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Published: Saturday, 6/15/2002

What's cooking on the Net? Good food sites

BY TOM GEARHART
BLADE FEATURES EDITOR

Want to whet your appetite in a big way? Look no further than Food Site of the Day.com, a destination containing hundreds of sites, presented one weekday at a time. It's devoted to discussions, opinions, ideas, customs, and preparation techniques, plus a food dictionary, a U.S. crop map, an amazing timeline tracing the history of food from 17,000 B.C. to the present, and what certainly amounts to several hundred thousand recipes from around the world.

Among the links are some that boast their own links to a staggering number of other sites. For instance, Chef2Chef.net - which calls itself not just a site but a “culinary portal” - boasts a database of 280,000 recipes, as well as dozens of pages offering advice from chefs, a chat corner, tips exchange, and “mishaps and horrors.” The site is so visually topsy-turvy that you'll have a hard time deciding where to alight.

The studied chaos of Chef2Chef stands in stark contrast to the look of the mother site, Food Site of the Day, which seems content with an understated listing of daily and previous sites - no boasts, no flashing ads, no sweepstakes contests.

Its mission is stated simply (“From hunters and gatherers to gourmet e-commerce, we are on a wonderful journey of learning and tasting”). The only decorations are the little food sayings that occupy the margins. Example from one Willi Hastings: “Eating an artichoke is like getting to know someone really well.” Another, from A.A. Milne: “What I say is that, if a fellow really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.”

You can sign up for daily e-mails notifying you of spotlighted sites. Meanwhile, Food Site of the Day includes a category chock-full of previous sites that, when printed out, comes to eight full-size pages that discuss food in all its variations.

Browsing the list, you'll come across an entire range of culinary interests. Among the mix of sites: cooking classes at a “gourmet retreat” in Napa Valley, Calif.; the American Diner Museum, with pictures and menus from dozens of nostalgic diners across the country; rice porridge, soy bean milk soup, and other Chinese breakfasts made at home or bought from street vendors; London restaurants, Irish cooking, French cheese, and 87 articles (and counting) at Salon.com, all celebrating the joy of cooking and eating.

Also, sumptuous New Orleans food as prepared by chef Paul Prudhomme; eating in Italy; a Vegetable Encyclopedia; how to roast your own fresh coffee; all about rhubarb, and mushrooms, and spices, and pasta, and the foods of Puerto Rico, and recipe sites galore.

In addition to Chef2Chef, the recipe links are many and varied, including a famed site called SOAR (Searchable Online Archive of Recipes) now located at RecipeSource.com, offering some 70,000 recipes; RecipeHound.com, with six pages brimming with worldwide recipes, many involving chilies; 101 recipe links; RecipeLink.com, and Recipe Site Review, listing recipes by country of origin and ranked by quality.

One of the most entertaining sites presents Olde English recipes from a 15th century cookbook (there are pictures of the pages). The recipes might be worth cooking up if only a medieval translator were at hand. As for example:

“Take Borage, Vyolet, Percely, Yong Wortys, Bete, Auance, Longebeff, myth, orage an ober, pyke hem clene, and caste hem on a vessel, and boyle hem a goode whyle ...

http://www.foodsiteoftheday.com

If you have a Web site to recommend, send an e-mail to tgearhart@theblade.com.



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