Gourmet: A Letter to Si Newhouse


CIMG9879

Dear Si,

By now, you may have heard from others like me–the heartsick and the grieving, all mourning the demise of Gourmet magazine, a formidable kitchen companion to many for almost 70 years.

By now, you may have seen the words “iconic” and “institution” bandied about. You may have heard the sepia-toned reminiscing of armchair travelers and culinary voyeurs whose lives have been the better, even for just moments, because of Gourmet.

And you’ve probably heard the words: Save Gourmet.

Gourmet has been a victim of the economic downturn, to be sure. The financial reasons for the close are clear — its advertising revenue had plummeted 43% in the first half of 2009, a bigger drop than the industry average, and newsstand sales have suffered as well.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, Condé Nast chief executive Chuck Townsend said of Gourmet: “It is the epitome of Condé Nast photography and journalism, but it’s a poor business.” On the flip side, Bon Appetit, with its more accessible, recipe-heavy emphasis that hews more toward Rachael Ray than Anna Wintour, has fared better in this economy.

I get that. I do.

But I also mourn the broader cultural shift that this shuttering reflects — the move toward the practical instead of the aspirational. The embracing of the everyday and the 30-minute meals that populate it at the expense of the fantastical and the imaginative — the meals, the experiences, that many only dream of one day having.

Through Gourmet, I’ve been able to get an intimate glimpse of Paris through the young and newly infatuated Aleksandra Crapanzano’s eyes in the award-winning piece ”Benedictions.” I’ve also been transported to little Ragusa in Sicily, where I got to know the Modicana cow, which produces some of the richest milk in the world.

Many magazines tell stories such as this — Gourmet always did so memorably. 

Yes, the practical is essential — and right now, that’s what sells. But it must exist alongside the other side of food journalism — the one that enriches lives beyond just one meal.

Without the lush pictures and the glorious tales of meals made and eaten in far-flung locales, cooking and eating becomes reduced to just pots, pans, recipes and the mere act of putting food on the table.

And with the closing of Gourmet, we’re a big step closer to that.

Sincerely,

A Fan

 

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin

A New Red, White And Blue


CIMG6471

I’ve often said that when life gives me lemons, I make lemon thumbprint cookies.

For years now, this Bon Appetit recipe has been a source of comfort and relaxation — the process is so easy that these cookies are truly therapeutic to bake.

I suppose my friends may know by now that these tend to appear when I’m under some stress. There’s no stress in the air this July 4 weekend, however. (Unless you count my mammoth struggles with baking ciabatta for the first time — more on that later.)

Just a desire to create sweets with somewhat festive hues — yellow, red and sort-of-purplish blue come close enough for me.

Hey, I wasn’t about to whip out the food coloring.

Continue reading

A Fried Chicken Habit


Chick

I have been on a fried chicken bender.

It began with the ladies-of-the-night Thai chicken wings and continued the next day with bright-red Indian fried chicken for lunch and then a dinner of Indonesian nasi ayam penyet, a dish of rice and gloriously crunchy cumin/coriander/lemongrass-seasoned fried chicken that I’m still hoping will make its way across the ocean to New York City.

By the time I sat down to my next meal and saw the Malay fried chicken wings on the table, I knew it was time to admit: I have a problem.

Everyone has a comfort food and mine, somehow, is fried chicken.

Continue reading

Cardamom, A Love Story


CIMG3957 

I've had cardamom on the brain recently. And I blame Padma Lakshmi.

We weren't even talking about food–we were discussing jewelry for a Wall Street Journal fashion piece, for heaven's sake. 

But then the "Top Chef" host started describing a long gold chain that she liked that's flecked with little gold nubs. "Like cardamom pods," Padma explained.

I immediately began thinking about cardamom cookies and haven't stopped since.

Continue reading