The fact that my final editor’s letter aligns with our annual travel issue is both fitting and bittersweet. I will be the first to acknowledge the unique privilege of making a print magazine in 2019, and especially one that, during Trump’s divisive and fear-mongering tenure, is committed to the people and ideas making eating and drinking in our local communities more equitable, sustainable, nutritious and delicious. We need these stories now.
I’ve wracked my brain to assemble only a few closing words after six years here, but accepting that no single page could ever do, I like to believe the archive I’ve helped create speaks for itself and that this issue is no different.
We begin with Annie Novak’s story on the Palestinian Heirloom Seed Library and its founder Vivien Sansour. Sansour started the project to reclaim and sustain seeds that have all but disappeared with the deepening Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including specific white cucumbers, distinctive fat purple carrots and a now threatened watermelon, among many other crops. Her story reminds us of food’s inextricable link to memory and identity as well as its ability to defy space and time.
Back in New York, chef Evan Hanczor then describes his seven-year-old Table of Contents dinner series at Williamsburg’s Egg that partners with emerging and established authors to turn their works into multicourse meals. In chef’s words, each dinner is “an opportunity for the one sense untouched by the act of reading—taste—to engage, and for the story to literally, viscerally, enter the body.” It’s an experience that transports diners in a way only food can.
Dan Saltzstein then profiles Oona Tempest, a 26-year-old chef wunderkind who, despite significant obstacles—including battling a chronic illness and being a white woman in a world mostly populated by Japanese men—has skyrocketed into the city’s upper sushi strata. She opened her own place near Union Square earlier this year and is dishing omakase on her own terms.
My longtime colleagues and collaborators Bridget Shirvell and Alicia Kennedy also point us to booze brands pushing the sustainability envelope without compromising quality while, finally, we share food itineraries in two often overlooked destinations: a hidden agritourism gem on the well-worn trek to Machu Picchu and our own Staten Island that couldn’t be more accessible.
In parting, I’m deeply grateful to you, our readers, for allowing us to tell these stories. None of them would have been possible without a city’s worth of freelancers and a tight-knit team who make these publications what they are. Leading them has been a responsibility and honor unlike any I could have ever imagined.