A week of food

by Steve Watson in January 2011
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It’s a metaphor, an inexhaustible muse, a comfort and a bit like porn. What is? Food.

At least that’s what six editors of independent food magazines said when we spoke to them at the end of last year.

It seems like food has been the biggest boom area for independent magazines in the last couple of years. In a way that’s not surprising – food is everywhere; on our TVs, in our newspapers and certainly in our mainstream magazines. But there’s a special affinity between the cook and the independent magazine maker – a certain sense of the handmade, personal, tangible experience, that makes independent food magazines particularly popular. As Chris from Condiment puts it, “each meal is both an outcome and a new beginning,” and it’s not too much of a stretch to say the same thing about independent magazines.

All the magazines that have emerged are different to one another, but many explore common themes such as individual creativity, shared experience and the ritual in the everyday. That’s got to be more than a coincidence, so we decided to find out what was going on behind the scenes – what made these people want to convert their experience of food and drink into paper and ink?

Stack editor Beatrice Gullström set about contacting editors and recording their thoughts, and over the coming week we’ll publish a different interview each morning on the Stack blog. Some of the magazines are only on their first or second issues while others have been around for years, but all are well worth tracking down. We’ve already mentioned him, so we’ll start today with Chris Barton, editor of Australian food magazine Condiment.

(image taken from Meatpaper – more from them tomorrow…)

Chris Barton

Condiment (Australia)

Why did you start a food magazine?
We were inspired by the original definition of the “amateur” as “one who loves”. I am a writer and my partner Jessica is a photographer and designer and while there has always been a long and strong relationship between food and art, we wanted to explore this in a more contemporary sense.

Who are your readers?
We don’t really know, but we believe in the ability of aesthetics to connect people who share approaches and ideologies.

What’s so special about food writing?
The everyday nature of food means that it’s easy to think that you understand it. Food writing and food related publishing causes you to question not only what you eat, but the role of food as a central part to ideas of better living. After all, each meal is both an outcome and a new beginning.

Why are independent food magazines so popular at the moment?
Probably because food is meant to be shared and independent food magazines are one of the best ways to share ideas and images with a broader, but still niche, audience. Given that food is also everywhere in the mainstream media, we think it is important that all independent food magazines exist to balance things out and make sure that food is a subject for discussion and not just an object of desire.

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