Nibbling your way through cyberspace
Have you ever gone surfing for your supper? It certainly beats ripping pages you will never read out of magazines or getting caught for hours on the phone trying to wheedle your granny's secret recipe out of her.
Browsing the Internet can offer anything from snippets from food films, magazines and E-zines to contacts with cooks you will never meet.
There are thousands of recipes, shortcuts to other food sites, interactive nutritionists, Internet sommeliers, calculators to convert weights and temperatures, and quick guides on what to feed the kiddies.
Below is a personal choice of my favourite food sites worth visiting. Just do not forget you have to stop surfing sometime and cook the dinner.
Epicurious (http://www.epicurious. com) Accessing this will give you Conde Nast's natty food magazines, Bon Appetite and Gourmet. The site features such things as a wine pick of the week from writer Anthony Dias Blue and a tasting panel plus articles like Etiquette: How To Eat A Mango Without Requiring A Bath Afterward.
But what is getting Epicurious so talked about is its whopping 7,600-recipe database with the additional luxury of being able to search by ingredient, technique or phrase. That is the theory, anyway - typing in mango got 98 very strange offerings, most of which did not seem to highlight the fruit.
Electronic Gourmet Guide (http://www.foodwine.com/ food) A superb multi-award-winning site, it is frequently updated and there is tonnes to read. Global Gourmet's FoodScape has a database of more than 1,000 recipes plus tips, reviews, cookbooks and interviews. Its worldwide slant means there is a Hong Kong page.
I liked Food, Family & Fun, which looks like a recipe card and offers ideas for school lunches, with nutritional breakdowns.
Singapore's Unofficial Food Page (http://www.sintercom.org/ makan/index.html) My absolutely favourite site. It has Balti cooking, a Philippino Gourmet Guide, news stories like '5kg durian falls on granny's head', Chinese Cooking In A Nutshell, a rundown of the world's best restaurants. There is the obscure (the role of mangroves in retaining penaeid prawn larvae in Klang Strait, Malaysia) and the disgusting (Insect recipes: Banana Worm Bread, Rootworm Beetle Dip). A grand total of 291 cracking Asian food links.
The Low-fat Vegetarian Archive (http://www.fatfree.com) You will not get snazzy graphics, just a list of recipes. But we are talking 2,541 in more than 50 categories, including really useful things like gluten and wheat-free dishes, plus links to other low-fat and vegetarian sites. What there does not seem to be is any nutrient data with recipes. There is, however, the USDA Nutrient database. Type in a food and it calculates whether the food satisfies the recommended daily allowance of nutrients.
Cheesenet (http://www.wgx.com/ cheesenet/index.html) This contains all you will ever want to know about cheese. It has a database of more than 100 cheeses from Asiago (Italy) to Gjetost (Norway) to Roncal (Spain). There are cheese links and diagrams on cheese-making.
La Choy Food Service (http://www.lachoyfood service.com) This site, courtesy of probably the world's most famous Chinese food manufacturer, has amazing nutritional charts, and heaps of lovely Asian recipes, although the names are a bit indigestible: Ah So Good Soup, Chinatown Wrap, Buddha's Best Bean Salad.
SOAR: Archives Of Recipes (http://soar.berkeley.edu/ recipes) There are two incredible things about this relatively unattractive, easy-to-use site: the 38,269 recipes in many sections, and the 53 ethnic categories. The Chinese food is probably the most authentic I found on the Internet and there are quantities of it. The kids' recipes section is a godsend (Cat Litter Casserole, Chicken Pox Pancakes) but I particularly liked the Baby Food, Gluten-free, Diabetes and Vegetarian Section.
The Internet Epicurean (http://internet.epicurean. com/latest/current) An on-line food magazine that includes the editors' featured menu (which links you to other sites) and is also great for its Chefs Forum, a recipe bulletin board which puts you in touch with cooks around the world.
Tokyo Food Page (http://www.twics.com/~ robbs/tokyofood.html) Very minimalist, very easy to use. If you are not sure what nabemono or yakitori are, or want to know whether you are now the perfect host for parasites after swallowing that last mouthful of unagi, look no further than the Japanese Speciality Cuisine section. There is also the Culinary Explorer with features on things like Microbrewery Beers (regional beers springing up all over Japan), the Sushi Multimedia Page and an extensive Eating And Drinking In Tokyo guide. Do not miss the article on Yokohama's hyper-noodle theme park.