Many channels, YouTube and Facebook, offer videos from cooking hacks –So Yummy or 5-Minute Crafts, to name a few. Viewed millions of times, these mini-clips highlight recipes that are easy to make at home with the means at hand. Tempting proposals for anyone who would like to prepare exceptional dishes in the shortest time, with few ingredients and no technical knowledge in the kitchen.
However, just follow them to the letter to realize that these tips and tricks do not work. In February 2020, BBC reporter Chris Fox took the test and documented it all in a video:
As you can see, many videos offer recipes that require the use of a microwave – a household appliance found in most homes. While it can be useful for reheating dishes, it is of little use when it comes to cooking, especially if the recipes were originally designed to be cooked in an oven. Not only are these videos, for those who try to reproduce them, a waste of money and a waste of food (preparations, failures, are very often inedible), but they also generate frustration and intense disappointment.
Getting behind the stove is a huge step for some people. Reproducing simple recipes is therefore an excellent alternative for cooking quickly, without taking too much trouble and obtaining satisfactory results. Except that these, obviously faked, cannot work in real life – and are therefore impossible to achieve.
This is demonstrated by Ann Reardon, food scientist and dietitian, on her YouTube channel called How To Cook That. She dissects these hacks and prove, sometimes with scientific data, why they can't work. But if these videos are just a bunch of nonsense, why are they so successful?
The companies behind these mini-clips make videos based on social media data and algorithms. Their goal is to make a maximum of content, which would meet the needs and requests of Internet users. By multiplying the publications, they feed the algorithm, which will put them forward: this will allow them to generate traffic and therefore pocket money, which will be reinvested in new videos. A circle that could be described as virtuous if all this was not done on the backs of those who, in their kitchen, are bent on reproducing recipes that have no simple name.
Videos of recipes that cannot be reproduced, disappointed internet users and lost time: the story could have ended there. But some accounts go further by providing simply dangerous advice. During our research, we came across a recipe for a grilled cheese sandwich to make with a toaster. We are advised to lay the appliance on its side to toast the slice of bread, and to melt the cheese. It's a no, at the risk of burning your apartment.
Another video explains how to make an omelet in a saucepan: beat the eggs, place them in a plastic freezer bag, and heat the latter in boiling water. Good idea? No: heated at high temperature, the plastic releases microparticles which will cling to food, which is highly toxic for the body and can ultimately increase the risk of cancer.
Last example of a completely absurd trick: dip strawberries in bleach to whiten them. Needless to explain why this is extremely dangerous.
In addition to these videos, other accounts (obviously followers of "fat is life") offer recipes presented as ultra-greedy, but which in reality are simply inedible. Some publications have everything of a vast joke: the ingredients are in turn fried, pan-fried and bathed in cheese (always). We are moving away from the easy tips, since here there are generally many steps before arriving at the finished product. A raclette-style pancake gratin, reblochon lasagna rolls (yes, yes), or sushi cakes: something to make any chef jump.
Democratize the kitchen, yes, but otherwise
The Internet is full of interesting resources and well thought out accounts. We have selected five, to consult without moderation, so that cooking finally rhymes with pleasure.
No Diet Club
Behind this Instagram account, Claudia and Anthony, a duo that focuses on gluttony (and comfort food). Here, no question of diet (hence the name), but flowing and melting recipes easy to make.
Learning how to make your own homemade ricotta, ceviche or focaccia has never been easier than with its ultra-licked videos.
The Social Food
In addition to being talented photographers, Shirley and Mathieu are outstanding cooks. Between two photos of their projects, they reveal chic recipes with Asian inspirations.
Sweet Potato Soul
Everything here is vegan. The videos, rather short, are simple to follow and offer malignant alternatives to animal proteins. Bonus: tips for introducing your child to vegetable cooking.
Epicurious and its “Basic Skills Challenge”
It's not a channel, but one of the Epicurious channel’s YouTube playlists. The principle is simple: ask fifty individuals to execute a technique or a dish – wash mushrooms, make mayonnaise or even fold a burrito. Guilt-free as desired.