The Weekend List 02/27/2012

I have had an interesting week and I have spent it reading all kinds of food writing. The great thing about the realm of writing about food is that it follows its own rules. It can be edgy, funny, narrative, and wrapped up into one killer piece.

-I am a uber fan of Lucky Peach, the brain child of chef David Chang. It’s more than a magazine, it’s a dairy, a novel, a notebook, a song, it’s all these things and more. There isn’t a set label to describe it and I have the feeling Chang wanted it that way. And speaking of rules, Jeff Gordinier writes in The New York Times that although the “strict” rules for creating a magazine are still very relevant, being a literary rebel works, too.

You’re supposed to put a sexy person on the cover of a magazine. You’re supposed to lure readers in with a tempting (yet delicately neurosis-inducing) display of hyperbolic phrases about getting a killer beach body in five minutes and embarking on a dream vacation to Costa Rica and making cocktails that rival the ambrosial nectars of the Greek gods.

I highly recommend picking up the third issue. It’s so worth it.

-As you have probably discovered already, I am a cookbook freak. So you can guess my excitement when I found Eater’s Spring 2012 cookbook preview. The added thrill? April Bloomfield’s A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories. Why this particular book you ask? It’s a funny story. Last winter, I picked up The New Yorker’s food issue and found one of my favorite pieces of food writing: a profile of April Bloomfield, the chef at NYC’s The Spotted Pig. Since then, I have been a huge fan of Bloomfield, rooting for her that same year when she was nominated for  the 2011 James Beard Awards. On April 24, you can find me at the nearest bookstore. Other notables:

* Nobu’s Vegetarian Cookbook by Nobu Matsuhisa

*Pierre Hermé Pastries by Pierre Hermé

*The Southern Italian Farmer’s Table: Authentic Recipes and Local Lore from Tuscany to Sicily by Matthew Scialabba and Melissa Pellegrino.

-The 2012 James Beard semifinalists have been announced! David Chang, momofuku ssäm Bar, in NYC for Outstanding Chef; Kevin Gillespie, woodfire Grill,  in Atlanta (Top Chef, people!) for Rising Start Chef of the Year. The Best Chef: NYC category is a powerhouse: April Bloomfield, Marco Canora, Scott Conant, Wylie Dufresne and Anita Lo.

-Have you liked The Italian Fork on Facebook?

A flashback in photos

I have been meaning to look through old photos for a while, and what I found brought back incredible memories. I apparently really LOVED gelato. See for yourself.

I used to go over to my grandpa’s house after school and dig through the freezer. There was always something for my brother and I in there: gelato, ice cream cookies, Calippo, and ghiaccioli. On those hot and sticky summer days in Milano, nothing was better than eating my ghiacciolo with my friends in a field of red poppy flowers. My last trip home was traumatic. Those fields are no longer there…poppy flowers, which used to grow so easily around my small town, were nowhere to be found. I guess I was trying to keep those memories intact and relive those fun and innocent days. Thank goodness for these photos…especially the gap in my teeth in the first one and the gelato drop on my nose. Classy!

Food Reads: “In a War Zone, Finding Solace in Food”

Once in a while, an article speaks to me. It’s not the images, it’s not the famous byline. Rather, it’s the story that captures me and doesn’t let go. I don’t complain since I want to be taken and transported in a different dimension.

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Tonight, I found that article. I was doing my nightly news routine, checking my favorite sites (once a news junkie, always a news junkie) and stumbled upon Alissa Rubin’s moving tale of finding comfort in food while on assignment in Afghanistan. Recalling T.S. Eliot, Rubin survives with more than just dry soups and flavorless, pre-packaged so-called food, but learns the way of the land. Although daunting, the unfamiliar becomes the norm.

There was so much I did not understand that first winter about how important it is to carry reminders of home when you go to hostile places. The hardest part was never the bombs, it was the lack of the familiar, a sense of the predictable, of even the most mundane pleasure. War zones are stripped down. Usually there are no choices — about what to eat, or much else. The food is mostly cold and functional. The kind you can shove into a pocket or throw under a car seat: protein bars, raisins, a box of potato chips. These are calories, not cuisine.

One more passage…one that touched my heart.

The Parmesan had personal resonance: it was a reminder of the year I lived in Italy and decided to become a foreign correspondent and learned to cook by living in a community of working-class women from Campania. They grew rosemary and sage on their windowsills; as I grated my Parmesan in my Kabul kitchen, I would smell rosemary although none grew there.

Oh, and for the record, she has my dream job.