11 December, 2014

All the world's top chefs have planned your Christmas dinner

Melbourne Herald Sun, Thursday December 11, 2014

It has pride of place on the bench of so many a young family's kitchen. The cook book rack where the Margaret Fulton tome would sit open at that day's planned recipe. Only now it's not a book in its place but an iPad, or its clone. The recipe would be displayed as before, with bright coloured photo of what (hopefully) it will eventually look like.

It may be an actual Margaret Fulton recipe, or Jamie Oliver, or Nigella Lawson - or any of your favourite TV chefs, they all seem to have their own sites including the various Master Chef winners and their judges.

World wide there are hundreds of recipe sites, somewhere there's one for every taste and every nationality from gnocchi to spare ribs to Peking duck.

To this you can add the thousands of enthusiastic bloggers. Some have as much skill and character as the professionals; large numbers of them leave much to be desired and a queasy feeling in the tum.

But Australians appreciate their home cooking and are doing a lot of it, even if they also consume large quantities of take-away. But we are fortunate in having very affordable food. Our incomes have risen faster than prices. So the Department of Agriculture was able to report in 2012 that over the previous 20 years, while our incomes rose by 36 per cent, the spending on food only went up 13 per cent.

This is corroborated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics which reported that households spent 20 per cent of their cash on food and drink in 1984, yet 25 years later it was only 16.5 per cent. The popularity of eating certainly hasn't declined so it must be price. And that's even excluding alcohol.

Of course clever marketing joins the dots and you'll find a helluva lot of doodling in the recipe pages. I've talked before about the work Coles and Woolworths have done to develop their home delivery services.

Now Coles have taken it a step further, with the announcement of a new Recipe to Cart service. It's a marriage made in supermarket heaven: the blushing bride is Taste.com.au, the country's biggest recipe deliverer, claiming a reach of 6,277,000 readers and clickers per month between its website, magazine and newspaper lift-outs.

You choose your recipes, click the ingredients, they pass into the digital shopping basket and the next day they get delivered to your door. I wonder if there's another button you can click to deliver Curtis Stone or Heston Blumenthal to cook it up for you.

Christmas of course is a time when the nation goes extravagantly mad in its food buying. So it's an ideal time for Taste and Coles to launch this service. They have constructed a Christmas Menu Planner with lots of seasonal dishes based around products on Coles shelves.

Woolworths are fighting back with Jamie Oliver Christmas recipes, while Aldi and IGA have had their home economists toiling for months to deliver acres of appetising meals on their web sites.

So if you are one of our millions of keen on-line recipe hunters, rest assured that a very well catered Christmas has been laid out for you.

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