“You bit off more than you could chew, huh?”
It was a hokey pun, but I like hokey puns, and it fit so well that I had to give the co-worker who delivered it a polite laugh.
With this month’s sprawling, globally focused dining cover story, the PHOENIX team did assuredly bite off more than it could chew. Or at least chew easily.
We started out with a good but fairly routine concept: a food feature about different international cuisines and where you could find them in the Valley. But somehow it grew more ambitious than that. We would seek out every cuisine. From every country possible. And deliver a dining guide to our readers the likes of which they’d never seen before.
Grandiose stuff, eh? Well, here are the facts: Dine Around the World is 48 pages. That’s the largest single reporting endeavor we’ve ever done. And, yes, it required an outlandish amount of eating, researching, writing, shooting, designing and editing. The end result is much more like a “journal” than any story package I’ve managed at the magazine.
“But somehow [the issue] grew more ambitious than that. We would seek out every cuisine. From every country possible.”
Hopefully, the labor pays off in utility. Curious about where to find Danish smorrebrod in the Valley? It’s in there. Ethiopian wots? We lay it all out. Regional Thai cuisine? We even included a map!
Bringing this monster to life was also one of the most rewarding reporting experiences I’ve ever had – and I know editors Leah LeMoine and Maddie Rutherford, food critic Nikki Buchanan and art director Mirelle Inglefield, all of whom busted their rumps on the project, would agree. We talked to chefs and food professionals from all over the world – Hungary, China, Provence, et al. – and learned much. I found myself awash in small but meaningful revelations about the connectivity of food, marveling at one point on the similarity between soups in Thailand and Honduras, linked not by politics or trade, but the fruits of their environment.
Hopefully, you experience a similar “shrinking effect” while reading and using the guide – that sensation you get from travel, sometimes, when the world feels closer and friendlier.
Rest assured, the January/February issue of PHOENIX has a lot of other worthwhile stuff in it, but right now, I’m still chewing.