Poems, stories, and non-fiction in Alimentum tend to fall into one of two categories: work in which food (or food-related “stuff”) is the main character and work in which food metaphors and images are used to flavor other topics. Both approaches are used successfully in this issue of the journal.
In the first category, particularly noteworthy are: Eric LeMay’s essay “Stink” about cheese and literature (really!) in which cheese is featured; Jen Kartnik’s poem “A Brief Social History of the Pineapple” (“the jewel of the thistle we call artichoke and pull apart, / like our enemies, with white, straightened teeth.”); and Kim Chinquee’s short personal essay “Pickle Jar,” a family story of canning and consuming (foods and feelings).
In the second category, food imagery in the service of other subjects, I liked especially a poem by Joel James Davis, “Of all things keeping me up at night, the broken clasp on my boy’s supper bucket is the worst,” a delightfully original piece which lives up to the title’s promise of a distinct, believable, but unusual voice. It’s my favorite piece in the issue. This is my first encounter with work by this poet, but I hope to savor many more of his poems. Standouts for me in this category also include Aurora Brackett’s story “Ambrosia,” an imagined encounter with Luciano Pavarotti’s mother who is taking lunch to her dead son; and Caroline Cummings essay “Night and Day. How the Private Eye Eats – and Drinks” (which is about precisely what the title says it’s about).
This issue also features an interview with Alan Richman, Dean of Food Journalism at The French Culinary Institute in New York City where he teaches the Craft of Food Writing, and the essay he selected as the winner of Alimentum/French Culinary Institute Craft of Food Writing contest, “The Mystery Machine” by Kristen Aiken, which fits into the food-related “stuff” category (an ice cream maker of dubious origin).