Do all food bloggers secretly want a book deal? Because without fail, every time I look up a new recipe to make, I end up scrolling past a thousand-word essay about some food blogger’s beloved, great-great-grandmother whose culinary insights have endured generations after she personally back-stroked across the Atlantic to bring over flavours from the old country.
Well, now there’s a website that lets you skip all that preamble. Aptly named “Just the Recipe,” it takes any recipe URL and spits out a list of ingredients, estimated prep time, how many servings it makes, and step-by-step directions.
The site, which we spotted thanks to the good folks on Twitter, automatically sorts out the salient details, pun intended, from the needless word fluff. Since the system appears to be algorithmically generated, it’s not always perfect. A few times we tried it out, the site got its signals crossed and listed ridiculous amounts for some ingredients (it seems to have particular trouble sorting out ingredients that recipes typically leave open “to taste” like salt and pepper) but it was pretty consistent about picking up on all the important directions and putting them in the right order.
Still, it honestly might be my favourite discovery of 2021 so far.
Look, I get why food bloggers feel the need to write their entire life story just to tell me how to make a quesadilla. It’s about money. More specifically, search engine optimisation and ad space. They’re just out to please the enigmatic Google gods like everyone else who makes content online.
To catch the attention of the elusive Google algorithm and appear higher up in search results, recipe bloggers have to make sure their content comes off as a legitimate authority on the subject. How does one do that, you ask? That answer is one of the search giant’s most closely guarded secrets, but we know Google’s algorithm favours lots of keywords, outbound and inbound links, and, yes, rambling stories about how someone’s grandmother made her signature dish in the old country. Because the longer a recipe is, the more likely Google’s bots will assume the author knows what they’re talking about. And of course, longer pages mean more virtual real estate for advertisers to bombard you with their products.
But look, sometimes I just don’t have the time. I don’t care where you grew up. I don’t care what the weather was like the last time you made this. I don’t care that your kids are picky eaters but even they can’t get enough of this recipe. All I need to know is how to cook the thing.
So feel free to check out this site the next time you’re whipping something up in the kitchen.