I'm hesitant to point this out—the last thing I want to do is raise your standards for food writing—but I spent last night (when I should have been writing my column) pouring over the summer issue of Lapham's Quarterly. For the poor souls not familiar with Lewis Lapham's post-Harpers project, each issue is built around a broad theme (Celebrity; Religion; Medicine), then filled with the editors' favorite pieces on the chosen subject, ranging from Homer to David Foster Wallace. There's a huge range of forms and genres represented, and the final product ends up being something more than the sum of its parts. It's the kind of magazine you want to keep on your shelf forever.
The new issue—Food—has me particularly excited. Among the more contemporary writers represented are Paul Roberts, Ruth Reichl, Greil Marcus, Hunter S. Thompson, Patton Oswalt, and Anthony Bourdain, but there's plenty of Nabokov, Barthes, Zola, and Proust for good measure. One of the more striking pieces, to me, was Scott Korb's "It's What's For Dinner," a personal essay on food writing and the ethics of eating meat, and his struggle to take "real pleasure in food again". The piece begins: "Most honest discussions that bring together food and animals are really, at bottom, about suffering and killing and death..."
No wonder I'm procrastinating.