How the Internet Taught Me How to Cook

The most complex thing I’d ever cooked before about two years ago was a microwave dinner. My parents never showed an interest in the culinary arts, so I’d always scoffed at the idea of spending hours in the kitchen. However, when I moved out on my own and then got married, I began to see the value of a nice, home-cooked meal. I am no Stepford Wife, but I love that a delicious meal can bring people together and make a house feel more like home. I began to research cooking, but had no idea where to start.

Then I discovered, a site where recipes can be uploaded by users and reviewed by those who try the recipe. There are recipes for virtually any kind of food or preparation, and the reviews are an easy way to evaluate whether a recipe is worth trying. I have found that the user reviews and comments allow me to discover variations that others have tried (including spices to add, substitutions for ingredients that work well, and preparation variations).

As a very amateur cook, this online community has allowed me to 1) find the best recipes quickly and easily, and 2) learn from the wisdom of more advanced cooks who actually know what they are doing. I almost never make a bad meal, and while I’d like to attribute this to some kind of innate cooking talent, my prowess is mostly due to the excellent resource that is this website.

In the past, I think many people learn to cook from their parents or grandparents– recipes and tips are handed down through the generations. I think this is a wonderful practice, and I am keeping a recipe book with all my favorites (and my own spin on the recipes I find online) to give to my children when the time comes. But the internet certainly makes it easier to cook well, to use the wisdom of the crowd to figure out what recipes work best and which ones are duds.