When I was in a Whole Foods in Denver recently, I came across an interesting magazine that I had never seen before called Gastronomica.
However, as soon as I saw the $12 price tag, I immediately put it down. It seemed very expensive, and I had already spent too much money on food as it was.
Once back in New York City, I saw Gastronomica again but this time I decided to splurge.
It only took a few minutes for me to realize that not only was this an absolute gem of a magazine but the $12 price was actually a bargain.
How could a $12 magazine be a bargain? Let me explain.
WHAT SETS IT APART
Gastronomica is a magazine that explores the culture and history of food and is afforded the luxury of being able to go where many other food magazines cannot. Since Gastronomica is published by the University of California Press and does not rely on ad sales to stay afloat, it has the time and space to discuss the incredible cultural relevance that food has in our society.
Darra Goldstein, the Editor-in-Chief/Founder of the magazine, author of four cookbooks and the Francis Christopher Oakley Third Century Professor of Russian at Williams College, saw a need for this type of magazine when she launched it ten years ago.
“In the world of academia, I wanted a forum where we could have a conversation about food. Most food magazines are about lifestyle. Larger audiences want to look at the serious issues of food but it is important not to forget the pleasure and fun that food offers,” said Darra Goldstein.
Each piece is incredibly well-written, scholarly and thought-provoking.
Additionally, Gastronomica is something that you cannot get through in a night nor would you want to. It is something that should be savored, just like a great meal.
While there were so many fantastic ones to choose from, here are a few of my favorite articles from the last issue:
– The Art in Gastronomy: A Modernist Perspective by Nathan Myhrvold. He debated the question of whether food is art.
This was one of the most impressive piece of writing I have ever come across in my life. Not a surprise, given that it comes from Nathan Myhrvold.
Nathan Myhrvold started college at 14, is the former Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft, received his PhD in theoretical and mathematical physics by age 23 and is the principal author of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, a 2,500 page cookbook that has been named the most important cookbook of the first ten years of the 21st century.
– Set for Transition: Dansk Designs’ Fjord Flatware by Sarah Froelich. She writes about an important collection of flatware from Denmark. Very, very interesting. After all, how often do we think about how and where forks are designed?
– High-End Dining in the 19th Century United States by Paul Freedman and James Warlick. It was so fascinating to learn what was on the menu at restaurants in New York City in the 1850s.
– The Struggle for Sunday Lunch: Gastropolitics in the Life of Nelson Mandela by Anna Trapido. She explored the role of food in the life of one of the greatest historical and political figures of our time.
STANCE ON GMOs
Understanding whether Gastronomica had a bias towards genetically-modified foods was a real concern of mine. The magazine does not take an official position on the matter, and Darra Goldstein tries to “balance things and be eclectic.”
I read several articles in past issues of Gastronomica and if anything, I would say that there is a slight bias towards organic.
Gastronomica is truly an amazing magazine with phenomenal writing and spectacular artwork/photography, and the value you get out of it far exceeds the cost. And once you pick it up, you soon realize that what you have in your hands is much closer to a book than a traditional magazine.
If you love food, culture and history, Gastronomica is for you.
Gastronomica is published four times per year and costs $50 for one year. Discounts are available for students and senior citizens.