Graze shows off food’s literary side
By Paul Sullivan For The Courier-News July 8, 2012 1:06AM
Co-founders of Graze magazine, Cyndi Fecher and Brian Solem at Al’s Café in Elgin. | Paul Sullivan Photo
Updated: September 7, 2012 1:15AM
Elgin natives Brian Solem and Cyndi Fecher, both with full-time day jobs as editors, have co-founded their own publication, a semi-annual publication titled Graze. A tag line on the back cover describes the publication as: “A food oriented lit mag dedicated to the food on your mind and the thoughts on your plate.”
The first issue, (68 pages, 9 X 9 trim size, 2/color, printed on recycled paper) debuted in April; the second is scheduled for release in October. Graze does not accept advertising. To continue funding Graze, the partners plan to host six food oriented events a year and sell single copies at $10. Said Solem, “We want to reinforce the idea of community around food and sharing in the gifts of the farm and the bar.”
With an attractive layout, Chicago-based Graze is a blend of features, poetry and photography. The opening feature story is titled, “In Search of Cambodia’s Ancient Stinky Cheese,” by Travis Thompson. He opens his personal account of food and travel in Cambodia thusly: “When a van dropped me in the middle of a Cambodian jungle in July, 2010, I carried a large backpack, a small shoulder bag, and a Cambodian/English dictionary.”
And this from a poem, “After the Party,” by Mark Mitchell: “Crudités left like airplanes/crashed in dip canyons.”
Fecher said, “Graze is more a journal than a magazine, something we hope people will keep.” Graze does not pay contributors. Neither Solem nor Fecher have a byline in the first issue. Said Fecher, “The only thing we wrote was the introduction, to say who we were , what we were doing and why. In one page! It was horrible!”
The pair found non-paid contributors for Graze on Craig’s list and other sites. “We did significant editing to some of the pieces,” said Fecher. “That’s always a balancing act, to improve the story without offending the writer or changing the voice. We had a writer at the launch party thank us for how we edited her submission.”
The two editors sourced some stories but basically published what people sent them said Fecher. They have more submissions for the second issue. “For art and photography we made more requests because we knew what we wanted.”
Fecher and Solem both enjoy editing, design and events. Solem said Graze events will always feature food, music and literature. Event admission price will range from $5-$10. An event centered around a farmers’ market is scheduled for August.
One recent Graze event featured invited experts speaking for five minutes about their specialty. An expert from Shedd Aquarium spoke about sustaining the world’s fish population. Another expert talked about making a perfect pie crust. “Every expert wanted more than five minutes time,” said Fecher. “But the idea was like speed dating for the mind. If someone wanted more information, they could pursue it on their own.”
Graze is available for purchase at Elgin Books and Coffee, or online at grazemagazine.org.