BYÂ MATT ESSERT
Lewis Lapham could have retired in 2006 with an illustrious career behind him of nearly 30 years as the editor of Harper’s Magazine, but the septuagenarian didn’t stop there. Instead, in 2007, he launched Lapham’s Quarterly, a literary magazine which focuses each issue on one topic and publishes a collection of essays, speeches, quotes, art, and other excerpts both from the present and throughout history.
The most recent issue, the Summer 2011 edition, focused itself on food and delivered a great collection of captivating works. Pieces on feasts and famines, chefs and gourmands, and dishes and ingredients fill the pages with words dating as far back as 2200 B.C. Authors range from the ancients like Homer, Horace, and Plutarch to Benjamin Franklin, Duke Ellington, and Anthony Bourdain among the roughly 200 pieces in the magazine.
Not only does the publication feature narratives, but other attention-grabbing facts and excerpts scattered throughout the pages, like a collection of great quotes:
“A hungry man is not a free man” – Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson, 1952
“Thought depends absolutely on the stomach, but in spite of that, those who have the best stomachs are not the best thinkers” – Voltaire, 1770
“He who eats alone chokes alone” – Arab proverb
In addition, the Quarterly features a number of images and graphics like photos and paintings of food and cooking throughout history and a graph featuring “Do’s and Don’ts” of food and table manners around the world. For example, in Romania, it is proper to leave a dinner party right after the host recorks the wine bottle. But if you’re dinning with Salish American Indians, never wipe your hands on your hair after eating fish.
Currently, back issues of the magazine are available to order on the magazine’s website for $26 each, but new issues are only available through a $49 yearly subscription, and at the end of each year, the year’s four magazines are available in a $100 box set.
For more information on Lewis Lapham and his quarterly, click here to read Food Republic’s interview with Lapham himself.