Food for thought 

An Internet junkie's guide to great gastronomic reads

God, I love the Web. I'd be a salty soul without my DSL. My work hours were mostly spent in restaurants through the '90s, so I came late to the Internet culture. I remember the first day I took an office temp job and a co-worker showed me how to log on to Yahoo. Hello, so this is what the fuss was all about! Instant access to just about anything I could dream up -- links to fan sites of "Moonlighting" and "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd," a guide to cussing in French or a crash course in Hindu deities.

And food. Scores and scores about food. Over the years, some kick-ass websites for the culinary-minded have come into existence. Below are a few of my favorite URLs when I'm in the mood for a little brain feed.

www.chowhound.com

The first thing you learn at this site is that a chowhound is not a foodie. "Foodies eat where they're told," goes the intro patter. "Chowhounds ... blaze trails, combing gleefully through neighborhoods for hidden culinary treasure." The main draw at Chowhound is the message boards. Though it's based in New York and Atlanta is unceremoniously lumped in with the rest of the South, you can find astute postings here that may lead you to some interesting, under-explored grub in the ATL. Poke around the rest of the site for fun links and a heart-felt ode to Quisp cereal.

www.egullet.com

This site looks busy and is a little intimidating at first. There's a mighty long list of articles and topics on the front page. I suggest two approaches: Either scroll down and just click on the first thing that catches your eye, or look for the Announcements box on the right hand side of the page for discussions in progress. Luminaries from the food-writing world frequently contribute to eGullet. My favorite is Jeffrey Steingarten, food columnist for Vogue, who answers questions ranging from "What would your final meal be?" to "What's your favorite infrared thermometer?" with intelligence and deft wit.

www.sautewednesday.com

Here's an incredible resource for the hardcore food readers: a collection of links to most of the major newspapers, food magazines, recipe resources and food blogs around the country. Hmmm, I just noticed that CL isn't listed among the newspaper links. I'll have to e-mail site publisher Bruce Cole and remedy that.

www.foodtimeline.org

Yep, this is exactly what it sounds like: a protracted timeline that covers the gamut of food through the centuries. Ever wonder what the Vikings ate? Where they make watermelon beer? What the latest products developed by Kraft are? (Well, scratch that last one). This is an incredible site to just get lost in for an hour or so, filling your head with facts about Hot Dutch Tuna Buns and Lady Baltimore cakes -- things that you don't need kicking around up there but are fun reads nonetheless. The best part? If you're curious about a topic that isn't listed, you can e-mail editor Lynne Olver and she'll research it for you. Next time I have a burning question on the history of blood oranges, I know where to go.

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