Presents for Hungry Times : Mailbox Stuffers

It’s easy to order a gift subscription to a food magazine, but what your favorite cook might appreciate even more is a year’s worth of issues to a food newsletter. These small-circulation mailings can be gossipy and opinionated, technical and informative or homey and cute. And most of them are unavailable at general-interest newsstands. Here are a few worth considering.

It was mold, not witchcraft, that poisoned hundreds of Salem townsfolk in the late 1600s. That’s the conclusion of writers from the Center for Science in the Public Interest in the November issue of its Nutrition Action Health Letter.

Other health- and nutrition-related stories (a survey of the new “light” bacons, for instance, or the best and the worst in fast-food eating) keep readers up to date on current health studies, nutrition-related government legislation, and the pros and cons of new food products.

Nutrition Action Health Letter is published 10 times a year (monthly except for combined January/February and July/August issues). Annual subscription rate is $19.95. Write to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, 1875 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20009-5728. Or call (202) 332-9110.


The Mayo Clinic Health Letter, published by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, provides reliable, timely information on issues relating to health. Much of the information comes from Mayo’s own 1,100 physicians and research scientists. The best page in the newsletter is called Second Opinion, a reader Q and A column covering all health matters, from breast cancer to water in swimming pools. It’s important to remember, however, that the Health Letter is meant as a supplement to the advice of personal physicians, not a replacement.

Medical Essays and Index, also published by the Mayo Foundation, are offered as premiums for subscribers. The essays cover individual health topics, such as high blood pressure and ways of managing it.

Single copies of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter are available for $3; a one-year subscription is $24. To subscribe write to Mayo Clinic Health Letter Subscription Services, P.O. Box 53889, Boulder, Colo. 80322-3889. For information call Customer Services at (800) 333-9037.

With Tea Talk, A Newsletter on the Pleasures of Tea, you might discover a new place for afternoon tea, a buyer for your Aunt Tilly’s antique tea set, or facts about new and historical teas. For a quarterly subscription ($17.95 annually) write Tea Talk, 419 N. Larchmont Blvd., No. 225, Los Angeles, Calif. 90004. Or call (213) 659-9650. A 1992 subscription ordered before Christmas will include the 1991 holiday issue free of charge.


Garlic lovers on your Christmas list will get a kick out of Garlic News, a newsletter about the stinking rose prepared by the Fresh Garlic Assn. There are good recipes from cookbook authors, restaurant chefs and other food authorities, plus juicy information on garlic myths and tips, upcoming and past events. One-year memberships to the association, which includes the newsletter, are $5. Write to Garlic News, Fresh Garlic Assn., P.O. Box 2410, Sausalito, Calif. 94966-2410.

Check your favorite hotels for newsletters, if only to get a few recipes from the chefs. In this month’s Biltmore Hotel newsletter, for example, executive chef Roger Pigozzi featured loads of recipes served at a media event for the annual convention for the California Restaurant Assn. The newsletter announces cooking-class weekends with Pigozzi, wine-tasting luncheons at the hotel’s restaurant, Bernard’s, and other special events and promotions throughout the hotel. For a free subscription write to the Public Relations Office, Biltmore Hotel, 506 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, Calif. 90071. (213) 612-1536.

Restaurants too offer newsletters. One of the latest is Views From La Veranda, a one-page, bimonthly newsletter with recipes. The issue also announces a Wine of the Month. For a copy write to owner David Slay, La Veranda, 225 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills.

Western Chef, a glossy color monthly, was intended for the restaurant trade, but has become so newsy and fun to read, it’s worth a subscription if you’re a real foodie. Try out chef’s recipes, hear about their problems and be up on their events. The Restaurant Report’s column features a chef somewhere in the West. Seasonal foods are featured regularly. A one-year subscription is $18. Call (213) 395-6575 to order.


On the Cutting Edge, a bimonthly newsletter from Frieda’s Inc., a distributor of exotic produce in Los Angeles, gives subscribers information on the newest fruits and vegetables available in this country. You’ll also find recipes, nutritional information and advice on the best way to handle produce that may be unfamiliar to most shoppers. A one-year subscription is $11.95. To order write to OTCE, P.O. Box 54488, Los Angeles, Calif. 90058.

Savor is a new quarterly video journal with profiles on personalities, places and foods. So far, the star lineup has included Julia Child, Marion Cunningham, Jacques Pepin, Carlo Middione and Barbara Kafka. A two-hour single volume costs $29.95. Through January of 1992, as part of a special introductory offer, you can get four volumes for $89.96. It’ll be interesting to see how this self-described “new approach to food journalism” takes off.

For information on Savor, write Ed Dudkowski or Marijan Lynch, Video Magazine Publishing, Inc. 150 Shoreline Highway, Blvd., E., Mill Valley, Calif. 94941. Or call (800) 547-2867.

Walden Farms, a quarterly newsletter for dietitians and food professionals is also available to the general public interested in the health food business. You’ll get the latest scoop on product labeling from FDA, plus a few low-cal recipes you probably will appreciate after the first of the year. For a subscription write to Walden Farms, P.O. Box 352, Linden, N.J. 07036.