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Much of my personal and professional time is spent in a little corner of the world where food and words, writing and teaching all intersect. For those of you who would like to visit or explore my very specific realm of obsession, here are just a few of my favorite resources.


The Cook’s Thesaurus has entries on thousands of ingredients, including photos, descriptions, synonyms and suggested substitutions.

Excellent produce seasonality charts were created by CUESA, the sponsors of the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Epicurious has a searchable recipe archive and an online food dictionary (based on the industry standard, Food Lover’s Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst).

The Food Timeline lays out the history of food from 17,000 BC to last year. Public reference librarian extraordinaire, Lynne Olver, gives tips on researching recipes and even offers a free email answer service for those who are stumped or short on time.

Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages is an amazing searchable database of aromatic ingredients used around the world. With a bent toward Asian cuisines, Katzer’s entries provide valuable scientific information and etymological background on spice plants. Especially useful are photos of both live plants and dried spices.

eGullet is a forum geared toward professional chefs and line cooks, including technique tutorials and discussion boards addressing the ins and outs of running a restaurant. Though not the easiest site to use (hey, chefs have better things to do than figure out user interface), it’s full of good information if you dig carefully.


Flashquake celebrates writing at its most intense, most concentrated. Short works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry all make the most of every single word.

Shaw Guides lists many of the major writers conferences and workshops in the Unites States.

Poets and Writers helps independent writers stay inspired by highlighting the more creative side of the their work while providing extensive support and guidance. As the largest nonprofit in the nation dedicated to creative writers, they also publish a print journal of the same name.

Writers Colony at Dairy Hollow offer retreats and fellowships dedicated to food writing. Their special culinary facilities include a state-of-the-art kitchen as well as a remote setting in the Ozarks for serious cooking and manuscript work.

The annual Greenbrier Symposium for Professional Food Writers is an intimate, inspiring gathering where editors and writers exchange thoughts on skills, trends and lessons learned. A big investment but worth it for anyone serious about a food-writing career. (Don’t mind the freaky setting--its history is half the fun.)

Dictionary.com has  long replaced my most worn reference books. I still hang on to the paper versions of the Webster’s, the American Heritage and even the Roget’s, but they’re far up on some dusty shelf. Who could argue with CleverKeys?

Recipes into Type: A Handbook for Cookbook Writers and Editors, by Joan Whitman and Dolores Simon, is a standard industry reference. Anyone trying to understand the difference between creating food for the plate and writing recipes for the page needs this book’s style guides, conversion charts and clear breakdown of the mechanics of a recipe.

Scrabulous is the only reason I joined Facebook.” Or so we all say.

The Amalgamated Printers Association somehow manages to embrace old curmudgeons loyal to hot metal and young designers enamored with polymer.

Briar Press is a community of letterpress printers, book artists and printing enthusiasts.

Libraries and Bookstores

The Alice Statler Library at City College of San Francisco is a working culinary library that’s open to the public.

The Culinary Collection at the Schlesinger Library, on the campus of the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard University, includes books on the history of food, gastronomy, the domestic sphere and the culinary profession.

The Peter J. Shields Library at the University of California, Davis, has special collections on agricultural, viticulture and enology.

Powell’s City of Books, my favorite bookstore, has an extensive cooking and food section.

New York’s Kitchen Arts and Letters is the nation’s largest bookstore dedicated to food and wine.

Books for Cooks in London tracks down obscure cookbooks from around the globe and sends them off again to the remote kitchens of curious, dedicated cooks.

Museums and Special Collections

The Food Museum Online is a website that highlights food history and food heritage.

The Exploratorium always has fun, informative activities under its Science of Cooking series.

COPIA, a.k.a. The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts, in Napa Valley curates excellent exhibits on the history and culture of food.

The Kimchi Museum in Seoul is dedicated to the national food of Korea.

Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware in Hong Kong displays both traditional and modern tea art as well as informative historic displays of tea culture, cultivation and trade.

The NY Food Museum offers exhibits on such topics as Jewish candymakers, cooking for the Lower East Side, and minorities in the food industry.

The  Historic American Cookbook Project has a digital gallery of historic cooking utensils.

Professional Associations

California Food and Justice Coalition

Chefs Collaborative

Culinary Historians of Northern California

International Association of Culinary Professionals

National Writers Union

San Francisco Professional Food Society

Women Chefs & Restaurateurs