A new generation of food magazines are blurring the distinction between art and food. These highly curated publications seek to explore new ways of thinking, writing and presenting food. In contrast to the glossy temptations of Gourmet Traveller, the aesthetic of the new food magazines is decidedly matte, both in paper and intention. Food is seen as a metaphor for a range of human activities and this frees it to be explored through many approaches, some of which have only a marginal relationship with food. Below is a snapshot of some recent food inspired magazines.
Cereal: In Pursuit of Food and Travel
Cereal is a new magazine with the first edition published late 2012. It is a substantial publication and structured like a book and includes six chapters with headings such as Copenhagen and Carrots. The aim of the editors, based in Bath in the UK, is to explore subjects in-depth, and allied with beautiful imagery and design to create a magazine which can be read and re-read. The format works with a combination of historic overview of selected foods, recipes, personal stories and interviews. For example, the chapter on matcha, a powdered Japanese green tea, has detailed article on the history and ritual of making matcha, a story about a tearoom in Bristol that specialises in matcha and a recipe for a matcha cake with ginger and lemon.
The photography is beautiful and the layout clean and it looks damn fine lying on the coffee table.
Cereal – available from Scrumptious Reads, $20.00. www.readcereal.com
Gather is another substantial publication designed to sit on your shelf for some time. Printed in the US, it is seasonal and recipe based, with the first edition coming out in the Northern summer 2012. The journal follows the courses of a meal with chapters from Amuse Bouche and Cocktails through Starters, Mains and Desserts. The final chapter is on Salt and covers the many types and uses of salt as well as recipes for salty treats such as peanut brittle.
The recipes are accessible and show influences from Asian through to Middle Eastern and includes starters such as oysters with a summer vinaigrette and shaved asparagus salad with poached egg. For mains the stand-outs were grilled pomegranate chicken and steak and caponata. Gather is a great addition to any recipe library, but for Australian cooks, we will always be a season behind (or ahead) when the issues are released.
Gather – available from Scrumptious Reads $25.00. http://www.gatherjournal.com
meatpaper has been going for five years and is the most established of the new food journals, though it often has only an elliptical relationship with food. Unsurprisingly, the focus of the magazine is on meat, and to reinforce the love, many photos of meat. There is much to find out about meat with Issue 18 including articles on making bollito misto which is a medley of boiled, fatty meats from Northern Italy, Hungarian sausages, and for the adventurous, a recipe for a Turkish custard dessert made with chicken breast. To counter balance the meatiness, there is four page spread on the national dishes of the world. Australia’s, was predictably, the meat pie though our near neighbours in Papua New Guinea are much better off with mumu, a dish pork, sweet potatoes, rice and greens cooked in an earthen oven. The Canadians have to make do with poutine, described as french fries covered in cheese curds and brown gravy.
meatpaper is both ironic and serious at the same time. It is published in San Francisco and its focus is more domestic than some of the other magazines but this is redeemed by arty graphics and a curious take on all issues meat.
meatpaper: Journal of Meat Culture – available from Scrumptious Reads. $15. http://www.meatpaper.com
Condiment:Adventures in Food and Form, the most self-consciously arty of the magazines. Published out of Melbourne, the focus is relentlessly global with articles from Germany, Japan and the United States. The magazine is highly graphic with collages, photography and selected works by particular artists. The writing has a manifesto feel about it as the writers explore the far reaches of what is gastronomy. For example, Cameron Allan McKean, in his piece on walking towards an expanded gastronomy and ponders that ‘chemical and molecular science did not free food through molecular gastronomy, it tethered it to technology and abused it: a fearful overwrought approach to food.’ Like the other magazines, there is a desire to stretch the notion of what is food writing and to do this through exploring the links between food and art.
Condiment – available from the Queensland Art Gallery. $15. http://www.foodandform.com