If you grew up in an Asian household, you’d probably be familiar with the following scenario: a busy kitchen helmed by your mother and grandmother, with hot woks and pots boiling, steaming and bubbling away on the stove. Conversations and instructions are exchanged over the existing din, as you are relegated to a corner of the already overcrowded room with the unenviable but highly important task to trim off the tails of bean sprouts.
Most people say that it is such experiences which keep the ‘food culture’ alive. The exchange of information and the passing down of secrets from generation to generation. Increasingly, technology and modern lifestyles have changed that – from handwritten recipes and watch-and-learn lessons, to smartphone and tablet-based cooking.
The digital kitchen
According to the Asia Pacific Food Forward Trends Report II, a survey conducted by Weber Shandwick earlier this year, the adoption of social media tools by consumers has impacted knowledge, insight and cooking habits. In fact, 51% of Singaporeans search for new recipes online! Cookbooks, on the other hand, are seemingly gathering dust with only 16% of Singaporeans using them to find recipes. Time constraints and lifestyle habits dictate that these individuals need to figure out what to cook, and more importantly, how to cook on their own. This is where platforms like Google and YouTube step in to throw budding chefs a lifebuoy.
The process almost always begins with a “What to cook” search. It might seem like a deceivingly simple task but figuring out what should be served at the table can be a stressful activity. Salmon? Chicken? Zucchini? Fingerling potatoes? Pasta? Rice? Italian? Thai? The list and the options are endless.
Next in line is the “How-to” information. Not all of us can claim to know how to successfully peel and pit an avocado without having the entire fruit smashed to an unrecognizable pulp. Not surprisingly then “How to cook” has been one of the top 10 searches on YouTube this year. It is also the title of a popular YouTube food channel where almost 2 million subscribers (at the time of writing) learn the ropes to creative desserts on a weekly basis.
Beyond the ‘whats’ and ‘hows’ of culinary expertise, most cyber chefs continue to entertain themselves in the kitchen using their devices by watching videos, surfing their favourite sites, or sharing their cooking experience with family and friends on social media. The entire process of cooking a meal from start to finish is fueled by the Web and digital devices, spurring a whole new dimension of food culture.
So the next time you go over to your friend’s place for dinner, don’t be surprised if your entire meal was the result of cyber search.