The news this year is all about big: big restaurants like New York City's Morimoto, with 208 seats; big wines like the 2003 Turley Hayne Vineyard Zinfandel, with a whopping 16.5 percent alcohol; big kitchen appliances like GE's 72-inch-wide refrigerator. In this issue, we look at the phenomenon and its influence on everything in the world of food and wine, from big flavors to larger-than-life chef heroes.

When choosing our culinary gods, we tend to look for people with big personalities who radiate the pleasure of cooking and eating. Who is their poster boy? Star chef Mario Batali, of course. F&W follows Batali to a track in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he holds a killer tailgate while watching the biggest spectator sport in America, Nascar racing. You've got to try his amazing lobster paella and pizzas, all cooked on monster grills.

We may be looking for big personalities, but we're also enamored of big foods—large cuts of beef, whole fish, hefty legs of lamb. This may sound odd, but think about it: We're roasting whole fish instead of fillets because we know that whole fish has more flavor and we also know that we'll end up with leftovers! Texan chef Tim Love delivers spectacular recipes for prime time (dinner parties) and anytime (casual meals the day after). Try his succulent braised pork shanks, then fold any leftover meat into tortillas to make wonderful quesadillas.

The trend toward big wine shows that Americans want immediate gratification—high-alcohol, approachable, fruity wines. Is this a good thing? F&W invited two top experts to debate the issue, with Robert Bohr championing a subtle old-world style and Brian Duncan touting what are affectionately called fruit bombs.

Do you prefer small over big? Nuanced rather than in-your-face? Take heart. One thing is certain in the world of trends: Next year a new one will take hold.

Dana Cowin

Where I'm Coming From

Notes from my recent expeditions.

Ordered a spectacular Spanish pressed sandwich called the Picante—with spicy chorizo, Mahón cheese, tomatoes and guindilla peppers—at the shop's take-out counter.
DETAILS 408 Broome St.; 212-219-5050.

Had the world's most delicious spicy braised artichoke from talented chef Dena Marino.
DETAILS 305 S. Mill St.; 970-925-6019.

Loved the lamb porterhouse with yogurt, mint and figs.
DETAILS 36 E. 20th St.; 212-777-8448.

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What's the largest number of people you've ever cooked for and why? I'd love to know.