Searching for World Food Culture
by Lynn Kerrigan
As a rule, when I start pounding the keys hunting for food facts, recipes or history in my article research, I deliberately eschew the more popularly used and well known sites, not because they don't offer a myriad of trendy dishes and mainstream articles but because I'm eager to discover something new. Culinary jewels unknown by the masses of computer recipe hounds. Web treasures that extend beyond and offer more than mere recipe archives. I'm not often surprised when my search leads to convoluted URL's that tie the tongue as well as my fingers—creations of university students, lone ISP members and obsessed individuals eager to share their passion and expertise with others.
"To read about a country's cuisine instead (of) simply to go looking for "good things"; it is also better to know... by means of the recipes—the customs and the richness or poverty of a place, and the spirit of those who inhabit it. It is, above all, to participate in the symbolic celebration of the shared repast."
So opens "Global Gastronomer, Cuisines of The World"— the culinary creation of a Yale University PH.D student, Susanne Hupfer. The site's mission—devoted to food history and food lore of all regions of the globe with the goal of discovering, sharing and appreciating the diverse tastes of our world's people—is a mission accomplished.
I embarked on my journey into world food culture by selecting a region from the world map displayed on Global Gastronomer's home page, choosing Asia—expecting the usual arms-length links to Chinese food sites. They were there as were links to regions from Afghanistan and Bangladesh, Nepal and Vietnam. My choice of Bangladesh led me to a section of the World Hearth Circle of International Cooking, a web resource, that in itself, would have proven worthy of investigation. One international food-related hearth leads to another and so on down the line. The Bangladesh site was rich with food descriptions and regional recipes. I bookmarked it for later, more intensive study. The next leg of the journey had me jetting off to the topsy-turvy region of Australia and Pacific. Where else to find the legend and recipe for Pavlova, a light as air dessert named after Anna, the dancer? A chef from Adelaide is said to have created the dessert after he saw her dance—yearning to concoct a food as light and airy as her movements. A short jaunt to the New Zealand recipe and food link page (a Stanford University student site) gave me a more detailed account of the dessert and its origins along with recipes like the Hokey Pokey, a name I had previously only associated with a corny dance performed at American weddings.
Some links within Global Gastronomer, especially in the South American region, appear in the region's native language. And some provide glimpses into cultures and mores of people we often just hear about in the media. For instance, my globe-trotting landed me in Suriname, a region of the South American rain forest where the Maroons live and work among the frogs and cicadas. They like their fish smoked.
Discovering recipe sites on the web richly laced with culture and regional folklore offers multiple gifts for the seeker. Global shared repast invites understanding. We are the same. We all have to eat. Please share your favorite URL food sites with me. I will publish selected entries in a future Sleuth column.
Freebies for Foodies
—a publication of the Greek Food and Wine Institute
Here's an excellent little newsletter with news, recipes and event listings related to Greek foods. It's free to interested foodies. Call (212) 474-5588 or Fax: (212) 474-5196. Greek Food & Wine Institute, 825 Eighth Ave, New York, NY 10019-7498.
Feeding Little Mouths
Feeding Kids is a free electronic newsletter authored by nutrition expert, Connie Evers. To subscribe, go to https://www.teleport.com/~eversc/NFC.htm and click on Feeding Kids Newsletter. If you do not have access to the web, please send a brief message to email@example.com. Sponsored by 24 Carrot Press. Also check out the Nutrition for Children website.
Copyright © 1997, Lynn Kerrigan. No portion of this article may be reproduced for publication without express, written permission of the author.
This page created 1997 and modified February 2007