In the few years I've been downloading food-related apps, I've watched them develop from mere recipe archives and grocery-aisle guides to fully interactive media experiences.
I still take pleasure in opening a food-stained cookbook; I'm just happy to have greater access at my fingertips. The apps listed here, in alphabetical order, represent the best of what I've seen this year.
Free on the iPhone; coming soon to the Android and BlackBerry. In this app, more than 100 chefs including Wolfgang Puck, Thomas Keller, Michael Mina and Art Smith dish on their favorite restaurants in San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. You can also follow the chefs' Twitter feeds, enhancing the potential for celebrity chef spotting.
Drinks and cocktails
Free for iPhone; more than 1,200 recipes. Slick and simple yet sophisticated, this one comes from the folks at www.Drinks999.co.uk. It offers a range of concoctions.
$1.99 on the iPhone; more than 40 species of fish. This app shows you how to choose and prepare varieties of fish. No recipes, though.
Free on the iPhone and Android; more than 200,000 foods. Open the app and point your camera at the bar code of the food item you're interested in; within a few seconds, the app provides you with the item's nutritional information; lists warnings, such as "contains controversial artificial sweeteners"; and rates the product's healthfulness.
Great British Chefs
$4.99 on the iPhone or iPad; 180 recipes. Marcus Wareing, Tom Aikens and 10 other chefs (with 15 Michelin stars among them) guide you through some of their favorite menus. Has a voice-controlled page turner.
$3.99 on the iPad; 100 recipes. Private chef by night, app entrepreneur by day, Matt Shields lends his culinary expertise to a selection of dishes such as Oven Fried Chicken With Buttermilk Biscuits and Red Chili Glazed Cod. The app makes it easy to add ingredients to your grocery shopping list.
The Photo Cookbook: Quick & Easy
$4.99 on the iPhone and iPad; 60-plus recipes. This might replace the cookbook you keep by the bedside for inspiration. It presents recipes with artistic flair, akin to slot-machine reels.
Free and pay-per-use on the iPhone and iPad; six free "taster packs" of 72 recipes. Superstar chef Jamie Oliver follows up his 20 Minute Meals, undoubtedly one of the best cooking apps on the market. It features videos and basic-skills tips.
There's one catch. The app's basics are free, but to supplement its collection of recipes and videos, you need to buy "taster packs": 10-recipe collections whose titles include "Fast Food, Slow-Cooking" and "Classic Comfort Food," priced at $1.99 to $2.99.