The other day I found myself in a cooking situation that’s fairly common: I had a few odd ingredients—some oxidized strips of bacon, a withered red pepper, a bunch of half-wilted parsley—and needed to use them before they went bad, but how? The cookbooks on my counter didn’t have an index in which I could search for multiple ingredients, and I didn’t have time to flip through all of the recipes for each ingredient in the hopes of a possible hit. So I popped them into Google, along with the search-term “recipe,” and in .31 seconds I had 2,830,000 hits and a variety of options, from a recipe for crispy potatoes on the Food Network’s website to Martha Stewart’s recipe for gnocchi. I opted for a cold tuna salad.
In her new book, Food and Social Media: You Are What You Tweet (AltaMira Press, 2012), Signe Rousseau begins her first chapter by reminding us just how uncommon my situation actually is and how that feeling, that sense that this is what I do, that nowadays this is what we do, is just one of the fascinating characteristics of our digitized food culture. Consider, for example, that 800 million users connect through Facebook everyday or that every week Twitter users generate a billion tweets or that there’s now a 150 million bloggers adding new content to the web everyday. With pith and insight, Rousseau looks at how this explosion of social media is changing not only how we view food, but also how we understand ourselves. (You can find Rousseau on her blog and on Twitter.)