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BITES : Just Me and My Sweet Potato

February 29, 1996|CHARLES PERRY

On Feb. 2, Vietnamese farmer Vo Nhu Da locked himself in his house with a 187-pound sweet potato he'd found several days before. "Hearing about the strange sweet potato," reported the newspaper Lao Dong Daily, "people came thousands of times to Da's house for a look, and so he had to take it into a room and lock the door."

Good News for the Larger Trout

For the first time in 25 years, advises the Michigan Department of Public Health, Great Lakes salmon are considered safe to eat because contamination from mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls and other chemicals has declined.

However, the agency imposed tougher limits on lake trout, advising that Great Lakes trout smaller than 22 inches can be eaten as often as one meal a week, but not by women of childbearing age or children less than 15 years of age, and nobody should eat one longer than 22 inches.

A Guide for Winefakers

Say you aren't knowledgeable about wine but you wannabe; you could get the "Wannabe Guide to Wine" by Jack Mingo (RDR Books). The cover shows a pseudo-preppy couple lifting their eyebrows dubiously over a glass of red, but in case you don't get the picture, the publisher spells out the book's purpose thus: "Why spend years studying wine when you can instantly gratify your ambition, impress your friends and humiliate those you don't care for?"

The funny bluffer's tips you'd expect--the pretentious adjectives to throw around and so on--are mostly located toward the end. The rest of the book is actually a short wine guide (very short, considering the $9.95 price; the whole volume only runs 93 pages) of the sort you'd be reading if you were actually spending those years studying wine. Only you're getting your information from the author of the Couch Potato guides and "How the Cadillac Got Its Fins" instead of Hugh Johnson or Alex Bespaloff.

In short, Mingo is sound on corks, OK on grape varieties, flaky on history, uncritical about claims of dangerous stuff in wine (only some asthmatics really need worry about sulfites; for the rest of us, they're what keep wine from spoiling in dozens of ways) and only sporadically funny. His best line: "Merlot is seen as Cabernet Sauvignon's slightly less clever brother." At book stores, or call the publisher at (510) 595-0595.

Truck Stop on the Information Superhighway

Latest Internet food madness: The Honeysuckle White Turkey company is sponsoring the world's--nay, the galaxy's--first Virtual Turkey Chili Cookoff on the World Wide Web.

You e-mail in your recipe for turkey chili by March 15, using the form at the company's Web site: By midnight, March 18, the top five recipes in the two categories (ground turkey and chopped turkey) will be posted there.

Then there will be actual tastings somewhere and the two winners will each get a trophy, $200 cash and other prizes. Their names and photos will be posted on the Web site and in "a permanent place in the Virtual Turkey Chili Hall of Fame." PS: The first 250 entries get Virtual Chili Cookoff T-shirts.

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