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'Lucky Peach': An Irreverent Look At Cooking

Peter Meehan is a former food writer for <em>The New York Times</em> and co-editor of <em>Lucky Peach.</em> He is also the co-author of the <em>Momofuku</em> cookbook.
/ Courtesy of McSweeney's
Courtesy of McSweeney's
Peter Meehan is a former food writer for The New York Times and co-editor of Lucky Peach. He is also the co-author of the Momofuku cookbook.

Next time you swing by the magazine stand, you might come across something called Lucky Peach. It's a food magazine. But don't expect "20 simple dinners you can make in 20 minutes." Instead, there's poetry, fiction and chefs swearing at each other.

Co-editor Peter Meehan founded the magazine with New York noodle impresario David Chang. He tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host David Greene he knew it would be a risky venture.

"I think it's one of those things where you're standing in a room, and you're like, 'Let's make a new food magazine.' And that's a terrible idea. The world does not need a new food magazine," he says. "But if it's such a bad idea that you can do a good version of it, then that's a cool challenge."

Meehan says the first issue of Lucky Peach is devoted to ramen — the beloved Japanese noodle soup — because of co-founder David Chang's background with noodle restaurants. Also, he says, because of the importance of ramen in Japanese culture.

"There are people who spend every weekend, you know, going and finding new bowls, experiencing new ramen that is there around Japan," he says. Japanese supermarket checkout lanes often boast four or five magazines devoted entirely to ramen.

And what's in the bowl is worlds away from the fried and dried dorm-room meal that many of us remember. Meehan says the true dish is so complex, he once wrote a recipe that stretched to 30 pages in order to explain everything that goes into a bowl of ramen, from the specific kind of noodles to the multilayered broth.

A proper bowl of ramen is a real culinary experience. "You're gonna slurp those noodles, you're not chewing them, you're not cutting them up, you're trying to inhale them like a human noodle vacuum, and they should slurp in a pleasing way," Meehan says.

"And then that broth that they're served in, it should dress the noodles, it should coat the noodles, it should flavor the noodles," he adds. "It seems like the simplest thing for a bowl of noodle soup to do, but when you're in front of a bowl and that's happening ... you're most of the way there."

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