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Review: The Runcible Spoon ‘Cheap Issue’

As a sucker for indie magazines I was pretty sure I would enjoy a ‘foodish-themed’ quarterly from Washington DC, but when my copy of The Runcible Spoon arrived dressed in shiny purple foil, I felt my heart melt and I was certain my review would be skewed in its favour.

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Opening the packet, I worried that I would have to bend the truth for what I already knew was going to be a positive report. I mean, while I ‘get it’ that The Runcible Spoon is a zine put together in the traditional manner, as an illustration graduate I have a high standard of expectation for bubble writing. Then I got stuck in and I can safely say, perhaps embarrassingly, that I haven’t enjoyed reading anything this much in months. In fact, I’ve been in a bad mood this morning but The Runcible Spoon has managed to keep my forehead from my desk and my soup from my laptop.

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While it’s a new one on me, The Runcible Spoon has been going a fair while, the Cheap Issue being volume 3, issue 12. The zine’s super low-fi aesthetic befits the content which is genuinely funny, original, concise and eminently readable. In other words, The Runcible Spoon might purposefully look like something your teenage daughter threw together on the college photocopier, but its editor Malaka Gharib clearly knows who to ask and how tell a joke.

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I enjoyed Mike Hogan’s piece on the sandwich Elvis Presley boarded his private jet to binge on and the trio of poems by Jeannine Bergers Everett, but I feel smarmy but genuine in saying that not one piece lets the thing down. To begin, the ‘Runcy Asks’ column shares student food memories of some surprising ‘big guns’ like Sam Bompas of Bompas & Parr and Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan, founding editor of The Kitchn. At the end, ‘the Unofficial Shitty-Liquor Appreciation Matrix’ gives brief but believable review of some of the United States’ roughest liquors.

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The recipes are here mostly as a vehicle for storytelling, as they should be, arguably, for even I can admit that the world contains TOO MANY RECIPES. The Runcible Spoon has really gone to town on its theme, featuring recipes for portion control condiments, gas station pie, a punch made with 1:1 cola and red wine and ‘I have 20 grandchildren’: a soup made with a box of macaroni, beef stock and an optional sposh of Worcester sauce ‘for the adventurous eaters’. A particular highlight for me is the recipe for butter poached Maine lobster ‘adapted for vegetarians on a budget who shop at Safeway and don’t have much time to spare.’

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In summary, the Runcible Spoon represents a really welcome break from my food-orientated Twitter feed that streams an endless list of articles on food poverty and economic collapse interspersed with Instagram snaps of pseudo-celebrities’ lunches. In fewer words, The Runcible Spoon looks fun to make, but it’s funner to read. I look forward to the next.

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The Runcible Spoon is available to buy online here at £4.40 plus shipping.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of The Runcible Spoon ‘Cheap Issue’ free of charge from the publisher. This review reflects my honest opinion.

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About Chloe King

I'm a freelance writer, designer and webby type. I live with my husband and daughter in the south of England. I like to cook and can throw a good party.

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