Monday, October 5, 2009

Where do I buy mourning clothes in San Francisco?

I'm back from vacation and working in San Francisco for a few days. This means I'm three hours behind the East Coast news cycle, and so this morning my email and Twitter feed were positively packed with messages about one tragic thing: the closing of Gourmet magazine.

To put it simply, I'm crushed. I've read Gourmet religiously for the past five years or so, and have fallen completely in love with its open-minded approach to food, its passion for travel domestic and foreign, and its gorgeous writing and photography. The current incarnation of Gourmet owes most of its soul and much of its aesthetic to the wild-haired, obscenely-talented Ruth Reichl, who left her job as the New York Times' restaurant critic to take up the helm at the (soon-to-be) late magazine.

Under her guidance, Gourmet became a publication for those truly passionate about creating and consuming food. Less chef-obsessed than Food & Wine, but more worldly than Bon Appetit, Gourmet emphasized home cooking but never forgot about the restaurant world.

Many people have criticized the magazine's photography as cold or hard; I disagree, and heartily. The simple, spare aesthetic on show at Gourmet far outpaced most food magazines in its sophistication and pure illustration of good, homemade food.

This blackberry brown sugar cake is one of my favorite Gourmet recipes of all time. I shall be making it in the weeks to come, as a sort of remembrance. While I can't wait to follow the next steps of Gourmet's immensely talented staff, that anticipation hardly softens the blow.

Now, excuse me while I go sniffle in the corner for a bit.


racheld said...

I hate to see the Old Dear go, as well. I just rolled my chair over to the magazine shelves, and finger-pinched by fives, counting up 334, just by guess.

And I guess that will have to do.
Some of these aren't even pretty, being the dark-brown/burgundy photography so popular in the Seventies, and very unflattering to food. Wine-dark seas are alluringly evocative---but a turkey in that shade is as unappetizing as one of those little foil pans of "turkey loaf."

And I WELL remember your making this cake---it's one of the best photos (bested only perhaps by the sunlit hand with the champagne glass) which ever appeared on eG.

Dolce said...

I have seen that! Four magazines are going down the drain :( What a loss...

Meg Blocker said...

@racheld: I can't believe what a good memory you have! That photo of my friend Hall's hand was such a lucky shot - we were drinking a bottle of Veuve rose and I happened to glance over and see the sun slanting through the window at just the right angle.

@Dolce: I know! It's criminal. I understand that it's purely a business decision, but it seems so...wrong.

Anonymous said...

Hey Meg, I used to subscribe to Gourmet, F&W, Bon Appetit & Savuer. I did cancel Gourmet a few years ago mainly because it seemed to become to commercial. That only my opinion.

I think Savuer iw one of the best food magazines. I'm sure you've read it. If not give it a try.

Meg Blocker said...

@Mitch: I DO subscribe to Saveur, and I love it - it's right up there with Gourmet for me, for its travel writing especially.

It's funny you mention BA and F&W - I think of both of those as more commerical than Gourmet. While Gourmet definitely struck me as the most aspirational of the three, it was also more focused on the home cook than, say, F&W. It was also the one that published authors like David Foster Wallace (who wrote Consider The Lobster for them) and Colman Andrews (one of Saveur's founders and a legend in the food writing world). I agree that it had gotten distinctly more upmarket (the must-haves they featured were often way out of my price range), but I think BA and F&W are just as much - if not more - commercial.

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