Adios, Gourmet magazine

I’m still getting over the shock of the abrupt closing of Gourmet magazine. Founded in 1940, it always seemed to be part of the national fabric, reassuring, inspirational, and essential. I remember peeking into my mother’s copy of the massive, elegant “best of Gourmet” cookbook (edited by Vincent Price!) and imagining cooking and eating the food it described. Now it’s gone, just like that, another victim of the recession. But then I realized that the last time I bought a copy was five or maybe even six years ago, and I never finished reading it. . . perhaps a victim of something more than the recession?


Bill said...

sad too; my mother subscribed since issue #1, & i since 1970s; i've kept most of them, for some strange reason

writeit said...

Sorry to be replying to this so late, but I wanted to look at the last two issues of Gourmet (October and November 2009) to get my thoughts together, and they are: The articles are too short and the pictures are too big.

I too had a collection of three or four boxes of Gourmets that I used to carry around. I also stopped reading it two or three editors ago when I decided the magazine just wasn't being written for me anymore. Although I love food and wine and far-flung places, I am basically a reader, not a cook and not a world traveler, and of course I may have somehow grown out of the Gourmet demographic age-wise.

To get my attention, a magazine or newspaper must be a communication from somebody I can enjoy, trust, identify with, believe. When I buy a chef's cookbook, these being all the rage these days, I am bringing the author into my home. He or she becomes a trusted friend, somebody I learn from. Maybe the author amuses me, maybe sets an example.

Among the great things I have taken away from Gourmet are two books of Gourmet essays written by the late Laurie Colwin. She seems like something of a kid sister to me, a kid sister who can tell me something about food and make it all sound good.

Somehow, Gourmet lost all of the touches that touched me. These last two issues looked like they had been thrown together by a screaming art director who couldn't cram enough big photos onto the pages while battling with a foodie editor who couldn't cram enough recipes onto the pages, all the while forgetting that I don't want to be blitzed with too much color photography and I certainly don't want to be deluged with recipes I am never going to cook from.

I just want my authors and editors to talk to me, to be gentle, helpful, courteous, kind. Like a good Boy Scout.

Gourmet appears to have forgotten that, and it died. That's my take on it.