Lucky Peach is a foodie magazine with a rock-and-roll attitude. Published quarterly by McSweeney's (beginning with the Summer 2011 issue), the magazine is loaded with the McSweeney's brand of quirky style. The design is hip and eye-catching with lots of original artwork and full-color photographs. The articles are substantive and well-written and contain a variety of styles (travel journaling, interviews, transcribed conversations, traditional essays, etc.). There's even a short story titled "The Gourmet Club." Perhaps best of all, there are no advertisements.
The Summer 2011 issue focuses on ramen, and the level of detail and research into the subject is impressive. I particularly enjoyed the map of Japan annotated with the different types of ramen that can be found in various regions. I was motivated to search my own city (Houston) for some good ramen choices after learning so much about a dish I previously associated only with mediocre dehydrated, microwavable meals.
There are some well-known writers featured in this debut issue of Lucky Peach. For example, Anthony Bourdain discusses David Chang's culinary influences, and Ruth Reichl rates instant raman brands. Even better are some of the essays by lesser-known names. I particularly enjoyed Todd Kliman's piece on the authenticity of food. This isn't a magazine that's loaded with hundreds of recipes. There are only twenty or so, and many of them are quite complicated (homemade gnocchi using crushed ramen noodles?). One recipe (corn with miso butter) takes the form of several haikus. I'm tempted to try it just to see if it works out, but I expect I'll be reading my Lucky Peach more often than cooking from it. I do like how the recipes are presented in a unique graphical way--almost like flow charts.
Overall, this debut issue of Lucky Peach is a success. It's unlike any other food magazine being published right now. It offers high-quality food writing and gorgeous art in abundance, detailed recipes with tips and photographs, and lots of attitude.
A word of warning: there's some cursing in here. It didn't bother me overly much (though some of it did seem gratuitious), but you might want to exercise discretion about leaving this magazine lying about for your young children (or prudish grandmother) to discover.