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I Have Taken a Lover, the iPad

The One (Who Brings Me Love, Joy, and Happiness) likes to joke that I have a boyfriend: my Apple laptop. His comment, wrapped in a crackling tempura coating of snark, is usually lobbed my way if my surfing squashes one of our regularly scheduled activities, like betting on which people featured on “Antiques Roadshow” will fake excitement when auction estimates of their family treasures don’t live up to their expectations. Although I hate to admit it, when the computer blinkers are on, it’s like a stolen glance from across the room. Suddenly I’m sucked into wormhole after wormhole of technological eye candy, bewitched by the pixel, lost in the throes of m4v grandeur.

I’ve been hearing this you-have-a-boyfriend rant for years now, ever since I bought my first laptop in 1993. And if The One’s comment is true, then my past is littered with all sorts and sizes of boy toys: the hairy brute with tats on his arms and legs (my G4 desktop tower), a dandy with a penchant for bright colors (my tangerine iMac G3), and my current fascination, the sleek, handsome, and understated silver fox (my 17-inch MacBook Pro).

But if my laptop is my boyfriend, then my iPad is definitely my lover. You know the kind—that slender iTalian in a black Armani suit who has a gun-slinger walk, is just a tad bit louche, lights your cigarette by bringing it up to his, and haunts your reverie years after the last time you tumbled out of his bed.

I was on the fence about buying one. Renee, our deputy editor, and I went to the new Apple Store on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and after several minutes of fiddling with it, my conclusion: It’s just a big iPhone that doesn’t make calls. But considering I made such a public to-do about computers in the kitchen, I figured I better get one and see what it could do. So I bought the cheapest model, the one with no extra memory and no G3—something I’d never done in my 26-year infatuation with Apple, and which I now regret—and loaded it with apps.

For our first tryst, though, I wanted it naked: just me, it, and a recipe. So I pulled myself away from the games (although I’m utterly addicted to Angry Birds, Words with Friends, and the NY Times crossword puzzles). I ignored the reader. (I know I’ll be considered the devil’s spawn, but I love it. I don’t care if I never hold a real book in my hands again.) And I forgot the movies, music, and GPS. I wanted to see what this sexy little number could do in the kitchen.

I decided upon the ultimate chocolate chip cookies from this site. Of course, before our orgy of chocolate began, I insisted we be safe—so I covered the iPad in a computer condom (i.e., plastic wrap) and put it right in the middle of the action, among the sugar and flour canisters, eggs, butter, and vanilla bottle.

The first thing I did was let it entertain me. Kind of like pole dancing, but for techno-cooks. I pressed play on the embedded video and watched myself come to life and teach two very energetic TV hosts how to make the cookies. Then I ripped through the recipe for the six-thousandth time, effortlessly scrolling down, enlarging the text with a simple diagonal swipe of my thumb and index finger—no fumbling for reading glasses any longer. Then the real test: Oops! Look, I plopped flour on the iPad. Holy go to war! I spilled sugar everywhere. Jiminy Cricket! I cracked two eggs on it and then tipped them into the bowl of the mixer. Oh, no! I accidentally dribbled vanilla extract all over my face in the video. The plastic-wrapped iPad took everything I could literally throw at it and came through unscathed. What a stud! I lifted the new kitchen savior from the countertop war zone, unwrapped it, and slid it back into its ultra-slim case.

It was pure, utter, unadulterated cooking cybersex. If I smoked, I would have lit up.

I’m convinced: The iPad is the new iTBoy, or iTGirl depending upon your predilection, of the cooking world. Imagine bringing it into the kitchen (or for that matter the garden, or workshop, or craft room [do people really have craft rooms?]) and letting it bring digital cookbooks or magazines to life with rich, full-color images, streaming video, captivating audio—all instructing, coaxing, and seducing us in the mysterious ways of the kitchen. And just think of the hundreds of books this marvel of a machine can hold. No more searching through bookcases for that favorite cannelloni recipe. No more pages stuck together with crusty egg whites.

This isn’t the wishful thinking of a dewy-eyed Applict (an Apple Addict). Between you me and the beauty parlor wall, I’ve been told that a major NYC publisher is planning to publish not only a hardcover version of an upcoming book by a “play-ah author,” but also an iPad version, complete with all the photos from the book, plus tons ‘o video and audio. Yes, you heard it here first.

A week after our liaison on the countertop, I’m positively smitten. During the day, while working on my now huge, frumpy hausfrau of a laptop, I wear a secret smile, knowing I’ll soon be able to steal a few minutes with my iPad. Oh, what love triangle have I wrought?