Would You Cook Recipes Chosen by Your Phone?
Plus: I am excited and terrified to tell you a Malort book is coming.
Howdy cookbook fans!
And happy Tuesday! I hope you’re doing well. Lots to get to today (I am still! working through old news), so let’s get to it already!
Soon, iPhones Will Recommend Recipes Based on a Photo
So yesterday Apple did their periodic
circus presentation where they launched a bunch of new products, including a new iOS. And while Tim Apple didn’t discuss this feature in the presentation, the fine folks at TechCrunch noticed the above image on the iOS 17 teaser page, which reads “Find recipes for similar dishes from a photo” next to an iPhone showing a photo of two smoothie bowls along with 4 recipes for overnight oats and the like. The recipes are all sourced from reputable outlets: America’s Test Kitchen, Eating Well, Delish, and Real Simple.
I am…not sure this is a good thing. First of all, the key word here is “similar.” These are not the recipes for that specific dish. Second, I have been thinking about this for 24 hours and I have not been able to come up with a use case where knowledge of the user matches the ability required to complete the task. In other words, if you don’t know what a dish is called, will you be able to differentiate between a smoothie bowl, overnight oats, quinoa porridge, and the like?
Use cases I have considered:
Trying to make something off Instagram (or another social platform).
Identifying allergens in an unfamiliar dish.
Identifying dishes when traveling.
Ordering something good at a restaurant and trying to make it at home? I guess?
A friend also suggested some calorie-counting/dieting use cases but we don’t discuss such things here.
Each of these use cases have issues, which I hope are pretty obvious (search, translation, and other such options just seem easier to me? And the allergens thing seems like a hazard). But I think all of these issues speak to some of the reasons I am simply not concerned with AI and recipes, at least until we invent computers that can taste and touch and smell. A phone can look at a loaf of bread and identify it as bread. But a human expert can taste, touch, and smell the bread and say, “Aha! This is potato bread, it’s made with milk and commercial yeast. Could use more salt, though.” This dumb phone can’t even tell the difference between various types of breakfast bowls.
I don’t know. Am I missing something? Am I ancient? Is this a response to something the Kids are already doing? Yell at me in the comments, please.
BESTSELLERS This is a new-to-me metric: the American Booksellers Association releases specialty bestseller lists based on indie bookstore sales in categories like mysteries/thrillers, poetry, romance, and, obviously cookbooks. (They have been doing this since 2011, where have I been.) Anyway the most recent list is from April 19; your current top 3 are Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Keepers, Sweet Enough by Alison Roman, and Dinner in One by Melissa Clark, in that order. More as I get ‘em. [ABA]
Coming Attractions: José Andrés, Pamela Anderson, H Mart, Lebanese Baking, MALORT!!!
People of America!!!! Three book deal! Three book deal! Chef and humanitarian José Andrés and friend-of-the-newsletter Daniela Galarza to write three whole cookbooks together: Zaytinya, based on Andrés’s Greek, Turkish, and Lebanese restaurant; Essential Spain, what it sounds like, and José at Home, featuring recipes Andrés cooks with his family. (If y’all don’t subscribe to Daniela’s newsletter over at the Washington Post, you should!) Ecco, pub dates TBA.
I am surprised this hasn’t happened yet, actually: longtime vegan Pamela Anderson to write a vegan cookbook that’s “an invitation to the author's home kitchen and garden on Vancouver Island with plant-based recipe.” Voracious, Pub date TBA.
Mauren Abood, author of 2015’s Rose Water and Orange Blossoms, to write Lebanese Baking with Countryman. The book explores sweet and savory recipes alike, as well as traditional and modern versions. Recipe will include baklawa cheesecake, cardamom coffeecake, orange blossom madeleines, strawberry rosewater butter cookies, turmeric teacake, and za'atar croissants, and now I am hungry. Pub date TBA.
Jamaican-born chef Andre Fowls to write My Jamaican Table, a collection of “easy and traditional recipes.” Fowles used to be the personal chef for Bruce Springsteen! That has nothing to do with the book (I don’t think) but it is a fun fact. Artisan, pub date TBA.
I am excited for this one!!! Mely Martinez to write a follow-up to 2020’s The Mexican Home Kitchen, a book I have recommended to literally everyone who will listen. Rock Point, spring 2024.
And last but not least, as promised, the Malort cookbook. If you are unfamiliar, Malort is the national liquor of Chicago, an alcohol that is a combination amaro and dare that the writeup for this book says can be compared to "a forest fire, if the forest was made of earwax.” (I actually kind of like Malort? It’s been awhile since I’ve had it though.) Josh Noel to write Malort: A Love Story, Chicago Review Press, fall 2024.
As ever, Coming Attractions via Publishers Marketplace unless otherwise noted.
AWARDS SEASON The 2023 Taste Canada Awards short list has been announced! The 2023 James Beard Foundation Cookbook Awards winners have been announced! RecipeTin Eats by Nagi Maehashi won the 2023 Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year Awards! (An award that’s not just for cookbooks! That never happens!!)
A memoir, with recipes sourced from a long-lost Holocaust-era suitcase that belonged to the author’s mother. [San Diego Union Tribune]
What cookbooks can tell us about late-stage colonial India. [History Workshop via @raykris1/Twitter]
I have no idea if these are available in the US, but here are some Filipino cookbook recommendations (in English!) from the Manilla Bulletin. [MB]
Preserving the recipes of Cambodia, with a little help from a 1960s cookbook written by a princess. [Gastro Obscura]
On cookbooks as culinary tourism. [Alicia Kennedy]
Do you write in your cookbooks? I don’t but I do photocopy recipes and write on those, which go in binders. [WaPo]
WORLD RECORDS Agent Lisa Ekus officially boasts the Guinness World Record for Largest Personal Cookbook collection, with 4,239 titles. A challenge, to all of you! I am mostly interested in the “two-story, 18×36 addition…specifically designed and built this room for her cookbooks.” Goals, TBH. [Press Release]
That’s all for today. I am hoping to see paid folks on Friday, but I’m heading out of town for a memorial so I might miss this week. Regardless, see all of you soon. Oh! And thanks to everyone who came to my IACP talk earlier today. :)