“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.”
‘Lost In’ has been publishing slim, stylish travel guides since 2015. Previous issues have been themed around Ibiza, Copenhagen and Milan, but for this latest edition they’ve switched up the format to get ‘Lost In Cooks’. That move feels timely: travel is a little problematic now, in our unpleasant new reality, but we can still eat. Head chefs from restaurants around the world share a favourite recipe: Kamal Mouzawak, from Tawlet restaurant in Beirut, provides a recipe for tabbouleh (quite easy to make from home); Jonathan Woolway from St. John in London shares a recipe for half a roasted pig’s head (trickier). So that you can travel to every major city from the comfort of your kitchen table. At the very beginning of the magazine there is an epigraph:
“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” — Orson Welles
The bold cover sets the tone for design that is satisfyingly simple. Page to page, the layout hardly varies, with two spreads per restaurant: one for a photograph of the chef; one for the dish. At the very back there are a series of VR codes you can scan with your phone to access ingredient lists and special dedicated spotify playlists to accompany the eating of each dish. These are eclectic; ‘rosewater pavlova’, for example, features both Korsakov and Goldfrapp.
One notable deviation from the chef/recipe format is an essay by the journalist Margot Guicheteau about Lafayette Coney Island, a hot dog restaurant in Detroit. Guicheteau’s description of the 12pm scrum is evocative:
“It’s rush hour. At the counter, greasy fingers are grabbing chili dog after chili dog for 2.60. Only the fingers change. Thick ones, skinny ones, and tiny ones.”
The thought of all those greasy, gloriously un-sanitised fingers makes me painfully nostalgic for a pre-pandemic lunch hour.