I’ve had little time to cook this week. Subsisting mostly off cups of tea and bowls of reheated soup as I try to relieve myself from a lingering bout of the common cold, I read every piece in this issue wrapped in a blanket, deeply craving each plate of octopus, mie goreng, and “angry” pizza arrabbiata I came across. But what I noticed most in many of these appetizing reviews was a common theme I hadn’t quite expected: the challenge of the price tag.

Our Dining Guide remains our most well—read issue every semester, but I often have trouble reconciling our presentation of Philly’s best new restaurants with the fact that many of our student readers cannot afford them. Though I am no stranger to the worship of dinner party sovereigns like Ina Garten, and feel that food and the art of eating can be romantic to discuss, these topics are also fraught.

There is much to be gained from the lessons in flavor ingrained in every piece of this issue — ideas of what tastes good together and what doesn’t, notes that you can take with you to the grocery store, dining hall, or wherever you find your food. Because as much as this issue is about hot restaurants, it also does its best to present dining as the heart of community. 

Food need not be fancy or expensive, so long as we cherish and embrace the intimacy of a meal, with ourselves and with others. Even a simple glass of cheap red wine or plate of brown bread and olive oil can impart a magic that is both spiritually and physically filling if we allow it to be. Regardless of the price or setting, you will find this enchantment in every sentence printed here, because food, in so many ways, is the source of life. And after all, as M.F.K. Fisher wrote, “When shall we live, if not now?”