For the second year in a row, Smithsonian Magazine has unveiled its Food Issue just in time for Memorial Day. The magazine has a solid track record of publishing excellent long-form food writing—after all, its namesake museum is home to Julia Child’s kitchen—but editor Michael Caruso only unveiled a dedicated food issue last year. The 2013 installment features the return of big names like Mimi Sheraton, along with in-depth examinations of food through the lenses of travel, science, and even evolutionary psychology.

The biggest draw for readers will likely be the transcript of a dinner table conversation between ex-Gourmet EIC Ruth Reichl and sustainability czar Michael Pollan, which sounds like a hybrid between a mutual career retrospective and every food nerd’s dream dinner party. But equally fascinating is Tom Vanderbilt’s investigation of the science behind human taste, in which he visits military kitchens and international conglomerates to figure out why food preferences vary so much from individual to individual.

The remainder of the magazine fluctuates between straightforward journalism and more literary endeavors, including some brand-new verse from everyone’s favorite modern poet, Billy Collins. Other highlights include a look at the Mast Brothers-esque aesthetic of Philadelphia’s recently revived Shane Confectionery, and ex-Times critic Mimi Sheraton’s reflections on the ten best meals of her storied eating career. If your interest is piqued (and it should be), the entire issue is available online through the link below.

[via Smithsonian Magazine]