WASHINGTON — Malaka Gharib thinks most writers and publications take food too seriously. She, on the other hand, likes to play with it.
“I’m not an expert on restaurants in D.C. or an expert in local food, but I am an expert on imagination and playing with my food. And I am happy to find others who are the same way and share that.”
Gharib is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Runcible Spoon, a bi-annual zine publication she launched in 2010. If your first question is, “What’s a zine?” you’re not alone. It was mine too.
Gharib defines a zine as a small, independent publication that’s similar to a comic book in illustrations, but includes more narratives, essays and personal stories. Her zine focuses on food, and its contents vary based on each issue’s unique theme.
The Breakfast Issue is filled with illustrations depicting what people around the world enjoy for their first meal of the day. There’s also an essay on tea followed by recipes that include the beverage, and a cut-out of a four-sided fortune teller to help indecisive eaters choose their breakfast.
The issue dedicated to bland food includes a narrative on water; a photo essay of a contributor’s attempts to make rice cakes palatable and recipes for casseroles.
“We do things that tend to be a little bizarre,” says Gharib, 28.
The publication’s colorful commentary on food doesn’t stop with tongue-in-cheek illustrations and collages. In a past issue, a Brooklyn artist created an installation of what he thought an alien would look like while eating food, Gharib says.
“We try to think about food in a way that doesn’t romanticize it or fetishize it. We want you to feel that excitement or that anticipation of eating. What are the foods that make us daydream and salivate?”
When Gharib launched The Runcible Spoon four years ago with a Kickstarter campaign, she used it as a creative outlet to balance her interests and hobbies with her day job. She also hoped to tap into D.C.’s creative community.
“Through the magazine, I learned that