If you needed to use just one word to describe why it’s rewarding to go beyond Gourmet, Food & Wine, and Bon Appétit for food writing, it might be “soul.” Cooking, serving, and eating are among the most intimate and primal things we do on a day-to-day basis, and it’s hard to find food writing that really makes an effort to pry open the safe of the heart.
But journals like Alimentum, which dedicates itself to “the literature of food,” do just that. In a recent edition (regrettably not available online), poet Alison Townsend files a series of three short dispatches titled “Home Economics,” “The Shape of This Hunger,” and “Kool-Aid.” They are elegant and emotionally intense without being maudlin or overly styled.
From the opening of “Home Economics”:
“In eighth grade I got an ‘A’ on my Home Ec notebook for recipes clipped from my stepmother’s magazines and arranged in menus more elaborate than the scrollwork design on her silver. ‘You’ll be a fine little home-maker someday,’ Mrs. Florio wrote along the margin in turquoise, her perfect Palmer script the epitome of all I was terrified of becoming.”
Beyond Townsend’s excellent work, issue seven of Alimentum is an intriguing little basket of goodies, worth grabbing from the shelf if you happen to spot it.