‘The cook’s tour’

The Internet can even help you in the kitchen.

When personal computers first came on the market in the early 1980s, enthusiasts would often spend hours at parties telling mainly uninterested listeners all about the wonders of the microchip. This was before the days of word processors, when computers couldn’t do much more than entertain people who liked to write programs. Meanwhile, the bore at the party would go on, and on, until asked the key question by a practically-minded person: “That’s all great stuff, but what will you DO with your new computer?”

The answer, of course, was simple: “Well, you could put all your recipes in the computer, and, uh, you’d have them all there…”

A PC next to stove is still a rare site, but the computer has proven itself as a key component of a chef’s equipment. The Internet provides cooks both amateur and professional with a vast repertoire of recipes and food information.

According to Michelle Ramsay, a Toronto chef and food writer, the curiously-titled “epicurious” website is among the best of thousands of websites devoted to those popular pastimes of eating and drinking.

Epicurious offers more than 6,000 food recipes and 0 drink recipes, along with sections on table manners, a “Letter from France”, food dictionary, and indexes for the popular Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines. Ms. Ramsay notes that what sets Epicurious apart is a recipe builder, where users simply type in the ingredients they have on hand. Enter “salmon” and “rice” , and you’re instantly presented with a variety of recipes from around the world. The best part? You can print out the recipe, and avoid all the hassle of dragging your computer into the kitchen.