I just got my hands on Lucky Peach, David Chang of Momofuku's New York Times-best-selling food journal, which features essays, photography, full-color recipes, art, travelogues and rants in a meticulously designed format. There are currently five issues, with the first issue out of print (it sold over 60,000 copies). The newsstand price is $12, or you can subscribe to the quarterly publication for $28 -- a bargain for anyone who likes, eats, buys, sells, cooks, thinks about, writes about or dreams about food.
Lucky Peach (the English translation of "Momofuku") is a hefty magazine filled with gorgeous photography, graffiti art, and shocking, bordering-on-offensive depictions of food culture. It is hard to put the magazine down. I've had the first three issues for two days, and I keep flipping through it, going back and forth and re-reading, pointing things out to friends, reading things out loud, laughing out loud, gasping out loud -- all while keeping one eye on the mailbox waiting on issue five to arrive.
In issue four Chang writes, "I apologize for our consistently juvenile covers. This one was my idea -- at least the front, not the part with the man-ass on it." Issue four is about American food, so there is a very close-up picture of a cow face being fed a hot dog. The back picture is of a random American diner, a man of substantial stature with a significant plumber's crack. Issue two is called the "sweet spot" issue and features a photo of a fish head with blood running out of its mouth, a reference to the ancient butchering practice of ike jime. Issue three's cover features a whole pig's leg being tattooed with the outline of a man, with butchering parts labeled.
Chang invites guest columnists, chefs, artists, butchers and more to write, draw, photograph and rant in every issue. Past contributors include Anthony Bourdain, Mario Batali, Ferran Adrià, Ruth Reichl, Yoshihiro Murata, Daniel Patterson, Jonathan Gold, Adam Gollner and many, many others.
In issue two, Peter Meehan, one of the editors, writes about the experience of creating issue one: "I felt like it was the magazine equivalent of throwing an M-80 into a bowl of ramen and taking a crime scene photo of the results. That was a good thing, for me at least. So here it is, Issue two. Another mess splattered all over the walls. Hope you dig it." In issue two, there is a page of 45 stickers made specifically for you to "vandalize, eh rather, decorate your own fruit with." They say things like, "Surprisingly Sticky, Great with Cigarettes, Hand Harvested By Poor People, The Fruit That Likes The Knife, The Fruit That Understands, Organic; Wash Before Using for Sex Stuff. "
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Lucky Peach is the greatest culinary adventure we've seen in quite some time. It's honest, side-splittingly funny, informative, thought-provoking, useful and, best of all, it keeps the food community talking. Follow Lucky Peach on Twitter and friend them on Facebook, but most importantly, get yourself a subscription. I dare you to put it down once it is in your hands.