Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Lucky Peach, Indeed

What has two thumbs and is a total slacker?  This guy!  Yes, I know it's been far too long since I've regaled you with kitchen stories.  And I realize you're still waiting to know how my fake budget turned out.  Not to worry--that will be my next post.  At this time, I have bigger and better things to tell you.  What could be bigger and better than a fake poverty-level budget?  I'M IN LOVE!

Who is it?  The answer may be surprising, depending upon how well you know me.  It's not so much of a who as a what.  And that what is Lucky Peach.  And what, pray tell, is Lucky Peach?  It's a new quarterly magazine from NYC Chef David Chang and the people who bring you No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain.  Do I really have to tell you that it is my new favorite magazine?  I didn't think so.

My intrepid sidekick, LA, and I were perusing the magazine racks at our local Barnes & Noble, and I decided to look over the cooking section.  I do so mostly out of habit, since I know what's waiting for me is typically a showcase of Food Network honeys (and Food Network magazine, if I want all the honeys in one place).  I don't need to know how to make a "tablescape" for every crappy meal I've cooked up using all pre-made ingredients, and I never say "Yum-O", so those magazines aren't really for me.  The only exception may be Paula Deen's.  She is my dream mother-in-law.  Besides, her magazine is full of photos of her eye candy son, Bobby.  So maybe that magazine is one of the better ones.  Bon Appetit is all available online (and full of out-of-my-real-and-fake-budget ingredients) and Saveur has never been one of my favorites.  How many issues can they devote to pesto? 

Then my eye caught a photo of a hand holding a plucked chicken.  Right there in the front row!  Who could possibly have the audacity to show food in its raw form?  David Chang, apparently.  Then I saw "Issue 1 - Ramen".  Seriously?  I flipped through the magazine, and I was instantly hooked.  Of course, I was also not-so-instantly out of money, so the purchase of the magazine would have to wait until after payday.

Once the money was in the bank, we headed back to B&N.  I had to have that magazine!  I happily plunked down my $10 (+ tax), hoping that I would get my money's worth.  And get it, I did.  This may be the best magazine in print. 

The first issue is, in fact, devoted to ramen.  But not in the way you might think.  The first article is a travel diary, tracing a trip through Japan in search of great ramen.  Ruth Reichl (editor of the now sadly defunct Gourmet magazine) reviews assorted store brands of ramen.  David Chang gives us some great recipes using dried ramen noodles, including Instant Ramen Gnocchi Parisienne and Instant Ramen Cacio e Pepe.  While Chef Chang apologizes for writing an "obvious" recipe like Ramen-Crusted Skate, I would still happily try making it.

Despite great articles on the origins of ramen and a biography of David Chang written by Anthony Bourdain, my personal favorite items in the first issue of Lucky Peach are two haiku.  One is a recipe for Corn with Miso Butter and Bacon, written by the editor.  Yes, a recipe written in haiku form.  The best haiku, however, comes courtesy of Oscar, who is (presumably) David Chang's dog.  And who wears a do-rag.  "If I had some eggs / I could have some eggs 'n' toast / If I had some toast."  A dog who writes haiku.  Awesome! 

My favorite article from the magazine.  How is this not me and my friends?
Do I need to say again how much I love Lucky Peach?  While the $10 cover price may be a bit steep, the magazine is all articles, unlike many other food magazines which are stuffed with advertisements for rubber floor mats and vacations in Sedona.  The good news is that a subscription is only $28.  Okay, it's still higher than your average magazine, but I'm ready to support someone who knows how to cook and cares about food and not just "tablescapes".  It always comes back to the tablescape. 

Seriously--go buy this magazine!  Keep in print so I have something interesting to read between classes.

For a subscription to Lucky Peach, click here.

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