According to a bunch of recently founded magazines for cooks, our stoves and hotplates are far more versatile than we have ever imagined. A fresh array of art lovers, avid cooks and food literati are investigating the eater’s universe from unexplored points of view. Here the debate is all about food’s cultural power.
Mainstream food press has always had its off-the-record counterparts: little players with a well-respected voice that for decades have been talking about food in their very own language. Think of Edward Behr’s Art of Eating, a subscription-only food writing milestone that since 1986 has been publishing its encyclopedia-like essays on rare ingredients and eating-centered culture. Or Darra Goldstein’s Gastronomica, a journal founded in 2001. According to its editor, Gastronomica reflects on the impact of what we eat through the lens of history, literature and culture using bold imagery and the contributions of sought-after writers.
If analysis and rare details guide the academic side of independent food press its more recent, less established half, is driven by contemporary culture. Brooklyn’s Put an Egg on It, Washington’s The Runcible Spoon, London’s Fire and Knives and the Canadian Acquired Taste Magazine, are just a few among the titles founded in freshly-born studios and amateur kitchens, that use food as inspiration.
For many of those titles, recipes are just an optional. Take Sasha Wizansky’s Meatpaper, a San Francisco based publication that evaluates critical thinking far more than any cooking tip. The magazine’s 18th issue is the first to deal with real food, shifting from its typical cultural essays to meat-centered stories about Italy’s bollito misto and Turkey’s kazan tipi.
According to the newly founded White Zinfandel, food is instead the perfect territory for art debate. Artist Jiminie Ha and the Leong architects gave birth to the publication over a dinner conversation, marrying what in a NY Times interview they defined as their two greatest obsessions: art and food. Playing with the TV Dinner theme, White Zinf’s second issue included mylar, paper and string sausage sculptures, Felix Burrichter’s ideal snack for watching Tatort (a popular German TV show) and several food-themed original artworks. Instead of the ingredient of the moment, White Zinf’s backcover was taken by the Art Basel fair.
What the offer at newsstands suggests is that food has never before been such a hot topic for independent editorship. It has never been approached from more disparate points of view either. For Kinfolk’s Nathan Williams, the social aspects of entertaining and eating where so inspiring that they became a quarterly magazine and a series of itinerant dinners - an idea that has grown enough to recently cross the ocean and reach Paris. At Kinfolk’s real-life events, creative caterers gather together with perfect strangers to prepare and enjoy lo-fi meals orchestrated by the magazine’s team and partners.
The many languages of conviviality are a mayor reference point for quite a few other titles as well. Brooklyn for instance, has Celestine Maddy’s “green thumbs on” Wilder Quarterly and Andrew Tarlow’s hole-punched Diner Journal: the first mixes gardening tips with inspiring chef chats while the second was born as the child of Diner restaurant’s community.