I’m on a JetBlue flight home from a Caribbean vacation in which meals were a serious preoccupation. There were six of us in a rented house in the Grenadines, and we had carried down a few good bottles of Bordeaux, some aged prime shell steaks, and a small tin of California caviar that was generously offered up for my birthday dinner on the last night. The rest was freshly caught fish, farm-grown fruits and vegetables, and delicious sorbets and baked goods artfully prepared by the gifted local woman who presided over the kitchen. That the house belongs to the proprietor of one of New York’s most celebrated restaurants, and that the cook spends three weeks in Manhattan each summer brushing up on technique, are significant details; my husband and I were the lucky interlopers—our friends knew the island, the residence, and its owner.
Food and dining are important subjects in the editorial mix of this magazine, and once each year we narrow our focus, devoting an entire issue to these interests alone. From what we’ve heard from you, our readers, trying new restaurants, tasting regional flavors, and visiting markets and farms are increasingly important motivations for getting out into the world. I share these passions: shopping for spices and seasonings in Budapest, Marrakesh, and South India; for hot sauces and condiments in Shanghai and Barbados; and for jams and honey in London and at Vienna’s Naschmarkt has yielded my own equivalents of Proust’s madeleines. The centerpiece of this issue is an ambitious project T+L editors have undertaken with CNN, “100 Places to Eat Like a Local,” which draws on the expertise of our editors, writers, and global network of correspondents, along with CNN’s iReporters; their insider recommendations will be spotlighted in on-air segments. We follow food-obsessed contributors Gary Shteyngart and Adam Sachs, respectively, to Dubai (“Eating Dubai”) and to Japan for ramen (“Bone Soup: A Love Story”). We journey to Provence with Luke Barr (“Return to Provence”), T+L’s news director and great-nephew of the food writer M.F.K. Fisher, whose footsteps he retraces here and in a forthcoming family memoir (The Invention of American Taste: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, Richard Olney, and a Season in Provence, 1970; Clarkson Potter). There’s much more—a celebration of historical cookbooks by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, a Decoder on that great food city of Shanghai, and news about the best wine country inns, plus our picks of the top cooking schools around the globe.
As for my trip, a snapshot from lunch on the final day: a picnic on the beach, prepared and attended by Basil Charles of Basil’s Bar, with lobster salad, rosé, and Caribbean rum cake. For someone with simple tastes, nothing could have been more satisfying.
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