Lucky Peach, the food quarterly from Momofuku's David Chang, debuted yesterday. It's an enormous amount of fun, as you would expect, kind of like Grand Street crossed with No Reservations. This makes sense once you run down the list of contributors: Anthony Bourdain, Harold McGee, Ruth Reichl. The first issue is devoted to ramen, with the focus on Japan being appropriate in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami.
But this is not just a print ode to noodles, although there is happily some of that. Turn the pages of the satisfyingly hefty journal, and you'll find Bourdain's long riff on Chang himself, a “Specifist's Guide to the Regional Ramen of Japan,” the seemingly (hopefully) first installment of “Harold McGee in Outré Space,” a Timeline of Ramen Development, an instant ramen taste test conducted by Reichl (hilarious), some meditations on the egg (“I know, I know, ” writes Chang, “it's the 'ramen' issue, so we should just have like sixty-nine noodle recipes and nothing else. But when we were talking about ramen, we got to talking about the eggs in the ramen, and the conversation just spun out from there.”) and recipes.
Yes, recipes. 22 recipes. David Chang recipes, mostly. Worth the price of admission themselves. So that you can make your own tonkotsu broth to spill on the journal's pages. Or make cacio e pepe from instant ramen. Or instant ramen gnocchi. Or bacon dashi. And if that isn't highbrow enough, Chang provides a recipe for Alain Passard's famous egg, called here the Arpege egg, too. Knock yourself out.
Add short stories, lovely art, meditations on the potato chip and on the problem of authenticity, and the hilarious transcription of a recent conversation between Chang, Bourdain and Wylie Dufresne in a café in Spain, and you have one damn fine food journal, worth considerably more than the combined weight and advertisements of what passes for food magazines these days. But then some of us still read The Paris Review, so what do we know.
Lucky Peach is print journal published quarterly by San Francisco-based McSweeney's, and is a creation of Chang, writer Peter Meehan and Zero Point Zero Productions, which also produces Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. The editor-in-chief is Chris Ying; Peter Meehan and David Chang are the editors. Coming soon: an iPad app, also produced by Zero Point Zero, that will feature videos, recipes, art and essays. To subscribe, visit store.mcsweeneys.net. A one-year subscription (4 issues) costs $28. The issues are $10 in stores, and you can currently find copies of the first issue at Vroman's in Pasadena.