Food fanatics

by Steve Watson in August 2009
Share on Facebook, Twitter or Copy Link
Diner Journal

I was sent a copy of Diner Journal recently, a beautiful magazine made in New York and dedicated to food. It does contain some recipes, but any similarity to a conventional food magazine ends there.

The cover lines promise pyramids, science and sun worship, and it’s obvious from the cover image (a model greenhouse reimagined as a prism, projecting a rainbow of colours made up of fruit and vegetables from its centre) that the creative force behind the title is no Delia Smith.

In fact much of the magazine’s content seems to have a spiritual, almost cultish relationship with the stuff we put in our mouths. The opening feature is a first-person account of macrobiotic cooking and living, which explains how foods have elements assigned to them like fire, water or wood, and how the aim is to “eat from around the dial daily”, balancing the foods against each other. Next comes a feature on fermenting food and drink to become more connected with the natural world around you, another first-person piece that begins with the death of the author’s father and goes on to encompass their own subsequent illness. It’s incredibly personal, almost less about the food than about the lives of the writers, and it’s incredibly compelling.

At first I thought that these stories, and the beautifully made publication that contained them, were like nothing I’d ever seen before, but then I remembered Meatpaper. Another American magazine, this time made in California, Meatpaper takes meat as its inspiration, unpacking and examining the complex relationship we have with it. The last issue I saw contained stories on America’s biggest slaughterhouse, a Belgian artist who made clothes out of raw meat, and an argument in favour of combining bacon and chocolate. Every bit as passionate as Diner Journal, it started me wondering why food should provide the inspiration for such eclectic and impassioned magazines.

And then I came across Swallow Magazine, and an interview its creators gave to Cool Hunting. Swallow travels the world, documenting local foods and food customs, motivated by the fact that there is “something missing within the food magazine world, as so many titles seemed to miss the creativity and approach that exists in other genres of magazines”.

All these magazines have their own totally original approach to their subject matter, and it makes perfect sense that people who love food would get frustrated by the standard format of recipes and glossy pictures that make up most mainstream food titles. For some reason it seems less surprising when people who love films or music get themselves organised and create their own magazines, but I’m not sure why that is. I suppose it must have something to do with film and music being associated with young, creative, disruptive movements, but these three magazines prove that food is just as fertile an area for experimentation.

Close Icon

Join our magazine club! Subscribe to Stack and every month we'll pick a different independent title and deliver it to your door. You never know what you'll get next...

Subscribe now