Brooklyn Hollinger

“It’s pronounced ‘zeen’ like the end of magazine.”

I thought I was just going to a small book fair – a chance to meet some people, see some books, and have a chill time. I didn’t realize a few weeks later it would lead me to actively search for a book with an image inside of a New York Fries box being worshipped. But if I hadn’t attended the book fair, I would have never thought to pick that book up.

The first annual Harvest Book Fair took place at the CKUA building on October 14 and 15. This event intended to showcase a variety of businesses such as independent bookshops, publishers, presses, and more. I spoke with a number of vendors and learned about the importance of local literature – something that is extremely important to me. However one display stood out – Hungry Zine. Their operation was unlike the other tables I saw at the book fair. 

Before that day I had never heard of a zine. I learned it is a small publication of unique and self-published work. Hungry Zine is a “community-focused zine centering radical food stories, art and culture,” and it aims to amplify voices that are currently not present in food media. When I approached this table and met co-founder Kyla Pascal, I learned about their mission and wondered how I did not know about this business before. The concept is one-of-a-kind, and I never realized how diverse the genre of food media is. 

Kyla and I later set up a time to talk about Hungry Zine, and she was such an easy person to talk to. Our meeting ran as if we were old friends catching up for coffee. Kyla’s warm and welcoming personality created an environment where I felt comfortable enough to ask all the questions I had. As well, she spoke from the heart, which made for a smooth and overall natural conversation. In our conversation Kyla told me more about food media and the inclusion of diverse voices within their published zine, and the specifics surrounding the publication.  

Hungry Zine originated in 2020 when co-founders Kyla Pascal and Kathryn 君妍 Gwun-Yeen Lennon noticed the absence of people of colour and minority groups in food media.

Kyla (left) and Kathryn (right)

“As women of colour, we were noticing food media really wasn’t very representative of us, especially in Edmonton,” Kyla said. 

She described how Hungry Zine started up around the time that Bon Appetit, an American food magazine, was underpaying their chefs of colour in comparison to their white counterparts – despite having the same responsibilities and doing the same work. As she spoke I could hear the passion in her voice surrounding this issue; it is clear that these societal concerns are something she and Kathryn hope to bring awareness to through the zine, and in their conversations with others. 

“ [We] like to champion and amplify the voices of folks you don’t hear too much,” Kyla expressed.

Hungry Zine has had a number of print editions: Home Cooking, Preserves, It’s Complicated, Restaurants, MALL FOOD, Land + Water, Hot + Spicy, and Funeral Foods (still in progress). Each edition has a specific theme relating to food and stories, and Kyla and Kathryn get their inspiration for the issues from a number of places. Of course I had to ask where this inspiration comes from. 


“Sometimes somebody pitches us something during our call for submissions that has nothing to do with the current theme, but it is actually a really good idea,” Kyla remarked.

I appreciated that she said this, as sometimes it can be difficult to follow a certain theme when writing; I know it’s something I struggle with as a writer.

Kyla persuades people to submit their ideas for pitches even if they feel “super nervous” or that their work “isn’t ready.” She encourages people that “you just have to write, and you just have to put it out there.”

This was comforting for me to hear, as I still consider myself a new and developing writer, but she reassured me (and other writers) that “feedback is so helpful and valuable, and we’re such a good starting spot.” 

“We can also be inspired by things that are happening in current events,” Kyla explained. 

Global issues such as climate change, and even warfare, are factors they keep in mind while coming up with themes for their zine. For example the Land + Water edition explored the on-going climate crisis; specifically who in Canada is responsible for the food we eat, and the land we live on and consume. I admire that they take these factors into consideration when brainstorming their themes, as I think it is important to consider how the world around us affects our stories. 

In the Mall Food issue, the story by Luigi Pulido ‘I’m just at the mall’ describes the author’s sense of a queer community they feel at the West Edmonton Mall food court: “We shared a bento box at the food court and we felt an unspoken sense of comfort being invisible, hidden, and almost protected.”

This issue showcases some of the values that Hungry Zine amplifies; stories from immigrant families, queer individuals, those experiencing low-income, and more. These are the people whose voices are not usually heard in food media—the voices that Hungry Zine is attempting to strengthen and accentuate. 

After she explained their process of coming up with themes, accepting submissions, and the overall process of creating their zine, it is clear that these kinds of local literary works need to be amplified. Moreover, my perception of food media has changed from a boring coffee table magazine about Christmas baking, to a narrative that focuses on real people from all walks of life, and their relationship to food. These stories and local businesses are essential to Edmontonians’ consumption of diverse media; and Hungry Zine is one of the many Edmonton-based publications that can achieve that. I know that I’ll be looking out for their next issue the next time I’m at a local bookstore. 

I also know now it’s pronounced ‘zeen,’ like the end of magazine. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is New-York-Fries-578x1024.jpg

You can visit Hungry Zine’s website for more information, and their online store has their print and digital editions. Their work is sold across Canada in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Saskatoon, Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax. In Edmonton you can find them at Audreys Books Ltd, Glass Bookshop, Paper Birch Books, and Edmonton Arts Council.