Food writing may be the last form of journalism that doesn’t divide us. Obviously, people will take sides when it comes to Piedmont versus Western North Carolina barbecue or the most poetic preparation of Raviolo al Uovo or Shrimp and Grits for that matter. But then those are healthy divisions, the kind that somehow actually bring us together. And this because good food always reconnects us to the land and to each other. And good stories about food remind us of that connection.
“When the snow glistens on the mountaintops and the wood stove brightens the darkest corners of my home,” writes Edible Asheville Managing editor Jen Nathan Orris, “I turn to pasta for sustenance.”
Who doesn’t share that sentiment? If not for pasta, those “layers of lasagna dotted with ricotta” she describes, then for some other soul-bolstering dish—say good old proletariat collards and black-eyed peas with plenty of Frank’s Hot Sauce and a fat goblet of Malbec?
This is what Edible Asheville does so well. Their tagline— “The story of food and drink in Western North Carolina”—puts the narrative nature of food front and center. For a town and region that has such a white-hot culinary and bar scene, it would be easy for our local food magazine to just showcase the latest breweries and restaurants. But Edible Asheville reminds us of what really matters, which are the connections, traditions, and people behind the ladle. At times it feels almost like a conversation you’d have out on the porch on a June evening, remembering the past generations of farmers, foragers, and homesteaders, the agrarian culture that’s deeply rooted of these mountains.
One key is the editorial direction led by Jen Nathan Orris. For example, the winter 2018 issue dives deep into fresh pasta- and sauce-making not just as a window into some of our local culinary schools (The Farmer’s Hands) and beloved local restaurants (Vinnie’s) but as stories of time-honored traditions. The articles lean in the best direction — inward — finding the connections between Sunday gravy and “an effort to recapture a time that’s lost, when families came together every week to share stories and laughter and joy over a great meal.”
The other key is the vibrant work of photo editor Erin Adams. She’s credited by Jen as with her ability to “take a kernel of an idea and turn it into a visual experience for readers” as well as her “incredible ability to capture beauty, from portraits to styled food shots and everything in between.”
As you can see from this brief interview, Erin is super modest, preferring to let her photos speak for themselves. But over the past several years, perhaps more than any other photographer in Asheville, she’s amassed a body of work that truly captures the visual story of the Asheville food scene, not to mention the people behind it, with powerful images of the chefs, homesteaders, brewers and teachers behind the scenes.
As with the written approach to Edible Asheville, you get the sense that the photography is a labor of love. Indeed, Erin mentioned, “It’s not about money. I just want to support the agriculture community here in this area.”
Check out the Spring 2018 Edible Asheville on newsstands now.