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Gourmet, the magazine that brought us Junot Díaz’s “He’ll Take El Alto,” David Foster Wallace’s “Consider the Lobster,” and Daniel Zwerdling’s “A View to Kill” has plans to resurface this fall. Gourmet Live, as it’s being called, will be different. On one hand, there’s no paper involved. On the other, Conde Nast says the site will be offering more content than most magazine apps.
While more and more magazines might be headed towards digital content innovations aimed capturing the massive amounts of food-centric user-generated content on the internet, there’s a bumper crop of smaller, lesser-known publications, many of them independently produced, that are dedicated to producing high-quality food writing on paper. And hopefully these magazines won’t be going away anytime soon. Here are my eight favorites:
The first issue in November, 2008, traversed Scandinavia, Iceland, and Greenland. While the issue anticipated the rise of New Nordic cuisine with a profile of Rene Redzepi, chef at Noma, the recently crowned world’s best restaurant, the twice-annual, hard-bound magazine isn’t about celebrity chef chasing. It’s exceptionally well-designed pages cover food experiences outside the world of foodie-ism, often in places well off the beaten path. The last issue crossed Asia via the Trans Siberian Express, including marmot hunting and Moscow’s culinary scene. Editor James Casey says Mexico is next up.
When former Guardian food writer Tim Hayward briefed contributors on the inaugural issue in November, 2009, he told them to write like amateurs about something they loved. The end result is an antidote to mainstream food publications. The quarterly comes on uncoated, matte stock and features engrossing essays, timeless graphics, and the occasional parody, all gravitating around tea, Indian food, and other distinctly British passions.
Sasha Wizansky and Amy Standen are both open-minded former vegetarians who wanted to address our ideas and conception of meat, the very bedrock of masculine Western culture. Their San Francisco-based magazine launched in 2007 and has devoted its bloodied pages entirely to the sometimes-strange subject of edible flesh—afterbirth, blood sausages, testicles, bacon, pork, and the trials and tribulations of farming oysters in Point Reyes National Seashore.
A special nod goes to this academic quarterly as the source of inspiration for this blog’s name. Edited by Darra Goldstein, an expert in Russian literature, the journal publishes esoteric, scholarly, and personal essays. Increasingly, the 10-year old publication pairs academics with exceptional photographers. It’s everything from the history of hippie cookbooks to an entire issue on Julia Child. So whether you want analysis of the Third Reich’s caterers or an explanation of cod sperm, this title lends an air of cerebral authority to just about any subject.
Mark Firth and Andrew Tarlow opened Diner in Brooklyn in 1998. Then came Marlow and Sons. Their mini restaurant empire has grown and now includes this slim quarterly—with three-hole punches near the spine for safe-keeping. Its hand-drawn illustrations and loving essays have all the sincerity and lightheartedness of a zine, but it’s more than just a toy for Williamsburg hipsters. The farmers and butchers they write about are worth meeting, and all the recipes are checked by chef Caroline Fidenza.
Edward Behr, the man behind this long-running, ad-free quarterly, once reportedly fought with a woman over the historical origins of bread, an incident that reflects both the passion and principles that go into each issue. Published out of his home in Vermont, the so-called foodie version of The New York Review of Books, has in-depth features on far-flung and often obsessively researched topics ranging from clamming on Massachusett's Block Island to roasting coffee at home.
This Melbourne, Australia, magazine developed a four-sleeve picnic rug (you'll get it when you see it) in collaboration with a Berlin fashion firm fixXXed and its inspiring first issue in early 2010 explored the similar conceptual links between food, community, and creativity. The biannual publication has also featured, so far, anarchist gardeners, mutant lemons, and a New Zealand clam dig.
Since 1983, John Thorne has been putting out this remarkably simple and insightful newsletter from Northampton, Massachusetts. If you’ve read his books, like A Serious Pig, Outlaw Cook, or Mouth Wide Open, you'll see that they all stem from these erratically published dispatches. Thorne has a knack for being an intensely readable recipe writer and a relaxed instructor who makes you want to create simple, easy-to-cook meals at home.
And a bunch of other favorites:
This sweet crafty quarterly follows the long-running project between two friends who live 3,191 miles away from each other in Portland, Maine, and Portland, Oregon, including homespun tips on arts, crafts, field trips, and kid-friendly fudgesicles.
Twice a year, this little, pocket-sized magazine showcases food fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.
For curd nerds and rennet neophytes, this quarterly magazine offers an accessible introduction to the craft of cheesemaking.
What started with the Ojai and Cape Cod editions has spread across the country. While the various regional titles can be hit or miss, they offer local stories for locavores.
The so-called Robb Report of food magazines often covers topics you won’t see elsewhere, like the only U.S. distributor of licensed wild game and geeked-out columns on equipment and kitchen science from Dave Arnold.
While this isn’t exactly a magazine, here’s some manga for you. The most recently released installment of the narrative comic explores izakaya, edamame, and other Japanese pub food.
That exclamation point is meant to say, “Enjoy this ‘zine like you would a dinner party.” Ralph McGinnis and Sarah Keough put together this slim, funky volume from Brooklyn and printed it on incongruous green stock.
Launched in Brooklyn in 2009, Remedy riffs off style community cookbooks to explore various themes. And bonus, their website is devoted to hangover remedies from the home kitchen.
Even if you’re not really going to farm with horse-drawn tillage tools, this broadside is really one of a kind.
For a publication that celebrates fast food, this high-concept, high-quality magazine from Paris offers way more than either Ronald McDonald or Rachel Ray.What other food-related magazines do you read?