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September 09, 1998|RUSS PARSONS

Curating Favor

Barbara Haber, the best friend a cookbook could ever have, has been awarded the $5,000 M.F.K Fisher Award by Les Dames d'Escoffier, a professional group for women in the food industry. Haber, curator of printed books at the Schlessinger Library at Radcliff College in Massachusetts, is the architect of one of the country's most important collections of books on food. The library houses some 14,000 volumes, including all of the unpublished papers of Fisher herself.

Drunken Treasure

Talk about cellar conditions: A shipment of some of the best wines and spirits of the early 20th century was on its way to the Russian army in Finland when the boat was sunk by a German submarine in 1916. After locating the wreck several years ago, treasure hunters have rescued 200 cases of 1907 Heidsick Champagne and are offering them for sale.

The wine was stored more than 200 feet deep in the frigid Baltic sea, and "French experts who tasted some of the champagne recovered earlier have rated it exceptional and ideally preserved," the sellers say.

Alas, the same could not be said for the barrels of Bisquit Cognac. It was "badly fermented and gave off a foul odor. [It] may have to be treated to be made drinkable."

Still, at $3,000 a bottle, the Champagne alone could net the finders more than $6 million.

But They're Only 35 Cents a Pound in Rotterdam . . .

Comparison shopping for fruits and vegetables in your own neighborhood is a cinch. You simply drive from store to store to find the best prices. But to be really thorough, you need the Internet. How thorough? Go to http://gnv.ifas.ufl.edu/~marketing/market.html and you'll find out.

The Web site--a market information system administered by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Food and Resource Economics Division--allows you to compare the wholesale prices of fruits and vegetables in markets all over the country. Indeed, all over the world. Not only can you compare the price of plums in Atlanta and Seattle, you can find out what they're going for in Poznan, Rotterdam and New Covent Garden as well--all in U.S. dollars.

As if that weren't enough, through its archive offered on the same page, you can compare today's prices against last week's, last month's or even 10 years ago.

In fact, this could be considered one of the Web's definitive sites: endlessly fascinating for the truly obsessed but in the end--since almost no one buys at wholesale--virtually useless.

eGG in One Basket

Three of the Internet's leading food sites--globalgourmet.com, foodwine.com and the granddaddy of them all, the electronic Gourmet Guide (eGG)--have merged. They can now be found at the Global Gourmet, http://www.foodwine.com/

*

Charles Perry is on vacation.

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