Good Reads: Club Sandwich will get your cultural tastebuds tingling

The magazine’s new chocolate-themed issue comes with *actual* chocolate for the ultimate meta reading experience. Here, editor and art director Anna Broujean tells CR why food’s social and cultural influence goes far beyond the plate

While most food magazines rely on the tried and tested formula of recipe ideas and interviews with celebrity chefs, indie mag Club Sandwich focuses on an entirely different side of our relationship with food.

Halfway between a magazine and a book, the annual publication is run as a one-woman show by mixed media artist and writer Anna Broujean, who acts as the editor-in-chief, art director and designer.

Banner image: Alexander Coggin

Founded in 2015 after Broujean graduated from French photography school ENSP, the magazine began life as a way for her to flex her creative muscle. “I was doing a residency in Montreal for six months and I wanted to come back to Europe with something different for my portfolio,” she says.

“While studying, I interned at the publishing house called Actes Sud, where I was working on producing art books. I wanted to create a magazine that could gather everything I knew how to do and that would give me enough space to experiment. I need to learn new things all the time or I get really bored. I have a very weird resumé thanks to that!”

From the beginning, Club Sandwich’s mission has been to explore the cultural and social significance of food. “I’m passionate about food in a theoretical approach and at that time, I couldn’t find magazines talking about food as a social science, while still being fun and with a strong interest in art. In my vision, those three elements had to be linked. Articles range from history, sociology and anthropology to economy, politics and art,” says Broujean.

Each issue of the bilingual mag is themed around a different food item. Issue one was devoted to the humble egg, with features addressing everything from what throwing an egg means as a political statement to the cult of egg cup collectors.

Hot Cocoa, by Lisa Vaccino

Subsequent issues have delved into mushrooms – including a piece on the moral issue of eating mushrooms as a vegan – and pickles, with a feature looking at how the food was born out of a necessity to preserve fresh cucumbers during a period of scarcity.

In its latest issue, the magazine takes on our perception of chocolate. “When choosing chocolate as a theme, we thought it would be a playful, fun issue. But as we dug around, so many darker themes appeared: colonialism, sexism, racism, slavery, public health issues. We decided to dive head first and accept that it would be a more challenging issue than the ones before,” says Broujean.

Features include how advertising has commodified the black body to sell chocolate throughout history, and how white chocolate is tied up with social class issues, along with a piece on why most chocolate desserts are inspired by the shape of landscapes.

There is also a series of brilliant artist commissions, including Alexander Coggin turning his lens on a chocolate spa, and each pre-order of the issue comes with a bar of Tony’s Chocolonely, a chocolate company committed to fighting modern slavery and child labour in cocoa farms in West Africa.

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Every pre-order of our chocolate issue comes with *actual* chocolate, to enjoy while reading for a meta experience! – Working on this issue was a rude awakening that most of the chocolate industry still relies on horrible practices (you can read about it in the magazine). When looking for a partner for the presales, it was essential we found a company that shared our values. We're so glad some people are doing things right, like @tonyschocolonely_fr a chocolate company committed to fighting modern slavery and child labor in cocoa farms in West Africa. – That's the chocolate you'll get when you pre-order the magazine and yes, it's delicious. Pre-order link in bio ???? – ???? @annabrjn

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As for the design and art direction of the issue, the cover features a piece by the late Latinx artist Chuck Ramirez (“I chose it because it shows chocolate without actually showing any chocolate,” says Brojean), while inside its pages is an eclectic mix of aesthetics and artworks by well-known and emerging artists.

“I’m not a graphic designer so I have a lot of freedom – or at least, I allow myself a lot of freedom,” says Broujean. “When I started the project, I wanted a magazine that could be poppy and serious, fun and clever, so that’s the way I’m designing it. I like colours and I don’t like following rules. I don’t have a layout and for every piece in every issue, I start designing from scratch.”

Looking ahead to the next issue of Club Sandwich, Broujean is determined that it should be more eclectic than ever. “Right now, my main focus is to make the magazine as diverse and inclusive as possible,” she says.

“I started working on the chocolate issue in 2018; we then had to switch and release the pickle issue. When I came back to chocolate in 2019, I realised that I was reaching out to the same kind of people. I then spent a lot of time looking for different outlets, going to different sources, communities, spaces, and I’m so excited with the talent I came across. As a result, the chocolate issue has a diverse group of artists but definitely not enough. I can’t wait to start working on the next one.”

The Chocolate Issue is out now;