Zinesters Do It on the Kitchen Table: A Cookzine Sampler

By Milo Miller

Whether they’re personal, political, educational, or entertaining (and often all of the above) zines are a democratic form of media that exists to give voice to diverse points of view. Despite their heterogeneity, zine creators and zine readers all need to eat. From this need for common and uncommon comestibles zinesters produce cookzines.

As with other zines genres, there are not a lot of factors that define cookzines. In my definition, cookzines have recipes and provide a simple and practical way of adhering to a DIY ethos. Some include illustrations or photos, and some have narratives that go with recipes or help to frame the zine as a whole.

What follows is a sampling of cookzines from my personal collection. They live on the shelves in my kitchen, and while there is occasional crossover with the queer zines in the online archive at the Queer Zine Archive Project (QZAP)‚ with hard copies stored mainly in the dining room and office‚ these cookzines are of the nonarchival variety. My partners and I read them at the kitchen table. They have crumbs and stains and the love of many meals shared with lovers and friends imbued in their pages. The cookzine collection at QZAP-HQ is a feast for the heart and brain as much as the contents provide sustenance and pleasure for our bodies.

zines1111papatofusm(Original Import)Berns, Kittee. Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food. 2011. 86p. ¬Ω legal. $9. Distro: author PayPal
When I traded a copy of my cookzine Banarchy Now! with Kittee for a copy ofPapa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food at the Portland Zine Symposium this past summer, it was total love at first sight. In its 86(!) pages are good descriptions and easy-to-follow recipes for making all sorts of vegan and gluten-free dishes from Niter Kibbeh (herbed “butter”) and GF Injera (fermented crepes) to Ye’Abesha Gomen (greens) and Bakala Dinich W’et (soy curls and potatoes). Beautifully illustrated, the zine also features a glossary of terms and lots of resources to help readers on their journey to creating an Ethiopian feast.

zines1111wildfermentationsm(Original Import)
Katz, Sandor. Wild Fermentation. 2001. 36p. digest. $2. Distros: Growler, QZAP(free pdf), True Grit
This very well may be my favorite zine in QZAP’s archive. Sandor explores “Cultural Manipulation” through food fermentation. I use his recipe for Brine Pickles often and have tried my hand at cheese, sourdough, and kimchi recipes as well. In his end notes, Sandor writes about fermentation in terms of social change and about how, as a person living with AIDS, he considers fermented food part of his healing process.
zines1111foodstampsm(Original Import)Paine, Virginia. Food Stamp Foodie #2. 2011. 12p. ¼ size. $2. Distros: Etsy
I’ve loved Virginia’s illustration style since she donated copies of her diary comic to QZAP a couple of years ago, and I’m just as wowed by her vegan cookzineFood Stamp Foodie. With a focus on low-cost ingredients, lots of flavor, and filling dishes, there’s a lot of win here. Tomato-Coconut Soup, Ridiculous Cake (and frosting!), and vegan Na’an Pizza are standout recipes, and her quirky and cute illustrations make for a quick and enjoyable read.

zines1111sorawsm(Original Import)
Ploeg, Josh. So Raw It’s Downright Filthy. 2011. 52p. ¬º legal. $4. Distros:Amazon, Microcosm
Josh’s new zine is awe-inspiring and challenging in a number of ways. His take on raw food is refreshing‚ it’s not something to be afraid of, and anyone can do it (especially if you’re punk enough). At the same time, there seems to be an underlying assumption that readers will have access to the types of markets found mostly in urban areas like Los Angeles. Well printed and bound by Microcosm, this zine juxtaposes delicious recipes with photos of trash and toilets and the detritus of humanity.

zines1111browniebakingsm(Original Import)Russel, Josh. Zen and the Art of Brownie Baking. 2002.44p. digest. $1. Distros:Microcosm, Moxie
This zine is all about brownies and the revolution they bring. Last winter we baked pans of them following Josh’s recipe and then modifying it by adding cayenne and ginger for extra warmth to get through the long Wisconsin nights. Josh also provides recipes for brownie scrambles, waffles, pancakes, and a brownie smoothie. With the sweet come discussions of analyzing and rejecting oppression, critical consumption, and governmental militarism. Overall, it makes for some very yummy reading.

Author Information
Milo Miller, one of the cofounders of the Queer Zine Archive Project, has been cooking and making zines since age 16. In addition to archiving zines, ze has also produced a number of queer zines and cookzines. Zis most recent, Banarchy Now!‚ The Further Adventures of Soyboi and Friends, is available from Stranger Danger distro. Currently, Milo lives in Riverwest, Milwaukee, where ze plots nonviolent revolution around a boomerang Formica table bearing swanky cocktails and yummy edibles with zis partner in crime and their pet rock, NigelJenna Freedman, who coordinates and edits this column, is Director of Research & Instruction andZine Librarian at Barnard College Library, New York. She is also a librarian zinester (Lower East Side Librarian, among others)
SELF-eLearn More
SELF-e is an innovative collaboration between Library Journal and BiblioBoard® that enables authors and libraries to work together and expose notable self-published ebooks to voracious readers looking to discover something new. Finally, a simple and effective way to catalog and provide access to ebooks by local authors and build a community around indie writing!