Everyone loves Chinese food. But not everyone knows how to cook it, especially in Sweden.
Enter Instagram account @AskCTFood. Take a picture of that mysterious chef’s special, tag @AskCTFood and "CT Food experts" will tell you what to buy and how to cook it (in Swedish). They even have images of the ingredients so you can easily identify "star anise" in the supermarket.
It’s a promotion for CT Foods—a company that sells Asian food in Scandinavia—and their new partnership, seeking a wider market in local grocery stores. The Instagram idea grew out of research on Swedish consumption of Asian food, according to one of its lead creators, Luong Lu. "Swedes love Asian food but they mostly enjoy it at restaurants," said Lu. "Swedes would love to cook and learn more about Asian food, but the lack of confidence and knowledge were factors that became obstacles in this process." Foodstagramming was a natural way to break down those obstacles.
Puzzling out specific dishes from photographs seems like a daunting challenge, but Lu says the main issue is the meat. "The hardest part that I’ve heard from the experts is to tell whether it’s pork or chicken or if an image is blurry," says Lu, "but then they kindly ask for a better one to work with."
For users, the biggest challenge would seem to be getting a response at all. Though Lu says they answer in anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours ("depending on how complicated the dish is"), he also acknowledges that they’re not supplying full recipes for every single query. They’re getting 10 to 30 submissions a day, but only posting one recipe. "We save the rest for future use," Lu says. "Maybe an online book."