I suppose it’s no surprise that the internet would change cooking. Cookbooks are a type of book, after all, and one that contains recipes, which are hard to keep contained when there’s a whole internet out there perfectly suited for sharing them. Living or dying by a collection of cookbooks seems not only old-fashioned, but positively missing out on a better way of doing things.
What I’ve found myself doing is roughly as follows. I get some kind of notion in my head (I’m going to make ribs!). I search for recipes. I clip them all to an online notebook (Evernote, in my case), and I compare them. I see what aspects are common to all (remove the tough skin, dry rub, etc.), and I pick and choose from the other ingredients and techniques, depending on my tastes, whims and ingredients on hand (Tuscan Ribs with Mayonnaise and Mouthwash!).
I never dealt well with the perfection in cookbooks. I would inevitably miss some ingredient, or mistime something, or run up against badly written instructions, and the results would be mildly disappointing. This reinforced in me a sense that I should not stray from the written text. Cooking became about following orders with maximum precision, which is to say not fun at all.
This new internet way is much better suited to me. It involves research, and perhaps some dulling of novelty via averaging, but the results tend to be personal in a way that is impossible with the old way. Of course, that makes it fun. So I have been cooking tons more.
The similarities to music struck me. We have an old model where an official version of The Music exists; we buy it, and listen to it, and that’s that. When I google folk music lyrics, however, I soon realize there are no official versions, just many different takes I can choose from, which only encourages me to make my own version.
This is the part where I would share a recipe but doesn’t that go against my point? So go make your own!