Alibi V.21 No.36 • Sept 6-12, 2012 

The Mouthful

Eating the City

Your new food editor checks in

If you're a careful Alibi reader, you may have noticed that a new name appeared on the masthead last week. Food Editor: Ty Bannerman. That's my name, and hopefully it's still there this week. Go ahead and check. I know I will when this issue hits stands—and then I'll probably check it again.

It still doesn't feel real to me. Two weeks ago, I was a freelancer, excited that then-Editor-in-Chief Laura Marrich ran my articles in the paper. Now I am sitting at Laura's desk, writing on her computer and resisting the temptation to raid the mini-bar she cruelly left behind to taunt me. I'm still bewildered but very happy (and maybe a little drunk–don't tell Laura).

Working for the Alibi has been a goal of mine since I read my first issue after moving back to Albuquerque in the late 1990s. And to write about food? Bliss.

Food is important to me. So important, in fact, that I committed murder this very morning for the sake of food. Picture me, on my knees beside a raised-bed pumpkin garden, a gore-spattered rock held high in my right hand, mid-swing, and the pulpified bodies of a dozen squash bugs on the ground before me. There are only a few things that inspire this kind of primal passion in me, and food is one of them.

I committed murder this very morning for the sake of food.

But beyond my garden-induced bloodlust, I believe that food writing is never just about food. A region's cuisine is a reflection of that region itself. Here in New Mexico, we all know how important green chile, posole and other traditional dishes are to the state's history and identity. In Albuquerque we can expand that list to include a wide variety of ethnic and cosmopolitan foods, from the many excellent Vietnamese restaurants to the northern Mexican meals sold out of trucks, to multiple-course dinners at candlelit bistros. Each represents the contributions of the people and cultures who have helped grow a once-sleepy town into the vibrant city it is today.

And food is political as well. In an age when small growers struggle in the face of globalized agriculture and the growing prominence of genetically modified crops, there is no question that the decisions we make at the ballot box affect what winds up on our dinner table.

Above all else, I want to showcase how integral Albuquerque's food scene is to its community. From the weekly gatherings at the growers’ markets, to the cocktails and tapas happy hours at Downtown lounges, to the free meals provided to the hungry by organizations such as Food Not Bombs, I believe that what we eat tells us a lot about who we are.

Check the masthead again. Is my name still there? Good.