Welcome to Read This Now, a recurring feature in which Gut Check recommends books, longer articles and other material worth an investment of your time.
is a new quarterly food magazine founded by Momofuku chef David Chang and food writer Peter Meehan and published by McSweeney's. The newsstand cost is $10 per issue, but for that price you receive nearly 200 beautifully designed pages with articles, recipes and food-porn-level photography -- and without advertising.
The subject of the first issue is ramen. There is a lengthy travelogue of Chang and Meehan's trip through some of Japan's most revered ramen restaurants, a handy guide to regional ramen styles and even recipes that use dry instant-ramen noodles as an ingredient.
The writing is generally very good. The only duds are a history of instant-ramen founder Momofuku Ando that reads like a school report and a short Anthony Bourdain essay analyzing Chang through a couple of movies that scans partly as an inside joke, partly as a public blowjob. Bourdain fans will want to skip instead to the transcript of him, Chang and WD-50 chef Wylie Dufresne discussing mediocrity in cooking.
is a new book from award-winning food writer Barry Estabrook. The subtitle lays out its subject: "How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit." Including this is a cheat on my part, as I have yet to read it. However, earlier this week, I heard Estabrook interviewed on Fresh Air
, and his book immediately leapt to the top of my must-read list. The interview is certainly worth a listen, even if you aren't ready to commit to reading the entire book.
It begins with a worker named Matthew Garcia, removing brains from the pigs:
On the other side, Garcia inserted the metal nozzle of a 90-pounds-per-square-inch compressed-air hose and blasted the pigs' brains into a pink slurry. One head every three seconds. A high-pressure burst, a fine rosy mist, and the slosh of brains slipping through a drain hole into a catch bucket. (Some workers say the goo looked like Pepto-Bismol; others describe it as more like a lumpy strawberry milkshake.)