The Art of Eating 20th-anniversary double issue is out, and it’s fat-packed with exactly what you’d expect: creator Edward Behr fussing about the advent of big-box stores while contributors file 4,000-word dispatches on California olive oil and the continuing existence of mead.

Behr’s opening essay is a cantankerous self-authored Q & A that sounds off against ads in food magazines, all things digital, and the decline of proper English. It lacks only an announcement that the neighborhood children should immediately get the hell off his lawn.

That said, it’s far more compelling than the cut-and-paste banalities that make up the editors’ columns in the food-as-lifestyle-porn magazines, or the New England yuppie romps that are Christopher Kimball’s columns in Cook’s Illustrated.

He writes about old friends (now deceased) who raised and butchered their own chickens and made their own wine. He writes about why his magazine doesn’t have ads, and his dual ideas of “the perfect meal.” He writes about why stories in the magazine sometimes top out at around 13,000 words.

It’s a beautiful read. And at one point, he answers a question (posed by himself) about his ideal reader. He writes that his ideal reader is, in essence, himself. You can’t accuse the dude of being too modest. These days, that’s a refreshing thing. As is The Art of Eating.

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