“It’s just dinner.” As a server, this was my mantra for when I was drowning in the weeds — for when certain catastrophe hung in the air like a gas leak waiting for a match. It was like orientation in a riptide. After all, we were dealing with food, not brain surgery, there were no lives at stake. But in the throes of a full house and a looming kitchen crash, even the smallest bumps felt gut-wrenching, life-altering, and intense. In the midst of chaos, it was comforting to be reminded that for all of the dramatics that go down on a busy Saturday night, in the grand scheme of things, fine dining is not the be-all and end-all of life. Sure, I forgot to ring in table 10's salads before its entrées hit the table and the woman's cutting her steak like she'd rather be cutting me. But hey, tomorrow is another day and it will all be over soon. It's just dinner ... or is it?
While food has always been a unifying factor within a community, the culture of eating and drinking in Atlanta has never so thoroughly permeated our lives. Whereas chefs were once the sole gatekeepers of culinary mysticism, diners are educating themselves with unprecedented access to food media resources. People are in tune with the trends, setting higher standards for Atlanta's food industry, and keeping everyone on their toes. They eat and Tweet, and follow their favorite food personalities with vigor. In Atlanta and beyond, this popular obsession with food culture has revolutionized the way we eat.
This year, CL's Food Issue explores Atlanta's food fetishes and all the obsessive, niche cultures that thrive before this new altar of food worship. We asked local chefs to shed some light on the meticulous relationship between a cook and his or her knives, explored the psychology behind real-life food fetishes like "gunge," and discovered the eccentricity of cellaring craft beer. Don't be shy to pick your poison: We've got Asian recipes, amaros, and confessions from a texture freak. This issue is dedicated to the makers, the doers, and, of course, the eaters, as well as the booze nerds and beer geeks, and anyone else who has allowed their passion for food to shape their way of life.
— Stephanie Dazey