Winter 2017 Issue
LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER
At the Table: A World of Local Food
Years ago, during a car ride in the South of France, I discovered something surprising about myself. Although I sometimes can’t remember what I did last week, I seem to have a remarkable recall for meals I have eaten.
Kathy, Marie, Marisa and I had been traveling on the winding road toward Grasse for hours and, conversation momentarily spent, we needed a word game, or maybe 20 Questions, to help pass the time. This was long before my Edible days; I had a job that required extensive travel and a love for vacations that took me even further afield. My friends started to quiz me about some of the meals I had eaten along the way.
I can’t remember the reason for my business trip to southwest Virginia two decades ago, but I can still vividly see, smell and taste the legendary peanut soup at the Hotel Roanoke. I don’t remember who I met with in Milwaukee, but I remember the oversized croutons in the split-pea soup and the impossibly thin lemon slices that topped the schnitzel at a German restaurant there. I can still see the frog legs on my plate in Philly; I can smell the spoonful of shrimp étouffée in New Orleans.
Thinking back to a vacation in Portugal stirs up memories of port and prawns; Malaga, Spain, is where Kathy, Marisa and I discovered white gazpacho—and managed to snag the recipe. There was a perfectly prepared grouper in Blois, France, and I once saw an octogenarian drinking eel’s blood at a food market in Hong Kong.
Food and travel are the perfect pairing. We learn so much about a region’s culture and personality by sharing a taste of what’s on its plate. Food traditions celebrate our differences, our uniqueness; they represent the mosaic promise of our planet. Our world of local flavors needs to be cherished.
Journalist Carlo Petrini says the day he learned a McDonald’s franchise was planning to open near the Spanish Steps in Rome was the day he became an advocate for local foods. Slow Food, the organization he founded in 1989 “to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat,” is now a movement involving millions of people in more than 160 countries.
Which brings me to this, our annual travel issue. In the Cotswolds (page 32), Rome (page 18) and Ethiopia (page 40), we experience culinary traditions. Closer to home, we join a New Jersey hot dog tour (page 22) and our writers share a few food travel memories of their own (page 36).
We hope this issue inspires you to seek the experience of food this year. Whether you’re dining at an Indian restaurant, finding the best local spot for farmstead cheese in Sacramento or taking, as I recently did, a cooking class in Tuscany, take a moment to truly focus on the food and the people who grow, produce, prepare and serve it. You will gain a taste of place, a sense of community and—just possibly—a wonderful lifelong memory.
-Nancy Brannigan Painter, Publisher