The Tenderloin is a quarterly international journal of new food writing. We seek to connect writers, artists, chefs, and restaurateurs to general readers, world literature enthusiasts, and other media, serving as a global literary conversation about how food tells us who we are—while striving for the inclusion of underrepresented voices and readers, always toward an adventurousness of perspective.
Our journal takes its name from San Francisco’s Tenderloin District. For those of us with families hailing from one of its diverse cultures—African Americans, Vietnamese, Greeks, Indians, Arabs, Cambodians, Chinese, among other immigrant communities, have long called the Tenderloin home—walking its sunbleached, chewing-gum-dappled sidewalks can inspire a desire to return to the kitchens of our childhoods, to the smells and tastes of the dishes that gave us nourishment and formed the foundation of our gastronomical compasses. A historically low-income neighbourhood located in the city’s rapidly changing urban centre, today the Tenderloin is probably the area that most embodies the uneven politics of food culture that complicate urban life: between many visitors for whom “food is sport,” and residents who are simply trying to carry on with their daily lives.
The “poet of the appetites,” M.F.K. Fisher, once wrote, “People ask me, why do you write about food, and eating and drinking? Why don’t you write about the struggle for power and security and about love?” This question, she remarked, would be delivered like an accusation, “as if I were unfaithful to the honor of my craft.” Her reply was that to say she was hungry, like most other humans, was not enough:
“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it.”
Never less than deeply sensual, Fisher added, “the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.”
It is in this spirit of eating well, together, intimately, unapologetically, and without pretension, that The Tenderloin invites its readers to explore journeys with food from around the world.
Pei-Sze Chow is originally from Singapore, where everyone is obsessed with eating. When not complaining about the lack of decent roti prata and xiao long bao in London, she writes and lectures on Scandinavian film and television. She tweets @peisze_c.
Megan René Bradshaw was raised in Filipino kitchens in California. Her writing and literary translations appear in the TLS, Asymptote Journal, The London Magazine, and elsewhere. She tweets @mrenebradshaw.