Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How Jacques Pepin will change ebooks

My hero is the French-born American chef Jacques Pepin.  I learned knife technique by watching him chop, slice, and dice.  When he chops, his knife is a blur.  In his hands, a cucumber goes from whole to slices in two-point-three seconds.

On an episode of one of his shows, he uttered the line, "Cooking is an expression of love."  At that instant, he became my hero.

Jacques Pepin got me interested in cooking and in cooking shows.  I love 'em.  The Food Network is my favorite channel.  My favorite TV star is Alton Brown of Good Eats.  And I loves me some Jamie Oliver.

That's how I came to watch a cooking show with two cougars (40+ women) cooking recipes from an Indian cookbook.  These women must be rich.  You gotta have serious money to stay that thin at that age.

The gimmick is that  1) these two have never cooked Indian cuisine before; 2) they are going to prepare four dishes from recipes in the cookbook; 3) two chefs from some 'world class' Indian restaurant in New York City will come to taste the resulting products and give their opinions; and 4) the cougars recommend (or not) the cookbook.

They read the recipe for nan, Indian flatbread.  The recipe called for 'five to six cups of flour.'  They did not know what that meant, so they measured out five and a half cups.  They produced a wet, sticky dough that they kept adding flour to in order to work it.  In the end, they let the dough rise for the prescribed length of time, sprinkled it with poppy seeds, and baked it on a stone in an oven.

All the while, the brunette cougar -- the other was blonde -- said over and over again, "There's no picture [of what the nan was supposed to look like at that stage of production]."

That's when I had THE IDEA.

Wouldn't it be great if the cookbook had embedded video?

One of the keys to making nan is to stir in one direction only.  So it was written in the cookbook.  A one-minute video illustrating the right way and the wrong way would add much to the reader's understanding.

Alton's Brown show Good Eats is running collection of cooking videos. 

And Jamie Oliver.  Can you imagine a Jamie Oliver cookbook with embedded videos of him showing you how to do each step?  I can.

Which device is best for video cookbooks?

The Kindle is not.  I enjoy it for reading, but it does not do video.

Can't say if the Nook is.  Never seen one.

The iPad is perfect for cookbooks with embedded videos.  Set one up on a kitchen counter in a bookstand and go!

Then I had a cascade of GREAT IDEAS . . . which I shall save for another day.

1 comment:

  1. My better half adores Jacques Pépin, too! Often, I'll wander past his TV viewing spot, only to see Jacques chopping away. He's amazing.

    He's also a huge fan of Alton Brown. Brown will actually hook me in and I'll often find myself perching on the edge of a piece of furniture, only to settle in for the long haul.

    I don't have the chef gene (though I do most of the cooking); only the SO has that one!

    You're absolutely right about the embedded videos. It won't be long before some clever cookbook publisher comes up with this idea, and revolutionizes the home "test kitchen." Many people have TVs where they cook, so theoretically you could watch what the TV chef is doing, but you have to either buy a cookbook with the recipe, or jot it down quickly while they read out the ingredients (usually at breakneck speed, probably to encourage you to buy the book). (Yeah, there's PVR -- but you don't want to gum up your remote controller with sticky fingers.) Or else the recipe is behind a pay wall, as with America's Test Kitchen -- which I like because it delves into techniques that make everyday dishes fabulous. (And I'm usually cooking everyday dishes.)

    What would be ideal: embedded videos responding to voice prompts ("go back to recipe," "stop/forward/repeat" etc.). The computer would do that best, and the iPad is the ideal size.