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Someone's in the Kitchen With...a Laptop

My college roommate Meaghan, who's like a sister to me, started graduate school and moved back in with me recently. Our primary domestic habits include:

1) blubbering like idiots over my cat Phoebe and

2) fetishizing dinner

I daydream about dinner during the morning commute. I take mental stock of what we have left in the fridge. I ponder when I'll be home, and how much time I can devote to food prep. When I get to work, I send Meaghan an e-mail with a proposed menu. She's usually thinking about the same thing.

It sounds ridiculous, but it turns out such food-related musings drive a lot of traffic on the Web.
The word "chicken" is one of the most searched for words at around 4 p.m. on any given workday, according to Yahoo, which gets 1.5 million queries about food every day.

The top 20 food sites, led by Food Network and Kraft Foods, collectively have an audience of over 45 million every month, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

So now Yahoo wants in, and today launched a food site (called Yahoo Food, naturally.) It has a database of recipes, local search for dining out, chef bloggers, how-to videos, and things like nutrition information broken out the way you see it on food packages.

Just as it's trying to do on its other topical sites, Yahoo is incorporating all aspects of food into a clean, intuitive design, Yahoo Food's manager Deanna Brown told me. Existing sites tend to have a narrower focus: Some are gourmet sites, some are celebrity-chef focused, others are chiefly recipe databases.

Yahoo Food's page does remind me a little bit of the front page of the newspaper, with various features blocked off for easier navigation. And it comes with features that would cut out some extra steps in my routine, like being able to click to print a shopping list of ingredients from a recipe.

I've made some pretty regrettable dishes using recipes I've discovered on the Web, but I've also made some good ones. Yahoo's site keeps user ratings (which many other sites also do), and there's a place on the site where you can save your favorite recipes. The site comes with another feature that might come in handy, though I've never tried it: Yahoo lets you pose questions to the broader Yahoo community if you have a question about cooking.

The hope for Yahoo, of course, is to harness people like me, so I go there looking for chicken recipes and such, and so I look at their targeted ads designed to make me hungrier for a specific brand of something.
But here's a problem no well-designed Web site could solve for me: It's just not easy to type on a laptop with flour on my hands.

By Yuki Noguchi  |  November 2, 2006; 6:00 AM ET  | Category:  Yuki Noguchi
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

The title says so much. I get a lot of recipes from the net (80% success rate I'd guess). But I don't have a printer at home - only at work. So my laptop either stays on the kitchen counter or I scribble down the notes. I need to get smarter about this :-)

Posted by: MD | November 2, 2006 9:10 AM

I don't think die hard foodies are going to gravitate to Yahoo. One of my favorite sites is You can find just about anything you want there (or ask and the community will respond in droves). It truly has a great niche as a foodie social network.

Posted by: Amy Smith | November 2, 2006 12:06 PM

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