Ah, Gastronomica: Home to some of the most pompous, obscure, and aggravating writing in the world of food, but also home to some of the most interesting, well-researched, and poetic. And the two clumps are not necessarily mutually exclusive, of course.

Falling squarely and exclusively into camp #2 is Yossi Gutmann’s beautiful photo essay (not available online, sorry) in this quarter’s edition of the magazine, entitled “My Father’s Kitchen, Tel Aviv.”

It opens simply:

My father is ninety-four. He lives alone in a four-room apartment that once held twelve people. For seven decades his shop, where he still works full-time repairing watches, has been across the street.

Simple, clear, declarative sentences drive this exploration of a kitchen where “nothing ever disappears,” including the “residue of the tape meant to protect the family against the Italian bombing of Tel Aviv in 1942.”

Who even knew there was an Italian bombing of Tel Aviv in 1942?

A brief meditation on simple food and Spartan living, Guttman’s essay and photos are surprisingly stirring and—unto themselves—justify the purchase price of the magazine. Well played, Gastronomica. Well played.

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