Not a food magazine

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by Steve Watson in September 2023
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Food & drink Music

Magazines evolve from issue to issue, but the changes tend to be relatively subtle. When I picked up issue two of Te magazine, though, I realised that I would have to rethink my entire understanding of what the magazine is.

‘Te’ is the Hokkinen pronunciation of ‘tea’, and Michael Guo, the magazine’s editor and founder, argues that it was the first globalised word; beginning in a southern Chinese dialect, it was exported to Europe and the rest of the world to name the drink we all recognise today. The first issue of Te was published in 2021 and it caught my eye because it seemed to be doing something clever with food publishing: Its stories are about the different ways that ingredients can travel around the world, or the different values and associations that might be attributed to particular dishes, and so the whole thing seemed to be using the conventions of a food magazine as a sort of Trojan horse for telling stories about people and cultural anthropology.

I really enjoyed it and I was looking forward to picking up issue two at Indiecon a few weeks ago, but when I did I realised that it wasn’t about food at all. The focus had shifted to sound, and rather than examining the ways that sound spreads around the world, it looks at different ways that sound has been used as a tool for change, for example in popular protest.

I wanted to know more about this lovely Chinese/English magazine, so I contacted Michael to speak to him about his aims with the publication, and how he goes about achieving them. I hope you enjoy our conversation – if you’d like to hear more discussions with independent magazine makers, please follow us wherever you get your podcasts, and we’ll be able to deliver all our new episodes to you as soon as they’re ready.


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