In the 2007 film Ratatouille, cynical food critic and main antagonist Anton Ego is asked what he would like to order at Gusteau’s restaurant and he replies “…some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective”, which understandably confuses and terrifies the waiter. In writing the call-out for this Food themed issue, we worried that we were being too much like Ego, simultaneously asking that writers send in their ‘best’ work while also not specifying what exactly makes something ‘the best’.

The truth is, ‘best’ poetry to us is like the best food, various and multiple, with history, character, excitement and fun all working together to form an entire meal. The poetry featured throughout this issue does this, from different angles and perspectives. Some of it is celebratory, while others look at the darker sides of the food chain. Some of it is tight and formal, others light and loose. What unites them all is excitement, ours, theirs, (even the poem’s… if you believe in magic) as well as a fearless appreciation for the power of food as a way to open doors between things: language, emotion, culture and identity.

The editorial choices made for this issue weren’t easy. There is so much ‘best’ food in the world, no single menu can contain them all. So it is with the ‘best’ poetry as well. We’re deeply grateful to everyone who submitted work to this issue as well as everyone who reads it.

While celebrating food, it’s important to not overlook the wider landscape of global food systems. A YouGov survey by the Food Foundation last year found that 15.5% of UK households were food insecure. Global warming continues to damage delicate ecosystems worldwide. There are an increasing number of difficult conversations we need to be having around how we approach and access food, and this single magazine does not diminish that need in any way. It can feel easy to feel despair over food when faced with these facts. However, by presenting all these different perspectives in one place I hope we can encourage everyone to think about the role food plays in their lives, as well as to live up to the excitement and fun that can still be found in kitchens around the world.

We’re also grateful to be able to offer perspectives from other areas of the food enthusiast landscape. Our feature on Food Zines in the UK, written by Kat from SPOONFEED and Rhia from Potluck, showcases the ongoing power of DIY food poetry and art that rose from the pandemic, and by collaborating with exciting food and culture newsletter Vittles and its editors Jonathan Nunn, Sharanya Deepak and Rebecca May Johnson, I also hope that newcomers to poetry will have a chance to enjoy a selection of work as well. We’re especially excited for reaction to Scottish chef Julie Lin’s poetry-inspired Fish Head Curry recipe and would love to see readers cook it for themselves if they can. We suggest making it first and digging into both curry and poems to enhance your reading experience.

Whatever your approach, we hope you enjoy this fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Bon appetit.


From Magma 86, Food

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