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Food for thought

Now here at BURN towers we all love our food. It’s one of the true joys in life and second only to drink in our opinion.

That said, even we were alarmed by a new site called Foodista. It brings the concept of the Wiki to cooking instructions, which in our view is a recipe for disaster.

The site, which was brough to our attention by the latest issue of Springwise, allows users to edit the recipes that are posted with their own additions and amendments. The idea is that rather than returning thousands of results against a particular search term, the site (through the editorial control of it’s users) will instead attempt to perfect a smaller number of recipes.

However, the site seems fundamentally flawed to us. Surely variety is the spice of life as far as food goes. After all we’ve all got different tastes.

Part of the fun of browsing through cookery books or sites is sifting through recipes and deciding which tickle our fancy. After all we’ve all got particular ingredients we hate.

If users keep editing a small number of recipes with their own favourite twists, then what’s the point in bookmarking a favourite dish if it could be your worst nightmare when you next return. And never mind the damage the wannabe Heston Blumenthal’s could do by adding in their own ‘special’ creative thinking. After all, liver in anything never works.

Hot or not? Not I’m afraid…

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1 Comment

  1. Barnaby Dorfman on November 14, 2009 at 2:20 am

    Thanks for the mention of Foodista! It’s funny, but the mass collaborative editing introduced by Wikis is both one of the most successful and counter-intuitive developments of the Web. Even now, few people understand how Wikipedia works. I would also argue that there’s a lot more subjective opinion there than people realize.

    While it’s true that there is a lot of creativity in cooking, there is also a lot of objective fact, e.g. the boiling/freezing temperatures of water. There is also a lot of general agreement of what common dishes are. That’s why menus in restaurants work..we know what to expect.

    On the factual side at Foodista, we’ve created pages to write about basic foods, cooking techniques, and kitchen tools. When it comes to recipes, we have two types, “public” which anyone can edit and “personal,” which you can lock when you add your original creations. Rather than have a ton of duplication, we’re trying to capture the things people agree on and highlight where there is debate and/or originality. It’s much harder to find a creative version of Goulash if you have to sort through 500 recipes that are 98% identical. As for lowest common denominator, it’s just not what we’re seeing. Most of the editing being done, and needed, is around formatting, punctuation, and spelling…less about fundamentally changing ingredients.

    Finally, though we are a Wiki, we have a lot more structure than Wikipedia. We’ve written software to automatically find and discover connections between concepts in cooking. Our goal is to help people learn about both science AND artistry in the kitchen. Check out this experiment as a fun example: http://www.foodista.com/labs/ingredomatic.cgi?q=apple+pie