Opening Letter in Issue 6: Mind & Body
Lately, it can be hard to hear clearly. With the commotion of all that’s happening around the world, and nearly every institution undergoing a reckoning of sorts (the food industry being no exception), how do we decide where to direct our attention? These stories change and multiply by the minute, and we resolve to stay on top of them all, to listen closely, and to take action. But after a while, it begins to sound like just a lot of chatter, and feel like our attention is being exploited. Yes, we need to reclaim our time. But also, we need to reclaim our focus.
The necessary antidote is a mind and body tune-up, and this new issue presents the opportunity for our queer communities to share some strategies and solutions. We’re talking queer wellness, self care, and much more. Let’s start with our newest cover stars Elise Kornack and Anna Hieronimus, our very first cover subjects who identify as women. They ran the Michelin-starred 12-seat restaurant Take Root for four years, just the two of them, until at their peak of “success” they closed it down. That announcement took their fans and the food industry by surprise, but as they share in their story, at some point the collateral stress and anxiety of running the restaurant in Brooklyn just didn’t make the endeavor worthwhile. “How do we define success?” they asked themselves. “And what are we willing to sacrifice in order to have it?” Armed with a new mandate that prioritizes their mental and physical wellbeing, they moved two hours north of New York City to the Catskills region to lay the groundwork for something new and entirely different.
Then there’s Queer Anga, a wellness collective in New York City that hosts monthly events that combine yoga, food, and guided group conversation. In the short time Queer Anga has been around, it’s become clear that they’ve tapped a wellspring of desire for such gatherings. For the collective’s culinary curator Ora Wise, events like theirs have been resonating because they offer a corrective to a balance problem. As queer folks, she says, “we’re often really good at drinking and partying, and that’s sooo important!” she says. “But we also need to take care of ourselves in other ways. We can fail miserably to invest in and value certain kinds of being ourselves and being well and being in our own bodies and being with other bodies.”
While Queer Anga is a new site for queer community-making, a long-standing one is coffee shops, and writer Tien Nguyen surveys their rise and fall (and rise) over the past 60 years in the United States. She starts with the 1959 riot at Cooper’s Donuts in Los Angeles, and sweeps to today at Cuties, a year-old coffee shop where the collectivist, safe-space values are not just a gesture of the shop’s spirit but made explicit in their posted Codes of Conduct. “We’re not perfect,” one of its owners tells Tien in her piece. “These codes of conduct change and fluctuate based on feedback and community needs. But setting that intention and having core tenets is super important.” The Queer Anga founders echo this sentiment—that a clearly stated intention is nearly as important as everything they hope to achieve in their spaces.
We further explore mind and body from a self-care perspective with Aaron Hutcherson's four occasions calling for specific comforts in the form of recipes, and a stunning portrait series by Eivind Hansen that also features low-APV cocktails by apéritif expert Rebekah Peppler. In Leah Kirts’ years-in-the-making story about queer vegans, she examines the similarities of coming out as gay and coming out as vegan, arguing that the fight for animal rights has lots in common with the cultural fight for queer rights. And in Caroline Lange’s profile of veteran food writer Jessica Battilana, Jessica considers her unique vantage point being a mom in a queer family in San Francisco (something she describes being a "dime a dozen" for her hometown)—but still finding ways to push the needle through her cookbook Repertoire, which is the first we’ve seen that puts a queer family prominently at its heart.
We also travel to Salt Lake City, Utah, to celebrate Pride Weekend with two of the city’s gay dignitaries Moudi Sbeity and Derek Kitchen. They were public faces of marriage equality in 2013 when they sued the state to overturn its ban on same-sex marriage, and won. That experience set them off on careers as restaurant owners and community leaders, where they’ve got laser focus on their goals and an open mind set on how they can achieve them. And to the extent that we can predict our futures, why not crack open a queer fortune cookie? We hope you enjoy Zac Kostyrka’s fortunes brought to life with art by Rooney (which also appear on the endpapers of this issue). Each one comes with a set of lucky numbers. Examine them closely, and you might find some secrets encoded.
One last note: as you may have noticed, we took some time on this issue. We love this magazine and the Jarry community that surrounds it, and because it’s very much a labor of love we sometimes need a little extra time not just to gather our thoughts and reexamine our approach, but to tend to our own minds and bodies, too. We thank you for your patience and for your continued support of this project. We hope you enjoy these stories—and that they ring clear!
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