Waddling Toward the Holiday Eating Season

By: Charles Bowen

Once again, we’re all waddling toward the Global Eating Season — a period of pies and cakes, turkey and goose, eggnog and mulled cider. The challenge for newspapers? To make 2003 holidays read at least a little differently than all the food fests that came before. After all, there are only so many ways you can rewrite Mom’s recipe for mince pie.

So the Food Reference Web site should be the stuff of a features editor’s dreams. The fun and educational resource covers everything from food history and current recipes to clever culinary quotes, quizzes, humor and even food-related poetry.

Visit the site at http://www.foodreference.com, where the home page is topped with the food quote of the day (anything from Erasmus to E.B. White) and “Today in Food History” (“National Roast Pheasant Day,” “Emeril Lagasse’s birthday,” “‘Red Red Wine’ by UB40, hit No. 1 on the charts in 1988…”)

OK, you’re in more of a hurry? The left-hand navigation bar takes you to various departments, including food articles, facts and trivia, kitchen tips, recipes, books and reviews, cooking schools and so on. Of particular interest might be the link here to “Daily Food News,” which provides links to news about food, beverages, groceries, soda, agriculture and communities, fruit and vegetables, milk and dairy, poultry and eggs, and meat and grain.

If you have a little more time for browsing, click on the “Food Articles” link at the top of the navigation bar. The subsequent page has linked topics in alphabetical order, ranging from Apple Brown Betty and Animal Crackers to White Chocolate, Wild Rice and Watermelon.

The site’s search facilities, reached with the “Search” link at the bottom of the navigation bar, are operated through Google. Enter a search term or phrase on the subsequent search page. Note that you must click the “Search foodreference.com” button in order to search the Web site itself, otherwise your search will be of the entire Web.

Other considerations for using FoodReference.com in your writing and editing:

1. For planning purposes, note that the site routinely uses a section of its front page to cover upcoming events and meetings, such as gatherings of national dietetic groups, food makers and industry organizations. It also reports on promotional designations like “National Pickled Peppers Month” and “Vegetarian Awareness Month.”

2. The site also offers a free weekly e-mail newsletter. To sign up, click on the link in the upper right column of the introductory screen.

3. If you write about the site in your news columns or Internet features, you might want to alert readers to the fun and games sections of the site. For instance, the front usually has a culinary quiz and trivia. You can give more by clicking on the navigation bar’s links to “Crossword Puzzles,” “Facts and Trivia,” “Who’s Who,” and “Recipes.” I particularly like the “Poems and Humor” link. (“There was a young man named Perkins/Who was specially fond of small gherkins…”)

You can read the last 20 “Reporter’s Digital How-to” columns on our index page.

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