just as quickly via social media and blogging. The vast world of food has shrunk, but our horizons have expanded immeasurably.
I still have – and treasure – handwritten recipes and notes from both my mom and grandmother; and I’ll use them forever. But I suspect the legacy I leave my own daughter will be far different: a bookmark folder full of links to recipes for all manner of food from all corners of the world. I do miss that backyard fence, and I can’t believe I’m saying this. But I’m really okay with that.