foodies. For those of you paying attention, you know the release-date for the
hotly anticipated Lucky Peach Issue 2:
The Sweet Spot is upon us. For those of you who have no idea what I just
said, your world is about to be rocked. Regardless of who you are, get pumped: we
got our hands on an advance copy.
The Sweet Spot, the second quarterly food and
writing journal from Chef David Chang (who appears at Harvard tonight to participate in the lecture series devoted to the science behind food), Peter Meehan and Chris Ying, celebrates
the singular moment--a.k.a., the sweet spot--in multiple contexts. When are
apricots best (Yes! Apricots can be uh-mazing!),
when are athletes, chefs, human beings at their peak, when is that freshly
caught fish best to kill? Yes, there is also a section concerning actual
sweets, penned by Momofuku Milk Bar chef and owner Christina Tosi. And yes,
because we know you were wondering, there is a section devoted to a certain
dolphin-shaped sex toy.
inaugural issue of Lucky Peach toyed
with the balance between recipes and narration, and honed in on a singular
topic: ramen, in all of its forms and curiosities. It was light-hearted,
funny, and featured an aggressive wit behind most of the articles. This time
around, the 173-page tome gets right down to business almost immediately; a
fucking hilarious piece documenting Chang & Co.'s travels from Kyoto to Copenhagen
and laying the floor plan behind the rest of the issue.
going to lie, I was eliciting strange looks as I sat on the B line during rush
hour, snorting out laughs in a unprofessional manner, while I flipped through a
thick magazine with a dead fish on the cover. It couldn't be helped: Lucky Peach is that friend you love
getting drinks with because they 1) always have the best dirty jokes and 2) are
crazy knowledgeable about every drink on the menu.
sardonic fruit "decorating" stickers! There's a whole article on types of miso,
accompanied by sketches of miso blobs in different outfits (read; "Miso Sweet,
Miso Funky, Miso Horny." You'd be surprised how quickly this becomes the funniest
thing you've ever seen.), and step-by-step recipes, as logically laid-out as
they can get.
But what of Chang's
notorious bad boy image? Any more digs at fig-plating chefs? After a full
read-through, I just want to be best friends with the
guy. According to him, the man behind the "no reservations, no vegetarian
options" credo of Momofuku has cooled off a bit.
"I'm still trying to not be
confined by culinary dogma and to keep on pushing on those walls," he
says. "However, I wouldn't say I'm settled. I'm certainly less angry than
I used be...but I'm never at ease with any of our restaurants. There's a constant
drive to make things better every day."
READ: Science fare: The chemistry of haute cuisine
This desire to constantly improve
upon himself is a recurring theme throughout Lucky Peach; Chang's musings on personal "sweet spots" is a
personal and enlightening philosophical squash match that left me wondering if
my "peak" was fast-approaching.
In the same vein, one could
wonder about the sweet spot of American cuisine. Are we past our prime? Or are
we closer to a batch of rock-hard, off-season, green tomatoes en route to your
local Stop & Shop?
"I think it's upon chefs to
stop trying to make exact authentic replicas of cuisines around the world and
try to figure out what's going on in America," Chang says. "I think of
Rene Redzepi [prominently featured in the gang's travels through Copenhagen] at Noma; in
seven years he created Nordic cuisine. Nobody knew what Nordic cuisine was, and
now you see what they've done at Noma and it's being copied throughout Scandinavia. I feel like we have the opportunity to do
something like that in the US."
banter aside, I now know exactly how to kill a fish without retaining any of
the panic-induced lactic acid in the muscles, making for a fresher tasting
catch. That has to count for something.
Lucky Peach: Issue 2--The Sweet
Spot, is available wherever books are sold, November 15.