A menu of tasty appetizers, courtesy the Web!

They say that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach - unless the man happens to be your friendly neighbourhood geek. In this case, nothing - not a parade of women in low-cut dresses or a seventeen-course banquet - will rouse him from his CRT-induced stupor.

Since we try to stay as far away from the portals of geekdom as possible, we'd like to take this opportunity to inform all the beautiful young women out there that we're very easy to distract - particularly if you add a bowl of fried calamari to the equation...

And just in case you have absolutely no clue what that is, don't worry - this time, we've pointed you to the best food sites on the Web in an attempt to tickle your palate. Take a look...

Mama Rose's Italian recipes http://www.angelfire.com/biz/mamarose/

Ever since Mario Puzo gave birth to "The Godfather", the Italians have never looked back. Every aspect of their culture and living has been followed with a great deal of interest - especially their cuisine. Although Italian food has always attracted the "pizza and pasta" tag, the Internet makes it possible to try out a much wider range of delicacies from the kitchens of Rome. Mama Rose's home page is one such Web site - it aims to broaden the perspective of Italian cooking with easy-to-follow recipes.

If you've ever wanted to know how to make exotic Italian dishes like mussels fradiablo and shrimp marinara, or sauces like Italian meat sauce and marinara sauce, this is the place. Recipes and tips are also available via email.

Cucina Italiana http://www.cucinaitaliana.com/

This Web site is devoted to the secrets and traditions of Apulian cuisine. Apart from the recipe of the day, you can also educate yourself about the nutritional values of virgin olive oil [yeah, baby!] and obtain advice from the in-house Feng Shui expert on how to create balance and harmony in your kitchen.

The Ultimate Chinese Food Site http://www.chinesefood.org

One of the most popular cuisines in the world has finally got itself a Web site. Beginning with a brief description about the various regions in China, it moves on to an in-depth explanation of the various methods of cooking - stir-frying and deep-pan cooking - and also provides a list of some of the spices and flavorings that are indispensable in the Chinese kitchen. And finally, there is a comprehensive list of recipes for appetizers, fish and chicken and meat preparations, not to mention the ever-popular noodles and rice [hey, we love this stuff!] and a collection of exotic desserts to end your meal.

Chow down, Down Under http://members.tripod.com/~damsel2_2/ChowDown.html

An award-winning Web site dedicated to real Aussie food, this one's for people inclined towards true-blue Aussie recipes. The recipes are mainly classified into two categories - main dishes and "tucker time". The former consists of mouth-watering lamb, meat, chicken and veal dishes, together with pudding and desserts, while the latter has delicious snacks, entrees and dips, together with soups and breakfast dishes on its list.

Favourite Spanish food recipes http://www.xmission.com:8000/~dderhak/recipes.html

All the way from the land of bull fights and matadors, here's a site dedicated to the culinary delights of the great country of Spain. While some of the content is in Spanish, popular recipes like those for tortilla de patatas also have English equivalents. Ole!

Turkish Delights http://www.cs.umd.edu/users/kandogan/FTA/TurkishCuisine/cuisine.html

Dying to cook mouth-watering Turkish cuisine in your very own kitchen? This site has a nice collection of dishes that form a part of the regular Turkish meal, including soups, salads, poultry, meat and kebabs. Desserts, pastries and Turkish rolls are also available, for those with a sweet tooth.

Bangkok Cuisine http://www.bangkokcuisine.com/

If you like to experiment with your palate, Thai cuisine is the way to go. Although this site has primarily been developed for a Thai restaurant in Florida, it does provide links to recipes and tips on Thai cooking, together with interesting trivia about rice, a staple on the Thai menu. It also offers some of its specialized products for sale.

Tarla Dalal On The Web http://www.tarladalal.com

This Web site belongs to the famous Tarla Dalal, an expert on Indian cuisine and the author of many books on the same. The site is neatly classified into main courses, cuisines and ingredients, and also comes with a search facility.

Lawrence Wheeler's Favorite Thai Recipes http://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/9632/thaifood.html

This simple and easy-to-navigate site has been classified into five categories, each catering to various aspects of Thai cooking. You'll find recipes on how to prepare your very own Thai curries, Thai sauces, Thai meat dishes and Thai salads and desserts. And for those who live by vegetables, there's also a link for vegetarian Thai food.

Diana's Gourmet Corner http://belgourmet.com/sitegb/index.html

Maintained by Diana van den Broek, a Belgian auditor in Antwerp, this site is a gourmet's dream come true. It started out as a hobby and soon snowballed into a comprehensive Web site for cuisines from all around the globe - including bizarre countries like Burkina Faso, Eritrea and Guinea-Bissau [anyone know where these are?!].

yumyum.com http://www.yumyum.com

Apparently one of the most popular foodie sites on the Internet, yumyum.com has an archive of over twenty thousand recipes! Along with a search engine which helps you zero in on your favourite recipes in minutes, the site also offers links to other useful sites like as Facts and Fun [a food trivia column], Gidget Cooks [the resident expert cook's advice column], the Cookbook Shoppe [an online book shop for cookery books] and tons and tons of other links. Bookmark this one today!

Epicurious.com http://www.epicurious.com

You've probably heard of Epicurious TV - well, here comes the Web site. This one is definitely a winner so far as variety goes - it has a very comprehensive collection of recipes, neatly classified by ingredient, cuisine, preparation method, occasion, and dish. As a test, we checked out the Indian section, and were pleasantly surprised to find an excellent collection of recipes.

Another useful feature is the search engine, which allows you to search the entire recipe database - so you can retrieve your grandma's age-old recipes even if you can only recollect some of its ingredients. Risk subsequent food poisoning entirely at your own peril.

The Global Gastronomer http://www.cs.yale.edu/~hupfer/global/gastronomer.html

Here's a site that should be bookmarked by every gastronomer worth his or her salt. A simple, no-frills Web site laced with the witty thoughts of famous authors, this site has a list of links that will make any mouth water. The links to sites related to vegetarianism are definitely worth a visit, and it also includes a clickable world map with links to recipes for different regions.

Yahoo's Food and Drink Collection http://dir.yahoo.com/Society_and_Culture/Food_and_Drink/Cooking/Recipes/

This may be overkill - but Yahoo has one of the largest collections of recipe directories and links on the Web. Check it out if you can't find what you're looking for anywhere else!

And that's it for this week. Till next time, stay healthy - and bon appetit!

This article was first published on 16 Jul 1999.