Letter from the (guest) editor
I have always tried to steer away from spending too much time with cookbooks or at restaurants, studying the way other chefs engage with food. In actuality, when I am in a new place I would much rather spend time in the home of friends or, perhaps, convince someone to let me into their home so we can share a meal together. I think you learn more about a place that way. The domestic space: a home space off the beaten path. These are the food spaces I liken to the veins from which vitality flows through the body of a city. How are home-cooks thinking about ingredients? How do they vision ‘family meal’? Why does agriculture—or any sort of cultural recognition matter to them? These people are at the core of some of my favorite food experiences. There is magic in humility and pragmatism and anyone who has ever had to provide a meal for a hungry family knows that this takes guts.
When I first came to New York, it was in pursuit of a degree in Visual Art. I was accepted into Cooper Union and it really shaped me into a different person as moving to a city often does. However, what remained the same was my commitment to inviting folks into my home to share meals with them. I realized through my cooking practice that being an artist was in fact about making not just any image, but a generous one, while simultaneously being held accountable for the images and ideas that we put out into the world. What's more fascinating is everyone does this very thing regardless of whether or not you consider yourself creative. We are all constantly sharing our thoughts and ideas with each other despite which station in life we choose to occupy. Being the type of person who can make intentional decisions about how those thoughts, ideas, decisions, affect the lives of others—that takes guts. Guts is about risk: having foresight, looking beyond what our natural sight would normally allow.
Guts as a symbol for the inner us—specifically our stomach—is fitting because what we feel in our core often dictates how we decide what actions to take—call it intuition. Sometimes it's just a tool that help us check in with ourselves, telling us where we are at with our meal or with something we saw that was unpleasant; it's a feeling we cannot shake. Josh and I reached out to the artists and writers featured here because they all have a distinct relationship to a vision about the world around them, be it through an experience with guts as an actual food product, the guts it takes to carve a space out for oneself in society, or how we communicate desire. Guts is a vital element to the magic of food and many lives everywhere.
—DeVonn Charles Francis