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Food for Thinkers: Your Complete 16-Course Tasting Menu

Your handy bookmark-able guide to the all-you-can-read extravaganza of ideas, stories, opinions, and proposals that was GOOD's Food for Thinkers week.

Last week, as I hope some of you may have noticed, we hosted a six-day Food for Thinkers blogfest. With the launch of GOOD's new food hub, I wanted to stake out an expanded territory for food writing, and at the same time, start building a community of influences and inspiration.

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Food for Thinkers: A Few Good Menus

What menus can tell us about trends in design, culinary, economic, and urban history—and even the rise and fall of fish populations.



The New York Public Library's historic menu collection is one of the most impressive in the world, and its treasures are frequently featured on librarian Rebecca Federman's blog, Cooked Books. As part of Food For Thinkers, Federman chose a handful of curious examples—such as the way a childrens' section added to the Cafe Florent menu above tells the story of larger demographic changes in the neighborhood—to reflect on what makes menus such a fascinating subgenre within food writing.

Menus are ephemeral. They are used to convey information and when that information is no longer relevant, the item is often disposed of. The asparagus appetizer in April may not be available in August. The chocolate mousse from October 1st is not offered on October 31st.

However, like many pieces of ephemera, a menu's informational value rarely stems from its original, intended use. And that, for me, is where things get interesting.

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