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Laraine Newman Finds Lucky Peach

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My husband used to quote his Turkish grandpa Bernie about the secret to creating a successful business. Something about finding a gap in the market; a service that is needed but hasn't been provided...yet.

I think the good folks at McSweeney's probably took a page from Bernie's notebook when they dreamed up Lucky Peach Magazine because the world certainly needed an in-your-face, take-no-prisoners, fuck-you, let's see you do micro-gastronomy recipes at home you sorry bastards, food publication.

To give you some idea of the subversive nature of this thing, the cover of Issue Number 4 has a cow being fed a hot dog!

This would be The American Food Issue and it opens with a pretty dang funny apology from David Chang, renowned chef/owner of The Momofuku Restaurant Group. The deliciously ironic tone of the letter does more to promote the new wave image of today's young chefs than any of the spiky-haired, contest winning, road tripping drunken loudmouths you find on the Food Network.

I wish I knew more about art so I could convey the style of the magazine's graphics. The photographs are gorgeous and there's a sense of humor infused in every aspect of it's content. Jonathan Waxman's Fried Chicken is presented simply with images and arrows pointing to the next step. Good for toddlers and, well, me.

And what food magazine of this kind would be complete without a contribution from Anthony Bourdain? In this case, he and Elvis Mitchell discuss, among several topics, the Barry Levinson movie Diner.

Bourdain: "Look at the characters; all of them are despicable people. The most interesting character in the film is Mickey Rourke's and he's basically a rapist."

Mitchell: "Everybody talks about Orson Welles and Touch of Evil, or Scorsese in GoodFellas, but that Diner tracking shot around the party is extraordinarily confident. People forget what a great piece of directing it is."

I got the impression that Elvis Mitchell not only likes Bourdain immensely, but he is also terrifically polite.

This magazine is stuffed with fantastic recipes and images but I simply have to mention the article called "American Microbial Terroir." No, that last word isn't misspelled even though Word is underlining it. This is the principle that 'different species of microbes have different ways to make flavor molecules as they break down raw ingredients'...but one of my favorite quotes is "if you don't have a crock of rotting cabbage in the corner of your kitchen, you just aren't cool anymore."

With advertisers like Breville and Third Man Records (Jack White's label) the picture is complete. So, I hope I've intrigued you enough to check it out. You can get it at Subscriptions:

-By Laraine Newman