"How Cooking Videos Took Over the World" - NYT

Gift link here.


The issue with food videos of all types is they center appearance, not substance. Ingredients, technique, proper cooking methods, balance, complexity {or sometimes the lack thereof} are factors that enter into the final delightfulness of a dish.

None of which plays on video.

And the dining segment of YouTube/TikTok play into this. The constant one ups of fat and rich ingredients, the way certain trends take over the genre {smash burgers driving out more steaky burgers} all, again, do not measure anything and certainly do not yield the ‘best of’ any category. In fact, YT and TT drive a narrowing of the range of foods shown. You can see 20 videos of smoked pork shoulder and nary one for things like pork shanks & cheeks, or beef shin.

This is similar to the Robert Parker/Wine Spectator 100 point rating scales which narrowed the range of wines to point-chasing characteristics. And yes, while there are some channels that reject the hype {Chinese cooking demystified comes to mind}, they are the exceptions. And the wineries making quirky wines are a drop in the bucket of banal crap dominating the market today.


Thanks for the gift link.

I think those videos are more about food than cooking, and to my perspective mostly about showing as many high-calorie animal products as possible in a single dish. I don’t find it appetizing at all, but obviously people do.

I’m finding the same downward trend in food blogs as well: for SEO reasons, each recipe includes a life story, a blow-by-blow with photos of boiling water, and a recipe at the bottom after serious scrolling past all of that plus Amazon affiliate disclaimers, a bio, and sidebar ads. And usually the recipe is mostly-stolen and kinda trash when you make it.

I’m almost entirely cooking out of cookbooks these days, and am interested to compare recipes for identical dishes through the decades - recipes from even the 1980s usually only require a handful of ingredients and not a lot of time. Modern takes on the same require dozens of ingredients and lots of time. It’s no wonder people do not cook 3 meals a day, for most days of the week. Between our modern, complicated and expensive recipes, and blog ad-focused screeds, and our TikTok non-recipes, we’ve left a lot of people feeling like they can’t adequately and easily feed themselves…!


To your first point, about people finding these extreme (in one way or another) recipes “appetizing”… I think the opposite is true. As in all social media, it’s interaction/reaction that’s rewarded and valued. People are literally making careers out of filming the dumbest, grossest “recipes” possible and they don’t for a moment believe the results are appetizing. Nor do the viewers/reactors. If fire is the only thing the algo sees and rewards, people start rubbing sticks together.