Why are online recipes bad?

Why are online recipes bad? Jul, 30 2023

Unrealistic Ingredient Lists

Have you ever come across an online recipe with an ingredient list longer than a child’s Christmas wishlist? I know I have. As soon as I see a colossal list of ingredients, I’m out like a light; there’s no way I’m spending my Saturday afternoon hunting for exotic spices in four different supermarkets. I still remember the time Helen and I decided to make Raging Dragon Kung Pao Chicken based on an online recipe (it sounded so badass!). You wouldn’t believe the sheer number of sauces that went into it – I swear, half of them might not even exist on this side of the Earth. Online recipes, unfortunately, often lack a sense of the real-world shopping experience. Elbow-deep in overcrowded grocery store aisles, the average home cook doesn't have the time or the patience to source ingredients like "fenugreek" or "sumac".

The Great Photo Deception

Now let's talk about those dazzlingly professional photos that accompany most online recipes. It's the food equivalent of catfishing: the image promises a supermodel, but all you end up with is, well, not quite a supermodel. I'm not saying our cooking is hideous. It's just that living up to those photoshopped, professionally-styled expectations can kill a cook's spirit quicker than a fallen soufflé. And then there's the case of my daughter Nyssa's unicorn birthday cake. “Dad, I want the rainbow unicorn cake from Pinterest,” she ordered. If you've seen the result, you'd agree that my rendition of a unicorn looked like a psychedelic horse gone wrong. So, unless you're a professional food stylist in disguise, those pretty food photos can be more intimidating than inspiring.

Generic Serving Sizes

Servings – it’s a word that stirs a whirlwind of emotions in the kitchen. When online recipes state "serves four", I often wonder, four who exactly? Four petite ballerinas? Four rugby players? It's a conundrum. Set the table for four only to realize it could feed my son Alaric’s entire high school football team. Online recipes need to enumerate portion sizes better than "serves 2-4", which only leads to either overeating or having leftovers for what feels like an eternity. We once swore to live on paleo diet with the help of an online recipe portal – well, let's just say Helen wasn't too happy with the leftover paleo quiche for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a week straight.

Cooking Step Disconnects

I've often found significant gaps in online recipes when it comes to the cooking process itself. Overlooking a small detail, like the difference between diced and sliced, can be the difference between a culinary masterpiece and a dinner disaster. Precision is key in cooking, and that's where most of these recipes stump amateur cooks. I recall an incident where a recipe casually mentioned "fold in the eggs”, it left me wondering whether I needed origami skills in the kitchen. The unfamiliar terminology with the lack of proper context can foil even the best-laid plans, often resulting in something that vaguely resembles food.

Disproportionate Cooking Times

The last straw on the camel’s back of why online recipes fail us has to be the massively miscalculated preparation and cooking times. I've seen recipes state, 'Prep time: 15 minutes' when in reality, it takes 15 minutes just to peel and chop the garlic from my local farmer’s market. Just last week, an innocent-looking 'quick and easy' lasagna recipe took my better part of Sunday, showing me a new dimension of 'cooking time relativity'. Online recipes seem to believe that we all have the knife skills of Gordon Ramsey and the speed of Jamie Oliver, which sadly, isn't the case for most of us.

In the end, I'm not saying all online recipes are the devil incarnate, some are actually pretty helpful. But the next time you decide to take a plunge into the vast ocean of online cooking, strap on your skeptic goggles. Be prepared to sift through lengthy ingredient lists, monstrous portion sizes, and enigmatic terminologies, all while looking at mouth-watering pictures knowing very well that your dish won't look the same. Nevertheless, don't let these factors dampen your spirit. After all, the joy of cooking lies in the journey and not just the destination.