If you haven’t already sent your wish list off to Santa, you may want to add a Kindle or iPad along with that set of Le Creuset cookware. Nearly 90 cookbooks from the world’s top chefs have gone digital. New releases come from those beloved recipe connoisseurs: Giada De Laurentiis, Iron Chef Bobby Flay, NY Times own Mark Bittman, David Chang, locavore Alice Waters and the only woman whose name is also a verb, as in, “Wow, you really Martha Stewarted that Christmas Dinner!”
The publishers want to stress that the e-books are well formatted for your digital reader, so you get high quality pictures, which is surely a helpful navigation tool. Recipes link to indexes, so you can easily search by ingredient, which can be helpful when you’re sitting on a crate of squash or collards with no idea what to do with them.
That all sounds great, but after spending a night in the kitchen making batches of holiday biscotti and a record-setting mess, I’m actually not so sure if this is good news or not. At first glance it really does sound wonderful—cookbooks not being forgotten in the digital age—but as any recipe-loving chef will tell you, cookbooks are not nearly close to being durable enough. Stains from sauce and syrups, sticky fingers that accidentally rip pages, and the dreaded splotch of oil that makes ‘tsp’ look indistinguishable from ‘tbsp’ until it’s too late, leave most cookbooks ending up as unique recipes all their own. Is having to set up your Kindle or iPad near a boiling pot of anything really a smart idea? Maybe a smarter advancement would be coming out with the first dishwasher safe rubber cookbook.
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