A flamboyantly colorful, pleasantly dizzyingly constructed collection of the ruminations from some of the food world's characters
Pros: A lot of flavorful writing within the pages painted with broad strokes of color and cutting commentary
Cons: Not a cookbook; some obscure topical coverage here and there
McSweeney’s Publishing, David Chang, editor
Reviewed by Jim Berman
Take the volatile combination of Anthony Bourdain’s wit, Harold McGee’s wisdom and David Chang’s, well, weirdness, shake well and out pours the sardonic Lucky Peach. The four-issues-per-year journal is a flamboyantly colorful, pleasantly dizzyingly constructed collection of the ruminations from some of the food world’s most noteworthy and notorious chefs, food travelers, culinary pundits and downright gastronomic characters. David Chang stirs it all together and what is dispensed will make the most adventurous eater and ravenous reader hunger for the next issue.
Lucky Peach is an addictive read. Each is issue is a construct of a common theme, say, adventures in China Town or American Food or Apocalyptic dining, tossed out to some serious writers. Sure, there is a smattering of recipes. But, the appeal is in the Wired-style of design, the first-person musings and the drive-by handling of the issue’s topic. Fast, punchy, and downright interesting, Chang and his band of merry men say exactly what we are thinking and, in some cases, plant thoughts that keep you up at night. Cliché, but, food for thought is apropos. For instance, Bourdain’s droll insight is that same voice that we have come to relish; his ego-fueled words we have come to know pour across the page much to the delight of gasping terrestrial thinkers. He pulls no punches and we respect his frankness for the shock, humor and meat-clever shaped honesty. If you liked Kitchen Confidential, Medium Raw or Nasty Bits, you will slurp up Bourdain’s literary juice oozing from the Peach. And Harold McGee; he even loosens his tie and delivers the food science-savvy aspect of whatever topic the Peach is exploring, if not just a little more jocularly than we have come to know and expectedly love in On Cooking. You might event get an eyeful from Martin Yan, Rick Bayless or Ted Nugent. With that cast, it has to be good.
Lucky Peach is to cooking, what The Walking Dead is to nature programing; it is full of frontal assaults on the senses, plays within the arena we expect but slants reality enough to make you question ideas you thought were impossible. There is a lot of flavor within the pages painted with broad strokes of color and cutting commentary.