These magazines show that recipes need not come from famous chefs to command interest, or that an invitation to think about food doesn’t necessarily mean to think about eating it. It was magazines like these that piqued my interest in food writing — how boring to describe tastes, and what a challenge to illuminate cultures with the food people eat! Some of the topics are so niche that you wonder how the magazines survive. A few have indeed closed shop, but I hope the others will beat the odds, for they expand our imaginations of what food can mean. It can be a weapon to protest against status quo, it can be an entry point to discuss inequalities, or it can be just food, ordinary in taste but rich in memories.
Now in it’s ninth issue, this booklet-magazine contains short pieces of food memoirs. These are stories of people whom the conventional food magazines consider as the nobodies — the ordinary men on the street — but the emotions in each piece are so raw and so riverting. While there may be a couple of heart-wrenching read, be prepared for a good laugh at some of the hilarious food memories.
Like the previous magazine it has many food memories to share, except that they each come with a recipe. By inviting you to taste their food, the writers are inviting you to partake in a moment of their lives.
I don’t care for the Kinfolk-like aesthetic but I appreciate the anthropological and historical approach in their food features, like addressing how carrots hadn’t been prominently orange before the 16th century, and discussing maize’s domestication and cultivation in Mesoamerica. It has since rebranded, now a “travel and style” magazine, but you might still find its older issues in magazine stores.
A magazine of art and ideas about meat. It compared old and new school butcher shops, interviewed the designer who sewed Lady Gaga’s meat dress, and in its final issue in 2013, discussed about the future of meat with a food historian. Yes, this magazine publishes no more. I include it here to establish that there is much about meat to talk about — at least 20 issues-much.
It is most similar to the mainstream food magazines but it has none of the product placements and chichi dining recommendations. Instead, there are more musing on the different styles of New England baked beans or the superiority (or not) of cultured butter.
I laughed at their handcrafted sleds and German-made leather tool case features, but their how-to guides (how to chop a stack of wood, how to build a backyard farm) are quite an eye-opener. That said, I wouldn’t rely solely on their words if I really want to build a farm.
It is run by women and it tells stories about professional women in the industry. It has extensive interviews with famous food personalities such as writer Ruth Reichl (above), and Judith Jones, ex-vice president of Knopf Publishing who batted for Julia Child’s manuscript that became the famous Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The rest of the magazine is of the same spirit: celebrates women who grow, make, style, and enjoy food.
A magazine about Houston through the eyes of people who live, eat and breathe food. Every issue revolves around a theme, such as migration, which covers a resident’s discomfort with the term “ethnic food” that usually describes cuisines of non-white people, a story about the Vietnamese immigrants’ struggle for better lives in the Gulf Coast’s shrimping industry, and a photoessay of Houston’s Chinatown. It is both personal and technical — my preferred recipe for a food magazine.
I tend to save the best for the last. This is a London-based magazine that focuses on the role of food as an art form for social criticism. It features the works of artists like John Baldessari who, through a series of food-selection exercise, question the concept of taste, and in a different project, cuts out the heads from the images of people breaking bread together, to draw attention to their body languages and the gender politics taking place. The Gourmand also did an interview with Milton Glaser about his food column in the 1960s, and publishes commentaries on recent food events such as horse meat eating. The magazine predictably stylised foods like chicken feet and chocolate, sometimes involving cats, but like a Dadaist artwork, some of them do provoke new perspectives of these everyday objects.