Letter from the Editor, October 2022
In which food is a window to our past, and a door to our future.
Every year when it started to get cold, my grandma and I would set up shop in the kitchen and start our annual Christmas Eve ritual: making kolaczki.
The fruit–filled cookies, a staple in many Polish and Hungarian households during the winter months, were more than a sweet conclusion to our holiday dinner. They were also a key part of our relationship, a tangible way of showing love and appreciation for each other despite having few other common interests. We’d spend hours cooking the fruit and making the dough and assembling the individual cookies, and by the end we’d have caught up on months’ worth of family gossip and funny stories.
Even when dementia stopped her from being able to remember the word “kolaczki” and her hands became too arthritic to fold the dough over its filling, she still smiled every time she bit into one of those cookies—whether or not she knew what making them meant to me.
Food is the center of all our lives, even if we don’t always realize it. It isn’t just what keeps our bodies physically alive—we also live for the little moments where we laugh over a plate of pasta with friends, or share memories with our families as they pass down their culture through cooking. We bring soup to our loved ones when they’re sick, and we bring them cake and champagne when there’s something to celebrate.
Food can also feel impossibly mundane, just another task on our daily agenda that we have to pencil in between classes and clubs and part–time jobs. We eat every day, and when anything becomes that commonplace, it’s easy to forget how special it really is.
This dining guide tries not to take food for granted. We know that food is all these things and so much more—and we dedicated a full 52 pages to it for that very reason. We’ve covered everything from the best new restaurants to how a local chef and activist is using food to end mass incarceration, but the one constant is this: Food is never just a plate, it’s about bringing people to the table.