No recipe database. Are you serious?

Le cuisinier parisien, book of Antonin Carême

Apparently there are no recipe database available out there. And by database we intend  “a collection of information  organized in such a way that a computer program can quickly select desired pieces of data”. This definition highlights the main property of a DB, i.e. each piece of information is separately labelled, as bottles in a winery.

This must sound a frustrated post… but it is! Moreover, looking around there are some stuff, but it is generally written in HTML (to be read in a browser evidently), but this sounds so old. What about using a pretty classification in XML and then dynamically build a web page on top of this piece of information? I am not talking about weird thing: this is commonly done on Internet, almost in every page you visit (if they don’t use some more advanced technique).  This is even true for for commercial DB. So I ask: Why to pay 300$ (minimum) for a DB that is of no practical use? The truth is that commercial databases are no more than a web page embedded in a Access file. (translation: don’t waste your money, crawl the web).

I have the feeling that the food industry is really far away from IT. Once, chef Jaume Biarnés told me that there isn’t a web page that professionals can consult. Internet is the Paradise of free expression, so everyone is writing his own blog about cooking. This is wonderful, but this also means that for the professional user there is nowhere to consult a standard version of a classical recipe. Professionals of food industry modify  standard recipes in astonishing ways, but they need to consult what the “fathers” said in order to improve it, and this needed piece of information should be the same for every cook, so they can start from a common ground and use the same language.

Before the WWW era, there were books that were classical, used in every cook school. Chefs can cite them right away,  build on them,  and communicate from this common language.  Spanish cuisine took off in the last 20 years because of communication between chefs and information sharing. But it was before the WWW era, which apparently has still its progress to do in terms of clear and quick information sharing.

About Alexandre Albore

Alexandre likes to cook and to eat. After obtaining his PhD in Artificial Intelligence on Automated Planning, he now works on aerospace applications of AI. Alexandre lives actually in Toulouse, France. Google+
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