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Gobbling Up With The Semantic Web

By   /  November 21, 2012  /  No Comments

It’s time to get semantic with your Thanksgiving meal – or what’s left of it. To that end, we toured some semantically-powered foodie services to get some ideas about what to serve up for the big day. Maybe you’ll even find some things you just may never have considered without some semantic web services making it easy to pinpoint to your tastes (literally) or nutritional concerns, or that let you bring to the table the latest delicacies getting high-fives on the social web sentiment scene.

Here we go:

  • Google. For some Thanksgiving-ers, it’s simply off “to the Google,” as the dear family member in charge of our celebration says, to suss out recipes that have been marked up with rich snippets or schema.org microdata. Tired of the same old green bean casserole and plain mashed potatoes each year? Narrow the search engine to its recipes focus and you’ll find a few choice nuggets of Thanksgiving’s best vegetable side dishes – the traditional ones are there, like Martha Stewart’s garlic mashed potatoes (for a bit of a twist) and, yup, the tried-and-true green bean casserole. But you’re not likely to have thought of a pickled root vegetable salad before, courtesy of Cooking Channel TV, are you? Be prepared to set aside an hour and thirty minutes, though, to make it happen.   Take potatoes and green beans out of the ingredients picture, throw in a cook time of under 60 minutes, and you may find some options that move you a little outside of your comfort zone without taking too much of your time – Martha Stewart’s cornered the market on the top search results here, with choices like spinach-and-cheese puffs and glazed carrots with orange and ginger. Or, in just under an hour you can try a beetroot, goat cheese hazelnut tart, brought to you by Ingredients,Inc.
  • Martha Stewart Living. Speaking of Martha Stewart, there’s a reason that the hostest with the mostest takes top spots in Google search results. At this fall’s Semantic Web Technology & Business Conference in NYC, attendees had a chance to hear about how Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia started bringing semantic technology onboard begining with recipe searches, with the help of schema.org markup. (The story is here.) Heading right over to MathaStewart.com can keep the holiday spirit moving, with a slew of purportedly-easy-to-make Thanksgiving main meals. There are the easy turkey recipes, of course, but you might find more adventure in exploring the turkey-free main dishes, like a roasted Cornish hen with grapes or beef tenderloin with fresh herbs and horseradish. More intrepid cooks can find unique Thanksgiving meals that don’t seem to be quite so simple to make – whole roasted salmon with orange butter glaze, anyone? – but if you’re saving time on the vegetables, why not go for it?
  • Yummly. Yummly, which last redesigned its site and launched Yummly Advertising that integrates contextual ads from brand partners (see story here), helps you keep in mind vegetarians, pescetarians, vegans, those with gluten and tree nut allergies – and even those who prefer their meals to be affiliated with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter or Wish-Bone – as you prepare your T-Day feast. Or, if you’re looking to take a walk on the sweet side of the holiday, set the sweet scale rating up and see if cider-basted turkey with apple gravy from Epicurious isn’t the right match for you. More the savory type? How about a southwestern turkey with garlic-ancho chili paste and gravy? Vegan choices, for some reason, call forth fixings associated with the traditional main dish (like a deep-fried turkey marinade), but also some holiday cheer – Thanksgiving jello shots seem an interesting way of finishing off the meal.
  • Edamam. The service, which The Semantic Web Blog covered here, has an intriguing idea for leftovers for a fairly low-cal follow-up to the main event: Sichuan-Style Hot and Numbing Sliced Turkey. The food-ontology powered site extracted the recipe from Serious Eats, mapping the contents of the dinner it gleaned through its NLP and machine learning functions to come up with 237 calories per serving. Hopefully the markets won’t have sold out of the hot chile oil, chinkiang vinegar and toasted ground Sichuan peppercorns (which you’ll need to pick over for twigs or black seeds) by the time you get there on Friday – those ingredients are always the first to go in the Thanksgiving meal-prep rush.

  • Punchfork. Here’s a service with an interesting take on the recipe sector – it uses conversations on social networks to find the recipes users are passionate about, uncovering, it says, “the latent sentiment in sharing patterns on social networks” to find the highest-quality new recipes from popular sites. And one of the items that as of this writing had more 100 Facebook shares was A Cupcake Lover’s Thanksgiving Turkey – a little something from The Cupcake Project that calls for stuffing the bird with cranberry cupcakes. Interesting, but maybe, just maybe, this cupcake thing has gone a little too far?

Then again, maybe not. Thanksgiving is about honoring old traditions and making some new ones, too, so cranberry cupcake stuffing might just become your hand-me-down recipe.

Hungry yet? Here’s wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!








About the author

Jennifer Zaino is a New York-based freelance writer specializing in business and technology journalism. She has been an executive editor at leading technology publications, including InformationWeek, where she spearheaded an award-winning news section, and Network Computing, where she helped develop online content strategies including review exclusives and analyst reports. Her freelance credentials include being a regular contributor of original content to The Semantic Web Blog; acting as a contributing writer to RFID Journal; and serving as executive editor at the Smart Architect Smart Enterprise Exchange group. Her work also has appeared in publications and on web sites including EdTech (K-12 and Higher Ed), Ingram Micro Channel Advisor, The CMO Site, and Federal Computer Week.

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