Sunday, October 18, 2009

RIP Gourmet Magazine

It was a sad day this week when Conde Nast announced that it was shuttering Gourmet magazine, the grand dame of the culinary publications. I managed to find a copy of what will be its last issue still on the newsstand. Many bloggers and others have tried to parse what caused the demise of such a venerable media institution.

I would like to raise my hand as one of those who might have been responsible. I just never fell in love with it and, instead, have always subscribed to other publications, such as its sister Conde Nast title Bon Appetit. Like others, I've also turned increasingly to the Internet for recipes, research, and inspiration. I'm a big fan of epicurious.com, which pulls together both the BA and Gourmet recipe archives. Since college, I've also been a follower of Food & Wine.

The other cooking magazines I get every month are the British ones. I also get La Cucina Italian (in English), which I am on the fence about subscribing to every year. Then, there's the odd issue here and there of Cook's Illustrated. I also decided this year to pick up Saveur. After their burger issue, where they had a huge photo of a Shake Shack special that just made me drool (not attractive on the subway), I have to say that was money well spent. Their lamb issue also made me pull out some of those recipes, too, just waiting for it gets cooler to put together some of those dishes.

Aside from a few on-off items, Gourmet just never did that for me. Even this last issue, I sort of felt 'meh' about it. Overall, it had lots of pretty pictures and articles about places I wish I could afford to go to, but it didn't seem to be practical in the way that the issues that I read on a regular basis are. I'd see places listed in the others for NYC, San Fran, Chicago, DC, and other cities that just seemed accessible. Like other higher-end publications in the CN stable, it just didn't seem that relevant to me or my life.

This was a criticism leveled by others as well, too. While I am sorry to see something fold that had been a keystone of culinary journalism in the United States, I'm just not sure that it had or could reshape itself for the current climate or what our future might be. You had a good ride, Gourmet, but as they say in "Heathers," 'There's a new sheriff in town.'

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