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Hacker Chow

October 27, 1994|CHARLES PERRY

"Giga Bites: The Hacker Cookbook," by Jenz Johnson (Ten Speed Press; 1994), reads like a wheeze but has a terrible air of authenticity--a lot of computer freaks really cook this way. The only utensils called for are spoon, bowl, can opener and microwave. All recipes are basically snacks, mostly dips (e.g., chopped-up day-old hamburgers moistened with ketchup and mayonnaise); more substantial snacks include Chinese leftovers lasagna (using pretzels for the pasta) and French fries and ketchup soup. Sour cream, mayonnaise, onion soup mix, beef jerky and Cheese Whiz appear to be the fundamental ingredients of the cuisine, and espresso jolted up with instant coffee powder the primary beverage.

Johnson justifies these bloodchilling dishes by noting that if a hacker makes $40,000 a year and spends 1 1/2 hours making meat loaf and mashed potatoes, the effective cost of the dish (ingredients plus hourly wage rate) is $28.85. Meanwhile, "oinkers" (deviled ham, sausage and Canadian bacon on bread, zapped in the microwave), taking 10 minutes, work out to only $5.21. For hackers, the logic may be unassailable.

The Internet Isn't a Thing, It's a Process

We own a book called "The Complete Guide to the Internet." We own a book called "The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Internet." Neither has proven to be enough. For the last time, the really, this time we're sure, really correct World Wide Web address for the Hot Hot Hot hot sauce catalog is http://www.hot.presence.com/hot/ (the final slash mark is optional for some users).

Might Make an Interesting Sandwich, Though

Dashi , the Japanese fish stock, is made from dried bonito. Or is it? It turns out that to an ichthyologist, the fish it's made from--skipjack--is a true tuna, while bonitos are merely close relatives of tuna.

Dried tuna! Omigod, we've been eating dried tuna! The FDA must crack down on this gross mislabeling!

It's a Recipe Collection! It's a Music CD! It's Both!

Musical Meals is a whole new direction in multimedia--a series of music CDs with appropriate recipes. The chefs are certainly top-drawer. The CD for the cocktail hour has recipes for spiced cashews, citrus-marinated chicken morsels and the like by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, with accompanying music by Dean Martin, Peggy Lee and their like. The Cajun volume--zydeco and Dixieland music--features recipes by Emeril Lagasse. Alice Waters did brunch dishes (Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington), the Southwestern volume is by Dean Fearing (Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, Los Lobos), and Roger Verge did French cuisine (Piaf, Chevalier). Available at Tower Records, Sam Goody, Musicland, Pier 1 . . . and Williams Sonoma.

CARE Coffee

"Starbucks is North America's leading sponsor of CARE, contributing $200,000 to our organization annually," says Jennifer Dunlap, vice president of the international charity. One way it supports CARE's relief to places like Rwanda is the CARE Sampler, four pounds of coffee (Kenya, Guatemala Antigua, Sumatra, Estate Java), of which Starbucks donates more than 20% of the purchase price. CARE applies 93% of all resources received directly to overseas aid and development programs. At Starbucks coffee stores.

Brit Tea Prob

American tea companies are having a tough time selling the English on the idea of iced tea. In England, cold tea is something you throw out. One tactic: carbonating it, so it doesn't seem like tea , really, but a sort of wacky American soda.

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