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Rose Knows: Eat Your Books

Rose Levy Beranbaum - March 31st, 2014

When researching or searching for recipes, it seems a lot easier these days to go to Google rather than to start flipping through one’s ever growing cookbook or magazine collection. But how much better it would be to have one’s own personal search engine based on selected and trusted recipes in addition to a more general search. Sisters Jane Kelly and Fiona Nugent, originally from London and now respectively from Boston and Auckland, New Zealand, have created just such an extraordinarily useful site: EatYourBooks.com.

Jane and Fiona’s goal is to have every cookbook in the world indexed. They launched the site in 2009 with the most popular cookbooks, and now offer their data base to people who want to index their own books. (They proof these indexes before adding them to the general list.) At the present time they have 125,000 cookbooks listed, with 4,500 cookbooks and a million recipes indexed.

You can enter the name of a book and see a listing of the entire contents. You can also enter the author and access all recipes by that author, or search by a specific ingredient, or type of recipe such as “buttercreams,” and narrow down the search through detailed filters. You can even add a bookmark and note directing you to where in your location you have placed the book or magazine.

Twenty indexers from all over the world go through each recipe in a given book, in order, to harvest and input a complete list of every ingredient and to categorize the recipe in terms such as recipe type or cuisine. The recipes themselves are not given on the site, except for those already residing on the Internet by permission of the author or publisher. There are also links to videos.

One can access any of the indexes without being a member or signing in, however in order to add more than 5 cookbooks to your “cookbook library”—making it easier to personalize and refine searches—there is an annual membership fee of $25, which gives you the ability to add an unlimited number of books and/or magazines.

EYB is offering a trial voucher to Food Arts readers, which will allow full access to the site for three months for free. Use the voucher code FAM14 and add as many of your cookbooks, magazines, and online resources as you wish to create a searchable index of your recipes.