Back in the '90s, they said the Internet would change everything, and in many ways it has. But how has it changed the food scene? I'm not referring primarily to Chowhound.com, though this website has certainly made my world vaster and more fascinating. In my few months in New York, I ate at Burmese, Moroccan, Brazilian, Ghanaian and Egyptian restaurants I would never have known existed if not for Chowhound. Thanks to the Internet, if I hear the name of a foreign dish, I can find out what it is, its history, and how to make it -- and maybe even order it online.
Perhaps the most interesting effect of the Internet is empowerment. That's why most repressive regimes ban it; it's a threat to them. But how does this work in the world of food? Does it change what kind of restaurants open, the service, and the dishes they serve? Are customers more responsive to waiters' pet peeves? Does it affect food critics' reviews -- and their reputations? Before the internet, if I thought that the critically acclaimed Cafe Hoity Toity was a sham and a fraud, there was nothing I could do about it except tell my friends and family. Today I can tell the world.
You are reading this because of the Internet. You are a part of my life because of the Internet.