I confess: My priorities are largely driven by deadlines. If something is not due by x:xx pm on x day, it's likely that I will not get to it in a timely manner. However, my delay in sharing a peek at Lucky Peach, Issue 4 is due in part to the fact that I was studying for the bar like a mad person when it arrived in the mail.
You may recall my post about my first copy of Lucky Peach earlier this year. After absorbing Issue 3, I awaited the next like a patient kid on Christmas morning. Allow me to quickly rattle off a few reasons, in no particular order, why I like Lucky Peach:
- It's published by McSweeney's, which means more, new, off-the-mainstream-track, interesting content. Perfume samples and advertisements for revolutionary skin cream, be gone!
- This is a magazine for people who like three things: Words, art, and food, each equally important.
- The contributors are people with a real opinion, an angle.
- It's the opposite of a watered down, pleasing-to-the-masses glossy magazine, but it's also totally different from, say, Gastronomica, which takes a more academic approach.
- Though irreverent in places, it's not superficial. The writers are people who know their stuff, which means I have a reason to read what they're saying.
- It's experimental but coherent. Issue 4, for example, takes the theme "American Food" then twists up the topic and format. First, there's not so much a definitive editorial stance on American food as there is a selective, frozen-in-time cross-section. Jonathan Gold and Robert Sietsema chow down on bbq and talk American food. Anthony Bourdain and a film critic discuss a movie. Marc Maron describes buying an old cast-iron pan. Second, LP is fun, visually. There's a taco riff on Choose Your Own Adventure, hand-drawn illustrations, and recipes laid out like infographics.
Would you call it precious? Quirky? At first glance, maybe, and I fall into some gray zone where I completely buy into every word while simultaneously aware of the public disregard toward the so-called foodie. But I enjoy reading and rereading LP enough that in my opinion, it falls on the substantive side of the thin line.
So. I kept my eyes out for Issue 4, but it in fact came to me. During the summer, Rachel Khong, managing editor at Lucky Peach (and a fellow Yale alumna!), offered to mail me a copy, and it arrived right in the middle of my bar study summer. I carried it around with me like a security blanket, reading it in pieces to break up the monotony of memorizing the rules of civil procedure.
Now, I finally have a few shots so that you, too, can get a glimpse. Check out the photos below!
Issue 4 came with a special accompaniment: A copy of The Big Meal by Dan LeFranc. Reading the play is not easy, as the characters are laid out horizontally (as you see below). How to describe it? Relationships (family, romantic, etc.) rubbing together in various restaurants.
Ilustrations dot the pages of the play
I recall listening to Jonathan Gold on Good Food lending his opinion on Kansas City BBQ, and lo and behold, here he is, eating Kansas BBQ and discussing American food with Robert Sietsema of the Village Voice in New York. Does JGold know how to multitask or what?
I [the author, Peter Meehan] didn't like the ribs at Oklahoma Joe's. Too soft, I thoguht, and I shared my opinion with Robert and Jonathan. We didn't disagree on the barbecue, but Jonathan took issue with the way I phrased my disappointment. "You looked at this and said, 'Oh, they really fucked up,' he chastisted. 'But no, they didn't. It just isn't our aesthetic. You've never seen such beautiful ribs in your life. And sometimes it's cool to see an aesthetic perfectly realized, even if it isn't your own."
As I mentioned above, a choose your own ad-er, eat-venture! I leave it a secret where these Taco Belles ended their journey (hint: it's a taco place just a short drive from my apartment).
Swan Oyster Depot in San Francisco
Recipes that I may or may not ever try but will look upon with curiosity
I've never heard of the movie Diner, but now I want to see it.
This is not a piece on the delicious history of cured meats but, instead, microbes.
Let's talk about sushi.
Note: These are my opinions only, and no one at McSweeney's or LP asked me to write this post.