Virginia B. Wood surveys her favorite food publications.
Food, History & Culture
After a hard day's holiday baking, I put my feet up and treated myself to an hour with a special issue of my favorite food magazine. The Saveur 100 celebrates the editors' favorite food, people, places, and things as determined by "their palates and their hearts," according to editor-in-chief Dorothy Kalins. Saveur's best contributors share stories about everything from homemade marshmallows to Paula Wolfert's hand-rolled couscous, real pimento cheese to luxurious white truffle ice cream. Southern Foodways Symposium director/food writer John T. Edge introduces Louisiana filé man Lionel Key and San Francisco food writer/cookbook author Peggy Knickerbocker rhapsodizes about the Portugese St. George cheese of artisan cheesemaker Mary Matos. It was an exhilarating read from start to finish and, as usual, I was hungry for more when I reached the last page. Whether the Saveur 100 list would necessarily be my 100 list is unimportant. Saveur never fails to fascinate and inspire me because the editors focus on food as a vital element of the cultures in which they discover it, presenting cooks and food in rich historical and cultural context rather than the newest low-fat trend or dinner party menus. Saveur is only one of several publications and organizations available to those of us interested in food as an important component of history and culture. Here's a list of things to look into in the coming year:
The Art of Eating, a quarterly newsletter by New England food writer Edward Behr. I share Saveur's admiration for Behr's in-depth examination of everything from cognac to vanilla, Valhrona chocolate to American country hams. $30 per year. 800/495-3944 or write PO Box 242, Peacham, VT 05862. Definitely worth the price.
Another worthwhile quarterly publication, Food History News, Sandra Oliver's newsletter, features columns about the joys of historical cooking and book reviews plus historical recipes and information about food history groups around the country. A must for aspiring food historians. $17 per year. FHN, 1061 Main Road, Islesboro, ME 04848.
Southern Foodways Alliance, a group whose mission is to celebrate, preserve, promote, and nurture the traditional and developing diverse food culture of the American South. Activities include the remarkable Southern Foodways Symposium. Affiliated with the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS 38677. $50 per year for individuals. Contact director John T. Edge at 622/232-5993 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Foodways Group of Austin is a local organization formed earlier this year that has monthly gatherings to discuss food topics. No cost. Contact Glen Mack at the Culinary Academy of Austin, 2823 Hancock Dr., 451-5743.
The Friends of Jordan Bachman Pioneer Farm support this living history museum, one of Austin's real treasures; food history enthusiasts may also want to become supporters. Reasonable fees (students $5, individuals $35, educators $25, sponsors $50) offer different perks and advance information about events such as dutch oven cooking demonstrations and Victorian dinners prepared and served in the newly restored 19th-century Bell House. 11418 Sprinkle Cut-Off Road, 837-1215.