Everyone has one — a fanatic, food-loving friend (some of us have boatloads of them). You know the type. She (or he) already has subscriptions to Bon Appetit, Food & Wine and Cook’s Illustrated. She devours cookbooks like page-turning novels, and her idea of the perfect evening is curling up with a glass of wine and the latest issue of Saveur.
So what do you buy for someone who already has those magazines? Get them a highly focused, specialty publication — a food journal.
Here are five I recommend and why. The good news is this gift fits any budget because you can buy a single issue or, if you’re feeling generous, a full year’s subscription.
Paul Lowe is a highly respected and sought after food stylist based in New York City. A quick glance through his thick, quarterly magazine, Sweet Paul, and you’ll see why. Dreamy is the first word that comes to mind, followed by inspirational and then aspirational.
The tagline is “chasing the sweet things in life” and although much of the magazine is devoted to food, it also includes decorating and crafting ideas. Pictures are in soft focus and inviting. Recipes are gourmet but approachable.
Raised in Norway, Paul might be the Norwegian version of Martha Stewart, only I find his style far more appealing and chic. Sweet Paul might kindle your own inner homemaking, or at the very least, provide a blissful way to pass an afternoon, turning page after gorgeous page, dreaming of domestic shangri-la. (Single issue $18; 1 year subscription (4 issues) $60.)
CHERRYBOMBE is a bomb… at nearly 200 pages and weighing just under two pounds, it’s a hefty work of art. It’s also new, and prints only twice a year (issue 2 was just release). CHERRYBOMBE is a celebration of women in food, written by women, about women. I suppose guys can appreciate the high-quality writing and great storytelling, but I’m guessing the readership is largely women.
Each issue has a couple dozen contributors, including some professional chefs. In issue 2, Manhattan Chef Anita Lo (Anissa) interviews Brooklyn Chef Sohui Kim (The Good Fork) in a handwritten, playful banter. Multiple contributors make for a diverse collection of voices, and each story feels fresh and different from the last. Recipes are included if they fit the story.
As with Sweet Paul, imagery is important and the pictures are beautiful and compelling, but it’s the stories that make CHERRYBOMBE da bomb (sorry, couldn’t resist). (Single issue $18; 1 year subscription (2 issues) $40.)
If CHERRYBOMBE is slanted toward the female persuasion, Lucky Peach is the male counterpart. To be fair, Lucky Peach has women contributors and not all stories revolve around the Y chromosome toque, especially in the more recent issues, but this is largely a guy-written (and edited) magazine.
The brain-child of David Chang (Momofuku), writer Peter Meehan and Chris Ying (co-publisher of indie house McSweeny’s) the quarterly’s first issue, Summer 2011, was dedicated to ramen (speeding up the momentum of the ramen craze currently sweeping the nation). The trio has since covered American food, Chinatown, and the before-and-after of an imaginary Apocalypse (weird but it worked). Their “Gender” issue (slightly less than half for the ladies, slightly more than half for the dudes) generated quite a buzz.
Contributors have included Anthony Bourdain, L.A. food critic Jonathan Gold and food scientist Harold McGee. Irreverent in design, Lucky Peach is the ultimate foodie-hipster’s literary manual — and thoroughly enjoyable even if you’re not tragically hip. (Single issue $9 to $12; 1 year subscription (4 issues) $28.)
What began as an eight-page newsletter, The Art of Eating has fully matured into a 48-page literary journal of food and wine. Published quarterly by Edward Behr, one of the leading voices in food and wine writing in America, The Art of Eating offers a multi-course dinner of articles not covered by other print publications.
Behr and his contributors focus on “sense of place,” digging deep, down to the roots of a story. In-depth articles cover current — and timeless — topics you won’t find in other publications: moving stories about shepherd cheesemaking in the Tsakonia region of Greece; Chinese cooking techniques of velveting, deep-frying and stir-frying; recipes suited to Chablis; contemporary restaurants in Montreal; and book reviews of books you’ve might or might not have ever heard of, but suddenly want to read.
The Art of Eating is less about imagery (although there are many high quality photographs in each issue) and more about the words. In today’s world of sound bites and blurbs, it’s stimulating to soak in a good story and learn something new. (Single issue $13.50; 1 year subscription (4 issues) $52.)
Gastronomica is a serious, academic food journal. Published since 2001 by the University of California Press, it is the leading intellectual literary journal on food and culture. Stories are born out of the intersection of food and culture, often looking at one through the eyes of the other.
Long-form food journalism is celebrated in several of these specialty publications, but it is the crux of Gastronomica. Heavy-hitter contributors cover stories on American food policies, global food issues, and other social and economic issues related to food. Lest you think this is dry reading, it’s not — and not every article is wrapped in weighty reverence. While there is never a single piece of fluff, some stories touch on lighter topics, such as an interview with a current renowned chef, or a personal essay explaining the unlikely joy of angel food cake.
The writers may have academic backgrounds, but they are storytellers at heart. Gastronomica will quench the thirst of the thinking food lover. (Single issue $12.99; 1 year (4 issues) subscription $53.)
Here’s to happy shopping (and reading) this holiday. Cheers.