with food, there’s always something new

Good Karma

Everyone nagged me to get a mobile phone. I’ve had them before, but I’m not a phone person. They’re an unnecessary hassle, something to lose, a wasted expense.

A week ago Friday, though, I drank the kool-aid. Along with 999,999 kindred souls throughout the world, I signed up for Apple’s new 3G iPhone. News coverage made it sound like a digital tsunami-people waiting in line for 12 hours, activation problems, system crashes, trouble with iTunes, the list goes on and on.

I experienced none of that. Yes, I waited 20 minutes in line, but I was in and out of the store in less than an hour. Activation time, five minutes tops, with no hitches or glitches. And by a stroke of luck, or good karma, I got the last phone in the store.

A new gadget is like a kitten or puppy. You adopt your pet, take it home, play with it for hours, and marvel at every cute, silly thing it does. Then off you go to the pet store to buy a collar, some food, catnip or a rawhide bone. You don’t just buy the basics, you pick up a 5-tier cat perch or pewter St. Assisi ID tag for the pooch.

iPhoners went shopping at the virtual reality equivalent of PetSmart.

Apple’s AppStore is an online big-box warehouse of iPhone applications, minisoftware programs written by third-party developers. A few apps improve or enhance iPhone’s features, but most of the 800+ apps are games and toys.

iPhoners managed to download 10-million apps from AppStore last weekend, in spite of activation problems and system crashes. I was no exception.

What was I looking for? Foodie stuff, of course.

There’s not much (yet). Apple markets iPhone to young, male, technogeeks (best sellng app, Super Monkey Ball) so don’t expect recipes from Epicurious or globe-trotting food adventures from Saveur.

Still, there are some possibilities.

1. Urbanspoon. New York Times food writer Frank Bruni gave the restaurant locator a mixed review.

After I downloaded it, it wouldn’t work for two days and is still unreliable, but it’s fun and uses iPhone’s GPS and accelerometer (motion sensor technology) to locate restaurants in a clever way.

2. Wine apps. I found three, Wine Log, Wine Snob and WinePad. Prices range from $2.99 to $4.99.

3. Cocktails. With over a thousand cocktail and mixed-drink recipes, this app is smart-alecky, show-offy. Chicago Tribune’s The Stew says  “Cocktails – much like its namesake – is pricey: $9.99. But the convenience, and the thoroughness, can make you laugh.”

4. Diet and nutrition. There are several, but I recommend Restaurants and Nutrition (free). It gives nutritional information for national chain restaurants and allows you to track your caloric and nutritional choices. By syncing to, you can customize your database.

Apps like FatWatch, Diet, Calculate Points are food logs, but so is Weight Tracker, which is free.

4. Organizer apps. Pick and Choose Groceries ($4.99) lets you point and click food items to create your grocery list.

5. iBeer ($2.99) No, it’s not a log for beer geeks. It’s a beer!


I vowed I’d only download free apps, but this one’s tempting.

As disappointed as I am that there’s no food-news aggregate or Chez Pim How-to-Find-the-Best-Pad-Thai-In-Bangok app, the iPhone is custom made for food lovers.

In a few weeks, I’ll be sniffing Indiana tomatoes in full season and squeezing eggplants. I’ll close my eyes and imagine making spiced eggplant salad. Then I’ll panic, what all goes into that salad?

I’ll flip on the iPhone, click on Amateur Gourmet and find it.

Written by Susan Gillie

July 19, 2008 at 9:11 pm

Posted in food as fun

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