Finding 'like' items

The technology of search has grown a bit in the last two decades. We used to search for exact matches, now we search for similar and related items. This poses an interesting problem in some cultures.

For instance, recipes in America typically contain a major ingredient in the name ('au gratin potatoes', 'key lime pie', and 'curly fries' come to mind). The ones that don't are made the same way by everyone, so you can find the ingredients list easily and then use that as a basis for related searches. But in Chinese cuisine, the name isn't necessarily useful:

1.1 Motivation
Chinese cuisines are famous for their delicious taste resulted from delicate cooking skills and variant adaptation. The need of learning those cooking skills on the Web has been increasing in China; yet current on-line recipe search or recommendation systems only allow users to query  by text, usually the names of the recipes. Unlike the names of western cuisines, which are typically constructed by ‘past participle (cooking action) + main/minor ingredients’, Chinese recipes’ names are often injected with more meanings and/or bear no relationship with underlying cooking actions and ingredients:

  • z Some recipes are given auspicious names in hope that people who eat those dishes will be auspicious. An example of this type of recipes is ‘Jin Yu Man Tang’ (金玉滿堂)ζ, which can actually refer to several recipes as long as their dish appearances mainly possess both colors of yellow and white: yellow represents gold and white represents jade, both mean wealthy. However, if searching this item on Google Search ψ, many words of blessings are retrieved, only few of these are related to recipes of this name.
  • Some recipes are given names by anecdotes, because they are said to be originated from some folktales. For example, ‘Kung-Pao Chicken’ (宮 保 雞 丁)  ⎯ a popular dish of Sichuan style ⎯ is said to be first made by Ding Baozhen’s chef and Ding was a late Qing Dynasty official. This dish was later named after Ding’s official title ‘Kung Pao’ (宮保) when it was handed down from generation to generation.
  • Some other recipes are given names simply by their appearance. For example, a recipe called ‘Hu Die Gu’ (蝴蝶骨) in Chinese means something like ‘Butterfly Bone’ in English. The reason for such an amazing expression is that the dish looks like several butterflies stopping on the plate. However, the correct name for this recipe in English is ‘Braised Spare Ribs’. If searching this recipe in Chinese on Google Search, among the top 10  results, nearly no results are related to the recipe.

This paper, then, discusses the details of searching for recipes and how to enable major searching tools to find relevant results when you go searching for "butterfly bone".


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