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Gourmet Magazine


Heather
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Gourmet has been on my subscription list off and on for the last twenty-seven years and it's been slowly descending into irrelevancy since at least the 1990s. Initially I thought that Reichl as Editor in Chief was a great thing for the decaying magazine, but it's not turning out quite as expected. The writing and subjects are generally good, but the layout is cluttered, the attempts to be "edgy" fall flat, and much of the photography, like this month's cover shot, is at best unappetizing. It was inspiring for many years (I made the 50th anniversary dinner in its entirety, including this spectacular pistachio praline dacquoise) but I haven't had the urge to try a recipe in a long long time.

What do other Rockweilers think of Gourmet now?

(Mods: I haven't found a dedicated thread, despite searching several times. Feel free to merge is there is one.)

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Gourmet has been on my subscription list off and on for the last twenty-seven years and it's been slowly descending into irrelevancy since at least the 1990s. Initially I thought that Reichl as Editor in Chief was a great thing for the decaying magazine, but it's not turning out quite as expected.
I thought it improved when Reichl took over, but it's starting to drop off again. I don't know what it says about me, but I've always preferred Bon Appetit. I subscribe to both. ("Always," in that case, is about the same time frame you're talking about.)
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I subscribed to Gourmet but then canceled after the first year. Gourmet and, to some extent, Bon Appetit, remind me of those overwrought custom kitchens you often see advertised in their pages with Corinthian columns and other impossible-to-clean surfaces--something more for the armchair gourmet rather than the reader who likes to get down and dirty in the kitchen. The magazines are also so clotted with advertising that any substance they do contain is all but impossible to tease out. I prefer Food and Wine.

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Saveur.
Even though I do not like the new look of Saveur as much as the older style, I still enjoy it more than the Conde Nast duo. I especially like that they have a column dedicated to a Classic Fare, and give a history of the dish and a recipe (last month's Spaghetti Carbonarra is mind-blowing good, as was the recipe for Beef Stroganoff).

Gourmet/BA has simply become boring. It seems to me that the articles are getting longer and saying less, the article about Dublin was was all about travel, and up to the point where I became bored and quite reading there was nothing about food (I seem to remember Conde Nast owning a travel magazine where this article might make more sense).

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BA/Gourmet are a pair that I've gotten for a while now and I figure they are relatively cheap, so I just keep them. I get about 2 useful recipes a magazine, so I figure from that it's worthwhile. A lot of times they don't get read from cover to cover like Saveur or Imbibe.

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BA/Gourmet are a pair that I've gotten for a while now and I figure they are relatively cheap, so I just keep them. I get about 2 useful recipes a magazine, so I figure from that it's worthwhile. A lot of times they don't get read from cover to cover like Saveur or Imbibe.
I don't really read Bon Appetit as such. Mostly, I scan through for the recipes. I also usually can find a few useful recipes in most issues of BA. Saveur is one that I actually read through. I don't subscribe anymore, though.
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Cook's Illustrated is my favorite food magazine
Don't get me started on Chris Kimball. :blink:

I could deal with the travel articles, and the uninspired recipes, and the ad clutter if it weren't for the occasionally barf-inducing photography. Worst was the "music" issue, with the ribs on the cover that literally looked like crap.

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I was counting down the seconds to see when you chimed in! :blink:

FWIW, I like Cook's Illustrated. Different strokes, as they say...yes, CK can be obnoxious, but it really is helpful for me to have a reference to show the best way to cook things. That's not to say all the ways are the absolute best, but for someone who has not gone to culinary school, who gets home late and doesn't have time to cook often, has trouble following a recipe and can't remember what they did the last time that worked, it has been quite helpful. Especially when I was cooking every night to make sure my husband was eating and eating well just after his surgery. (I can never remember if oil goes in the pan when the pan is cold or hot, for example. And once I learn it, I do not retain it!)

Anyway, we stopped our subscriptions to Gourmet and BA years ago. Saveur hung on, as well as Chocolatier, but right now all we get is CI and Cooking Light (a gift)

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Someone needs to beat Gourmet's cover photographers over the head with the concept of color saturation. The cover photos for the last year or so have all been really washed out - very few warm colors, lots of pastels/grays, low lighting. Not really what you want when you're trying to make something look even remotely appetizing.

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I have had a complimentary subscription to Gourmet for the past couple of years. Like Heather, I subscribed on and off for years, first switching from Bon Appetit to the more "serious" magazine in the early or mid-eighties. After losing interest, I eagerly resubscribed when Reichl became the editor and felt the move rewarded when Dave Eggers reflected on his experience at a lobster festival, or when reading a personal reflection on British food and family by one of the magazine's copy editors that moved me profoundly.

You'll find visual analysis of the photography and graphic design of recent issues in this thread at eGullet.

As far as the cover of the new issue for April 2007 goes, I like the startling neon-Easter blue of the background and in principle, I'm all for the magazine's decision to document what food looks like as opposed to what shaving cream does on top of apple pie under hot lights with smoke from a cigarette rising behind the plate. However, the cake was baked too long and the crumb looks dry.

What bothers me more is the decision to create a signature look for covers and retain it for each and every issue. It's as if that nut-crumbed cake for an Easter dinner in the American South were a model on the cover of Vogue, Oprah on O or the glistening dip between two swelling breasts of Cosmo. The formula is boring.

Inside the magazine, Condé-Nast is indeed assuming a greater role in content as well as distracting graphics.* I agree with many others here. I'd like to point out, though, that travel articles were not always about food back in the Olden Days when tomatoes were "tinned" and ingredients were embedded in paragraphs instead of listed before the texts of recipes. It was because the magazine perpetuated a Eurocentric version of the American Dream in which the life of a privileged class of well-educated, moneyed elite represented the ideal. Readers were welcome to identify with or aspire to this Weltanschauung, or dip into it for a fantasy or two before going back to typing up an itinerary for the boss or plotting the Revolution. Exotic destinations, crown roasts, jeweled watches and hand-stitched shoes were all wrapped up in that vision of living well.

I used to scour the indices for recipes when planning dinner parties or potluck contributions when just out of college or in graduate school. I made all the soups for issues devoted to soups. Or muffins. There was at least one series on Chinese cooking that I found invaluable. Nowadays, I just go to the internet or to cookbooks I own and can't even remember the last time I tried a recipe from a new issue. I am not sure how much can be attributed to the magazine's short-comings and how much is due to the fact that I am older: more experienced and more set my ways. For example, there was a recent issue with contributions from D.C.'s own expert on Persian food. Surely there must be something interesting to cook among the dishes she offers.

*More on this later. I've written enough.

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FWIW, I like Cook's Illustrated. Differnet strokes, as they say...yes, CK can be obnoxious, but it really is helpful for me to have a reference to show the best way to cook things.

Cosign.

I don't agree with everything that's printed, but I think it's a great starting point when I compare recipes from other sources. I enjoy all the sections (Quick Tips, Equipment, Tasting Lab, Food Science, and (of course) the recipes) and find everything very informative. They not only give you the recommended recipe, but they also give you the recommended product brands (ie crushed tomatoes, cheese, balsamic vinegar, etc) to use with the recipe. Every issue seems to have something that makes me rethink how I prepare something. This issue, for instance, showed a technique for preparing thick cut steaks that started off with them in the oven and then finishing them with the sear on the stove top (instead of the other way around).

Or the Balsamic vinegar article that broke down the history and then listed the vinegars with the sugar and pH levels of each.

The_Problem_with_Thick_Cut_Steaks.pdfBalsamic.pdf

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the magazine perpetuated a Eurocentric version of the American Dream in which the life of a privileged class of well-educated, moneyed elite represented the ideal. . . .Exotic destinations, crown roasts, jeweled watches and hand-stitched shoes were all wrapped up in that vision of living well.
And this has changed, how? Mother Jones it ain't.

After subscribing for many years, I have decided to go green and borrow it (and a bunch of other over-priced glossy magazines) from my local library stacks instead. It's good for beach reading in the summer, and bathtub reading in the winter. Sets a good example for the kids too.

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And this has changed, how? Mother Jones it ain't.

After subscribing for many years, I have decided to go green and borrow it (and a bunch of other over-priced glossy magazines) from my local library stacks instead. It's good for beach reading in the summer, and bathtub reading in the winter. Sets a good example for the kids too.

Past tense used in reference to the "Olden Days", i.e. 1980s, early 90s. No intention of implying a reversal, though I'm inclined to believe ideologies are more conflicted and signs of class have altered over the years. The publisher's target reader appears to be from a younger, multicultural demographic that is thought to say "hot" all the time while consuming Style.

There certainly has been an effort to address "substantive" issues such as organic foods and farmer's markets. While appealing to someone with a social conscience, the move is for the sake of getting her to buy the issue rather than read it at the public library. I applaud your subversive action.

* * *

How are the recipes in Mother Jones? :blink:

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How are the recipes in Mother Jones? :blink:

Sometimes they are pretty good. Nothing groundbreaking, but I liked these ----> *

the move is for the sake of getting her to buy the issue rather than read it at the public library.

I think the move, if in fact there has been one, is for the sake of getting the reader to buy the magazine advertisers' products. I doubt if people who read Gourmet from the library are even on their radar as a target audience.

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Is it ridiculous of me to keep up my Gourmet subscription simply because of the Roadfood column? I have always loved Jane and Michael Stern and feel they add real substance (and true food writing) to the magazine. Still, I get annoyed that there is sometimes an issue or two where they aren't featured. It voids any interest in reading it if the Sterns aren't there.

Put me down as another Cook's Illustrated fan. Yes, Kimball is a twit (his editor's letters extolling his Vermont life make me sick), but he puts out a great magazine.

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Sometimes they are pretty good. Nothing groundbreaking, but I liked these ----> *
Well, I'll be darned!

* * *

Getting back to the current issue of Gourmet, there is a cute April's Fool Joke complete with a recipe. The text more or less: "Why, you may ask, are we instructing you how to prepare a soft-boiled egg and toast?" as lovingly photographed on the same page. "Because it's really dessert!!!" :blink:

Would you believe, cake and ice cream?

Sound familiar?

No credit is given whatsoever. The reader is left with the impression that the magazine's staff came up with the clever idea.

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I quit subscribing to both Gourmet and Bon Apetit years ago, when they started having those thick cardboard perfume ads stuck in the middle of an article about roast chicken. Do you realize how hard it is to think about a succulent, perfectly roasted chicken with gravy, when some cloyingly sweet perfume is wafting from the pages? If anything, they should have vanilla scented perfumes advertised in those magazines.

For years I've depended on Fine Cooking and (more recently) Cook's Illustrated. During the holidays, Fine Cooking gets a bit repetitive. During the rest of the year, though, they've got a lot of good ideas and recipes.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I do have a complimentary subscription to Bon Apetit right now, courtesy of Sur la Table for buying $25 worth of stuff one Saturday. It's not a bad magazine when it's free!

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Getting back to the current issue of Gourmet, there is a cute April's Fool Joke complete with a recipe. The text more or less: "Why, you may ask, are we instructing you how to prepare a soft-boiled egg and toast?" as lovingly photographed on the same page. "Because it's really dessert!!!" :blink:

Would you believe, cake and ice cream?

Sound familiar?

No credit is given whatsoever. The reader is left with the impression that the magazine's staff came up with the clever idea.

I noticed that too, and it does seem a complete ripoff of the Citronelle Dessert fashioned with less inventive ingredients.
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I quit subscribing to both Gourmet and Bon Apetit years ago, when they started having those thick cardboard perfume ads stuck in the middle of an article about roast chicken. Do you realize how hard it is to think about a succulent, perfectly roasted chicken with gravy, when some cloyingly sweet perfume is wafting from the pages? If anything, they should have vanilla scented perfumes advertised in those magazines.
All you have to do is call or send them an email, and they'll send you copies without the stinky inserts.

I find them a lot easier to read now - and Apprentice the paper-munching cat no longer tries to eat them. I was starting to think that catnip was a major ingredient in all the perfumes they were advertising. :blink:

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Holy Cow!

Yeah. They've maintained for a long time that Gourmet and Bon Appetit had different markets, but Gourmet was definitely the "higher end" of the two (marginal, since I'd consider both high-end publications), so I guess its revenue got hit the hardest.

Both have been incorporated into Epicurious.com's recipe banks for some time; I wonder if that will stick around?

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Ruth Reichl managed to turn Gourmet into a magazine worth reading. Bon Appetit is awful, IMO--simple-minded and visually uninteresting. They keep sending it to me, free, when I buy stuff at Sur La Table. Just to have more "readers" to attract advertisers, I assume. Many issues arrive that I never open. Gourmet under RR's influence, however, has developed an intelligent, worldly, less status conscious richy-rich folks point of view, plus all of those rustic, Nigel Slater-esque food photos. Too bad. I guess Ruth is headed for Food TV stardom, with her own show. click

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Any word on "Diary of a Foodie" which was co-branded with Gourmet? Is the show even on anymore? Last time I saw it was on the Create Network, which is a PBS off-shoot for food and travel type shows, and wasn't sure if it was a new episode or a re-run.

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What's strange is the lack of any kind of acknowledgement that the earth has moved on the epicurious.com website. I just took a look at the blogs sections and didn't see a word about this. Must be that they're in denial or something.

I was thinking that yesterday! They are themselves a Conde Nast site; maybe they aren't supposed to opine? (But you'd think they'd still link to the news items; after all, those are just factual.)

They even still have sidebar ads for subscriptions to both Gourmet and Bon Appetit.

ETA: Epicurious EIC Tanya Wenman Steel's blog about it went up at 3:25 p.m. EDT.

Edited by leleboo
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I was thinking that yesterday! They are themselves a Conde Nast site; maybe they aren't supposed to opine? (But you'd think they'd still link to the news items; after all, those are just factual.)

They even still have sidebar ads for subscriptions to both Gourmet and Bon Appetit.

ETA: Epicurious EIC Tanya Wenman Steel's blog about it went up at 3:25 p.m. EDT.

And as of two minutes ago the link to subscribe to Gourmet was still active. I wonder if I'll get a refund for the 5 or so years of my paid for subscription that is still valid.
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And as of two minutes ago the link to subscribe to Gourmet was still active. I wonder if I'll get a refund for the 5 or so years of my paid for subscription that is still valid.

You have to ask for it. Otherwise they'll just start sending you a different CN publication. It's happened to me with several publications over the years ... and, completely inexplicably (other than the fact that they probably just don't devote the people and time to figuring out who you are and what demographically you might like), they invariably send something totally uninteresting to you (I think my friend got a fashion mag when Domino shut down -- nope, not the same!).

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I just opened what I assume will be the final issue of Gourmet. Kind of surreal. Although a flyer in the bag with the mag says that this will be the last issue, and that my subscription will be converted to Bon Appetit(which I already subscribe to, so I suppose I'll start receiving two issues per month -- one for each eyeball), there is absolutely nothing in the content of the magazine itself about its termination. They even had those little postcard dropout bits inviting me to subscribe for 24 months and receive a really good deal. The Ruth Reichl letter from the Editor was about how her family celebrates Thanksgiving. No reflections on what the removal of an icon from the food world means or portends for the future, no acknowledgment of disappointment that they couldn't somehow soldier on (like the New York Times, for instance), no thanks to the loyal readers -- nada.

Now I realize that the corporate world has all kinds of strategies and rules for how you close out a product line -- no fanfare or darma which might attract attention to what most would deem a failure of sorts. I would have hoped, however, that there would be some modicum, even a sop, to humanity by some form of recognition that its been a great run, but all good things...

I also realize that this issue was probably put to bed and sent to be printed some time in September, before the decision to close-out was made, but still for as momentous an occasion as the publication of a final issue after 41 years one might imagine a special effort could be made to depart from the routine. I guess Conde Nast really is strapped, because they couldn't even manage to do that.

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(which I already subscribe to, so I suppose I'll start receiving two issues per month -- one for each eyeball)

Actually, this has happened to me before and you don't, in fact, start getting two magazines* (although when it happened to me, it was Hearst, not Conde Nast, so maybe that will be different). I would check with them -- they may have just applied the balance of your subscription to your BA one and thereby extended it; if not, or if you want a different publication, it's better to get them while they're fielding a lot of similar queries, rather than once it has passed and they forget Gourmet ever existed. :(

*Not that you don't know this, but I thought I'd mention anyway, particularly if others have the same experience.

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I just opened what I assume will be the final issue of Gourmet. Kind of surreal. Although a flyer in the bag with the mag says that this will be the last issue, and that my subscription will be converted to Bon Appetit(which I already subscribe to, so I suppose I'll start receiving two issues per month -- one for each eyeball), there is absolutely nothing in the content of the magazine itself about its termination. They even had those little postcard dropout bits inviting me to subscribe for 24 months and receive a really good deal. The Ruth Reichl letter from the Editor was about how her family celebrates Thanksgiving. No reflections on what the removal of an icon from the food world means or portends for the future, no acknowledgment of disappointment that they couldn't somehow soldier on (like the New York Times, for instance), no thanks to the loyal readers -- nada.

Now I realize that the corporate world has all kinds of strategies and rules for how you close out a product line -- no fanfare or darma which might attract attention to what most would deem a failure of sorts. I would have hoped, however, that there would be some modicum, even a sop, to humanity by some form of recognition that its been a great run, but all good things...

I also realize that this issue was probably put to bed and sent to be printed some time in September, before the decision to close-out was made, but still for as momentous an occasion as the publication of a final issue after 41 years one might imagine a special effort could be made to depart from the routine. I guess Conde Nast really is strapped, because they couldn't even manage to do that.

Ruth Reichl was interviewed on Fresh Air a couple of days ago, and she told Terry Gross that she would have done things very differently if she'd known in advance that the current issue would be the last. When asked for specifics, she talked about how her letter from the editor would have involved some reflections about the place that the magazine has had in the culture for all of these years. I think that the publisher pulled the plug without any warning so that there wouldn't have been enough time for people to mount a campaign to prevent it from closing.

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Ruth Reichl was interviewed on Fresh Air a couple of days ago, and she told Terry Gross that she would have done things very differently if she'd known in advance that the current issue would be the last. When asked for specifics, she talked about how her letter from the editor would have involved some reflections about the place that the magazine has had in the culture for all of these years. I think that the publisher pulled the plug without any warning so that there wouldn't have been enough time for people to mount a campaign to prevent it from closing.

I'm sure that Reichl would have done it a lot differently had she been given the opportunity. In the end, Conde Nast chose neither a bang nor a whimper, nor any real grace.
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Ruth Reichl was interviewed on Fresh Air a couple of days ago, and she told Terry Gross that she would have done things very differently if she'd known in advance that the current issue would be the last. When asked for specifics, she talked about how her letter from the editor would have involved some reflections about the place that the magazine has had in the culture for all of these years. I think that the publisher pulled the plug without any warning so that there wouldn't have been enough time for people to mount a campaign to prevent it from closing.

Well it is not like she didn't have any warning.

Also, I should clarify a point Zora made about free subscriptions, publishers report quarterly numbers to the Audit Bureau of Circulations that advertisers use to determine what rates they will pay, and they must break down their circulation by many categories, and free subscriptions and free issues are just one category, and it does not move the needle towards higher advertising rates. Reporting false numbers can get a company into quite a bit of trouble if they use the inflated numbers in any financial statements and can be sued by advertisers if it is found that they lied (ask the Chicago Sun Times or the Dallas Morning News about the latter). I am sure what they are hoping for is that you will like their product and maintain your subscription.

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With apologies to Monty Python, Gourmet appears not to be dead yet. Gourmet Live coming later this year to an iPad near you.

Yay! I actually like reading magazines on the ipad while I am sure in some way (energy consumption, batteries, more products polluting the earth) it doesn't help anything I like the paperlessness. Hopefully they come up with an easy way to save recipes to your favorites in another app (epicurious app perhaps) that would be cool.

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With apologies to Monty Python, Gourmet appears not to be dead yet. Gourmet Live coming later this year to an iPad near you.

I'm waiting for the 2nd generation of the iPad -- when they've worked out more of the bugs and added more features, but this news makes me even more eager to buy it.

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sorry, but I'm just not that interested without Ruth Reichl's sensibility at the helm.

I think that's right. My hunch is that this is little more than Conde Nast's attempt to generate revenue out of Gourmet's sizable archive of material. I would be surprised if any of the new content offered is particularly good.

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One of the things I picked up at the Fall picnic was a stack of Gourmet magazines from the late 80's - early 90's. Each issue is full of exciting recipes, beautiful photos, and wonderful storytelling from Gerald Asher, Fred Ferretti, Jane & Michael Stern, Kemp Menefie, and perhaps my all-time favorite food writer, the late Laurie Colwin. This is the publication that made me dream of traveling the world, and inspired me to become a cook.

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