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The Art of Eating

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An independent print magazine about the best food and wine. No advertising.

WHAT THE ART OF EATING IS ABOUT

The Art of Eating is about the best food and wine — what they are, how they are produced, where to find them (the farms, markets, shops, restaurants).

Tradition.

More often than not, the best food and wine are traditional, created when people had more time and when food was more central to happiness than it is today. We look for the logic of geography, methods, and culture that make good food good — that give character and the finest flavor. We visit passionate growers to understand why some raw materials are so much better than others. We seek the most accomplished artisans to understand their methods. Their best products, rare as many are, still set the standards of excellence by which even mass-produced food and drink are judged. Besides superior foodstuffs, we seek exceptional time-honored recipes, the products of generations of cooks. Not that everything old is good. The Art of Eating is also about the new when it’s better.

The Art of Eating

Simplicity.

On the farm and in workshops and kitchens, what is treated least usually tastes best. Gentle, minimal treatment produces the clearest, fullest flavor. The best vegetables are in most cases the very freshest, not stored at all but cooked as soon as possible after they are picked. The best olive oil is wholly unrefined. The best hams are patiently dry-cured. The most delicate fresh cheese is made on the farm with raw milk, and the curd is hand-ladled into molds, so it is broken as little as possible. The most flavorful honey is not only unheated but still in the cells of the comb, sealed by the bees under wax. Grapes for the finest wine are pressed, and the maker interferes as little as possible with the natural process after that. In the kitchen, too, the best dishes are generally simple. In the words of the great French critic Curnonsky, “Cooking! That’s when things taste like what they are.”

The Art of Eating

A Sense of Place.

The best food and wine have a sense of place that comes from soil, climate, tradition, and all the local influences that as a group exist nowhere else. Certain varieties of plants and breeds of animals evolved under local conditions. (Some places, not only vineyards, are ideal for particular foods.) Local foodstuffs combined with local culinary skills and traditions create the typical flavors of a place. The food and drink in The Art of Eating are mainly French, Italian, and American. Subjects range from great bread in California and Paris to the best chocolate, the most delicate and aromatic olive oil, wines of the Loire Valley, the ideal roast for coffee, dry-aged steak, farm cheeses of Provence, gumbo in Cajun Louisiana, the food and wine of Tuscany, cloth-bound Vermont cheddar, pizza in Naples, the great blue cheese of Roquefort, the current state of food in Paris, and many other, often unusual topics.

The Art of Eating, which first appeared as a food letter in 1986, is published four times a year. There is no advertising. Along with in-depth articles, there are recipes, letters, a wine review (“Why This Bottle, Really?”), restaurant reviews, book reviews plus, according to the subject, addresses for exceptional open-air markets, individual growers and craftsmen, bakers, cheesemakers, wineries, olive-oil mills, charcutiers, chocolatiers, or restaurants (from haute cuisine to very simple). I guarantee you’ll be happy with your subscription.

Current Issue

no. 88 (mailed December 9th)

The Art of Eating no. 88

colored square   Cooking by Feel: Central Texas Barbecue   Jordan Mackay 
The fire and smoke and slowness, the meats, the differences among the best Central Texas barbecue joints. 

colored square  Caviar  Jeff Cox
The most delicious and ethical farmed caviar — now that stocks of wild sturgeon have been poached to the point of being endangered — and the distinctions in taste among the several kinds from different species of sturgeon. 

colored square   Two French Cabbage Recipes: Chou farci and Chou rouge au châtaignes Edward Behr and James MacGuire
Basic cabbage dishes tend to run across cultures. Here are French takes on stuffed cabbage and sweet-and-sour red cabbage with chestnuts. 

colored square  Raspberries: The Taste of Home-Grown  Lee Reich
The very best, most raspberry-tasting raspberries come from some of the least common varieties.

colored square  Quince: The Perfumed Fruit   Melissa Pasanen
Truly delicious quince is one of the rarest of fruits, but here and there you can find flavorful varieties picked properly ripe.

With a recipe for sliced quince in sweet syrup.

colored square  Why This Bottle, Really?
Peter Liem on Fino Inocente (Jerez) from Bodegas Valdespino

Jon Bonné on Outis, Etna Rosso (Sicily), from Vini Biondi 

colored square  Notes and Resources
The Art of Eating Cookbook: Essential Recipes from the First 25 Years 

colored square  Restaurants
New York: Winnie Yang on Kajitsu

Oakland: Emily Kaiser Thelin on Camino

colored square  Books
Michelle Dumitriu-Machtoub on Barbara Abdeni Massaadi’s Mouneh: Preserving Foods for the Lebanese Pantry

James MacGuire on the Dictionnaire universel du pain 

Edward Behr on Alice Feiring’s Naked Wine: Letting Grapes

Do What Comes Naturally and Jacqueline Friedrich’s Earthly Delights from the Garden of France: Wines of the Loire, Volume I,

The Kingdom of Sauvignon

Editor’s Opening Letter

Edward Behr

We’re 25! When I began to publish a slim food letter in 1986, I had a wholly unrealistic expectation that it would achieve a big, early success and beyond that no clear notion of where The Art of Eating was headed. Success came slowly as it happened, and eventually those few black-and-white pages became a color magazine with a modest-size but influential and deeply interested audience. In a parallel evolution, I accumulated a large experience of food and drink with a particular focus on raw materials. I was driven by both curiosity and a sense of romance.

Looking now at those early issues, I’m surprised at how fundamental and DIY most of the subjects are: making your own three-day bread, your own wood-fired clay oven, your own fresh cheese, your own sausages, sharpening kitchen knives (only the last being essential). I wrote about the importance of salt, the advantages of stone-ground flour, the first wave of American farm cheeses. But I also dug into the more refined topics of Tahitian vanilla, brioche, tomatoes, roast beef, freshness in fish, chervil, and delicate custard. From the start I was looking for the essence of the taste, the real thing, whether in raw materials or the finished dish. I asserted the importance of place, as a rule, in producing the most delicious taste.

Twenty-five years later, we still publish articles about the best bread and cheese, written with somewhat deeper understanding, and we cover a widening range of ingredients and cuisines. The topics of those first issues, including the link of taste to place, are still fundamental to delicious food. And when we taste today, however innovative the food may be, the methods and flavors of traditional food are still the point of reference. And place remains an enormous part of why traditional food matters. The new Art of Eating Cookbook, collected from the magazine and described in this issue, honors the strength of that foundation. 

There’s a lot to celebrate about food today. Where quality once seemed on a long inexorable slide downhill, it’s now widely recognized that there’s powerful economic value in deliciousness. More delicious food often affects our environment for the better, when the higher quality is linked to sustainable farming. There's still plenty of bad news in the mass market and in the oceans, but an increasing number of products are made well, ethically, sometimes brilliantly. Wine, beer, and all kinds of drink are readily available in superlative non-industrial forms. And almost anywhere you go in the United States, if you know where to look you can find a quality of food that was unimaginable when I began. Amid all the complexity of food and drink, the topics we have yet to cover in AoE seem endless.

Edward Behr, November 2011

In North America, back issues are $13.50 each or $12 each for four or more, postpaid.

Sent to other countries, they are $16.75 each or $15 for four or more, postpaid.

To order, click here, or call 1.800.495.3944 (US and Can) or 1.802.751.1158 (anywhere or send mail to The Art of Eating, Box 242, Peacham, Vermont 05862 USA.

The Art of Eating

www.artofeating.com

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