With The Gourmand winning the Stack Awards’ Magazine of the Year last week, the unprecedented Lucky Peach releasing tremendous issue after tremendous issue, and Put An Egg On It fulfilling the gap in messier, down-to-earth food journalism, it’s difficult to say that we need any more indie food journals. Anyone who has kept up to date with The Gourmand et al. and who read The New Yorker’s food special a few month’s ago might have had their fill of gastronomic stories. Yet new food magazines keep springing up all the time; last month we highlighted the inaugural issue of the elegant Leon, and now we have the chunky, glossy Sabor in from the Netherlands.
I was unsure when I saw a new culinary mag, but what Sabor does is enticing; it’s a magazine that draws you into its writing as soon as you pick it up. The articles are hefty and in-depth, with academics and serious writers contributing meaty stories to the pages.
Sabor originally started out in 2013 as an iPad app-based magazine. It looked more like a traditional glossy, with an elaborate masthead and carefully curated food photos on the cover like something from a recipe magazine. This first issue of its relaunch is bolder in its visual approach and, as a result, it looks more at home in shops like do you read me?!. Yet the fact that editor Fermin Albert has created magazines before this is evident from the Sabor’s confidence and maturity.
What stands out the most from other food-focused publications is Sabor’s attention to illustration. All the illustrated figures are based on real people, whether chefs or interviewees. I find this very interesting—it totally immerses the reader into the world of the magazine. “From its inception, Sabor had to be about humans and their relationship with food,” says Albert. “The people behind the food, the people that produce it, the people who cook it… Hence the focus on the portraits. We wanted the people behind the food to be centre stage.”
Albert’s reasons for starting the magazine are clear and distinctive. “I feel that readers like myself aren’t served properly by the current crop of culinary journals,” he explains. “We wanted a magazine that was more… mature, direct, and fuss-free, while still having an edge. We didn’t want to use food solely as an excuse for creative expression.”
Albert is well aware of the competition and conscious of where Sabor fits in that space. “I would be careless if I didn’t mention publications like The Art of Eating, Petits Propos Culinaires, and Gastronomica, which are all doing serious reporting on foot culture. But these publications aren’t readily accessible,” he says. “In the mainstream, Lucky Peach is doing a great job. Then you have the New York Magazine and The New Yorker food issues. Sabor is poised to occupy a unique space between all of these publications.”