As I write this I am looking at my pristine final issue of “Gourmet” the Magazine of Good Living from November 2009. And per usual, a crispy, brown roast turkey is on the front cover in time for American Thanksgiving tables.
If you think I have come late to the party, well you might be right! This post could have been written in November, 2009 when the last issue rolled off the presses but I wasn’t blogging then!
What I have noticed over the years is the lack of writing of the exceptional quality that appeared monthly upon the pages of Gourmet and to some extent, Bon Appetit. Each month I relished sitting down with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine to savor the long, unhurried articles and essays that fueled the imagination in so many ways. Even if, in the “olden days,” Gourmet’s recipes were terrific the format was very awkward! I am sure there are a lot of us out here who kept every issue of both magazines! When I was disposing of all my magazines after a flood in our home in 2003, I came across an early one with a story about Bornholm, Denmark. I had completely forgotten about that article and it brought me up short, reminding me of where my father was born! I wish I had that article now and many of the others to leaf through, re-visiting some of my favourites. These days, when my copy of Bon Appetit arrives, it’s a quick look through “foodie porn” to check out the recipes. Not a lot of lingering going on!
Both magazines played a large part in my “food education” and Gourmet was my window to the world that I never thought I would get a chance to see. Gourmet’s articles Specialities de la Maison, both London Journal and Paris Journal, Gerald Asher’s Wine Journal, Along the Avenues, anything by Michael Kenyon, Jane and Michael Stern’s Two For The Road were some of my favourites. I still smile when I think of articles by Laurie Colwin like A Harried Cook’s Guide to Some Fast Food and Faith Heller Willinger’s recollections of her “muse” Torquato Innocenti, a local farmer whose produce she would buy near where she lived in Italy. Who knew, years later, that I would have the opportunity to go to Tuscany and be totally bowled over by how produce is respected and treated! That is what I call a lesson well learned! Among other favourites: Joseph Wechsberg’s “Demels,” Samuel Chamberlains’ “Clementine in the Kitchen” or James Villas’ essay “Lucius Beebe: The Last Magnifico.” And, I don’t know where I would be if I had not discovered Elizabeth David in a story or MFK Fisher by reading “Three Swiss Inns,” or Pat Conroy’s “The Romance of Umbria” or for that matter Jim, aka James Beard’s fantastic ham, baked in a cloud of Madiera steam! I still cook that ham!
I still get my monthly issues of Bon Appetit, even though I miss Barbara Fairchild at the helm, to keep in touch with trends in the U.S. And thanks to the magazine we would not have discovered the pleasures to be had at Da Delfina and La Bottega di Volpaia in Tuscany, nor places to go to in London and Rome. We ended up in Pigneto, Rome for lunch one day because of a write up! We enjoyed a number of excellent restaurants last spring following their recommendations, when in Rome last spring! So, at least all is not lost…but the writing, I for one, think it was a sad day when those decisions were made!
And then there was the old “Cuisine” magazine -remember the Dagwood cover that was totally revolutionary from the staid food-pictures-only covers? …..and honorable mention to “The Pleasure of Cooking” mags by Cuisinart.
Nothing topped Gourmet of course for the quality of writing. Kind of like Playboy in the day…..”I’m not reading for the photos I’m reading for the articles” 😉
Unfortunately I never bought any of the “Cuisine” magazines but now wish I had! In those days I was really “into” teaching myself how to cook French food from Julia’s Mastering books and so Gourmet was right up my alley! Perhaps it was a good thing I did not have a subscription to Cuisine or I would have been up to my eyeballs with even more magazines I could not bear to part with until water forced me to!
I was addicted in the day and bought every magazine that hit the stands. Ridiculous!
I still have all my old Saveurs and a good junk of Gourmets and Cuisines…..
One day soon though…..
How far back do your Gourmet mags. go….I would like to have some from the ’78, ’79 and ’80 just for the heck of it. Don’t you just hate moving though…having to lug all those boxes of magazines…can’t tell you how many times I did that!