Thesifter.org is a Food History Database Created From 50 Years of Hardwork
Very little people can be accomplished enough to say the words “well, there wasn’t a PhD for the subject I specialise in, so I invented it.”
Barbara Ketcham Wheaton, a food historian, sure can. In fact, she said those words (not verbatim) in this interview with Atlasobscura, which I urge you to read if you’re interested in food history.
Doing food history is, honestly, quite a pain. There aren’t many good resources out there on the internet and you’ll most likely resort to digging old books in hopes of searching for one or two mentions of a certain dish. (Unless you happen to believe whatever shady sites tell you of course. Do people not source their information anymore?)
So you can imagine how useful TheSifter.org can be as a database with more than 130,000 data entries. Compiled from Wheaton’s 50-year long research of reading through a library of 5,000 United States and European cookbooks, it tells you the ingredients, techniques, authors, and section titles of whatever you search in the site. (Before these entries were uploaded to TheSifter, they were all on edge-notched cards.) Some of these entries date back to books more than a thousand years old.
Unfortunately, it still requires you to consult the books, so this isn’t a site for laymen, but a very useful tool for researchers. You can, say, use this together with archive.org’s open library.
Oh, and if you’re not happy that TheSifter only has data from US and Europe,
blame the rest of the world for not producing more food historians you can help by registering and becoming a contributor.