I asked my mom if she ever uses online cooking videos, and she responded without hesitation: “No, I know how to cook.” That shouldn’t have surprised me. Growing up, I must have walked by her bookshelf full of cookbooks, handwritten and hardbound, a thousand times, as I made my way to the table to enjoy a meal she crafted from memory.
According to a study done for “entertainment purposes” by Porch.com attempting to prove that Millennials are ruining the food industry, Baby Boomers, like my mother, have unparalleled cooking knowledge that later generations lack. Within this study, my generation scored poorly on identifying tools like a butter knife and a hand blender. In our defense, we are all so broke paying off our student debt we can’t afford to buy a kitchen tool that does only ONE job. We need tools that fulfill multiple functions. The study also found that Millennials don’t know how to roast a chicken, carve a turkey, or cook a ribeye to medium. If I am being honest, even with a chef for a mother, neither do I. What I do know how to do is how to search online for help. My favorite phrase to Google while I am cooking happens to be “Substitute for [fill in the blank ingredient]”. I am not about to buy an ingredient that I’m only going to use once in my life if I already have another on hand that will suffice (see comment above about student debt and unnecessary tchotchkes). If the searching and attempting to replicate fails, I can pick up the phone and call my Baby Boomer mother for advice.
Even though the analog is a popular medium for older generations, all ages are likely to get their recipes online. It’s the younger generations, however, that are redefining health, and putting the planet, and their curiosity, first when it comes to food. No wonder online videos are booming more among Millennials than anyone else! Two out of three watch online cooking videos and use their smartphones to cook.
Websites specializing in this format, like Jewlish and Buzzfeed’s Tasty, exist to provide simple recipes that increase confidence in their audience and inspire them in the kitchen. These videos are often under a minute and speed up at the less pertinent parts of the recipe—no one wants to watch water boil in real time. Not only are these videos visually satisfying to watch, they also succeed in teaching skills that can’t be taught on a 3 x 5 recipe card. Trust me, Pumpkin Sandwiches do not taste the same or as good as Pumpkin Rolls and reading about how to roll a roll is not the same as watching someone else do it online. I myself gain inspiration from recipes that show three or four different versions of one dish all wrapped up into a minute long video. I’ll be trying out one like this for Chanukah to create Rainbow Latkes out of beets, spinach, turmeric, and cabbage, and I’ll be using my smartphone *gasp* instead of a print out while watching the 54 second video on loop (see Jewlish).
So go ahead and lean that smartphone against your bag of flour as you unashamedly watch a video on how to make Pumpkin Spice Challah or Sufganiyot (both on Jewlish). Millennials, it’s time to show the world we are so much more than avocado toast.
DVORAH LEWIS IS A CONTRIBUTING WRITER TO JLIFE MAGAZINE.