Sunday, October 11, 2009

something on the back-burner

more than a magazine, it was like a trusted friend, a story-teller, a community

Last Monday, much to everyone’s surprise, Conde Nast announced that it was shutting down Gourmet magazine.

I don’t really know what to say about this because I have written and rewritten my thoughts on this over and over. I thought how ironic it was that my last recipe and the next one are both recipes from the October issue. I never found the magazine boring or stale – it always offered me recipes I wanted to try.

By now, we’re all read about a dozen op/ed pieces on Gourmet’s demise and its unexpected shutdown. I don’t think I can say anything really substantive other than it was more than just a magazine for those of us who subscribed and couldn’t wait for the next issue to arrive in the mail. It wasn’t just a publication, telling us how to sear scallops, or make delicate genoise, or raise awareness about the plight of tomato workers.

Gourmet, to me at least, was something iconic – the very first magazine I subscribed to at the age of 14. Gourmet is my time-capsule; it holds my memories, my transition to college, and to a college graduate. I’ve cooked many a Thanksgiving dinner armed with nothing more than a trusty Gourmet at my side. And while we could :talk about ad revenue and costs for days on end, I guarantee you this: not one of the McKinsey consultants who made this recommendation had a subscription to the magazine. Nor did they read issue after issue, saving recipes, clipping meaningful articles, discussing the content with friends. To try and sum up Gourmet’s importance on its readers, the food community and general history (of how we eat, live, think, dream – because it was a reflection of that too and so much can be gleaned about a people, a nation, from its eating habits) would be like trying to sum up someone in an elegy. You just cannot. Gourmet’s impact on my life cannot be described or measured. It simply was. And I’ll treasure it forever.

Well – a few friends and I were so dismayed by the shuttering of the magazine, that a couple of folks and I have decided put something together – a cooking and writing project, so to speak, to honor Gourmet’s 68 year legacy. Certainly, a publisher can shut down magazines, fire its staff and deprive us of getting that glossy in the mail. But – they can’t stop us from cooking; and they can’t stop us from keeping Gourmet’s memory and spirit alive. They can kick us out of their offices, but they can’t kick us out of our kitchens.

If you’re curious to know more, or to get involved, shoot me an email (on my About page) and I’ll add you to the distribution list. While this isn’t a resurrection per se, consider it an homage, a way for us to all come together and celebrate something we all loved and will continue to relish.

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8 Comments

  • 1
    kim said:

    Aw man, that’s some sad news. Gourmet isn’t that easy to find here (Belgium) but when it did cross my path I picked it up, I think it is a great magazine. I’m looking forward to your project!

    October 12, 2009 3:33 am
  • 2
    The Roman Nose said:

    What really stinks is when my husband and I moved back to the U.S from Belgium, I accidentally left 5 years of Gourmet (and other publications) in a cabinet over our broken-down refrigerator. I loved Gourmet THAT MUCH that I had send them overseas with all of our other belongings!

    Thank you for your commentary regarding the demise of Gourmet. As a child, my mother would cook from the pages of Gourmet and share ideas and inspiration with her neighbors/friends. The members of this group called themselves “The Gourmet Group”. To this day, they are the best of friends and continue to challenge and inspire each other.

    Little did I know that these childhood experiences would shape me into someone who would follow her stomach wherever it would lead her. I have been working in restaurants since the age of 17, worked at Cook’s Illustrated and as a food stylist. My dream was always to work for Gourmet. Sadly, that dream is out the window!

    I am very interested in your cooking/writing project and would love to learn more once you get things up and running.

    Cheers!

    October 12, 2009 9:10 am
  • 3
    Whitney said:

    I can’t wait to get involved in our Gourmet homage.

    :)

    October 12, 2009 12:42 pm
  • 4
    Shannalee said:

    What a lovely tribute, and I love what you’re planning to do. Looking forward to it!

    October 12, 2009 7:21 pm
  • 5
    Mimi said:

    Thank you so much for your post. I have been mourning Gourmet for days but didn’t know how to put it into words. Your post said everything I wanted to say and more.

    October 13, 2009 2:07 pm
  • 6
    Bonbon said:

    I agree with all said. I soooo miss my Gourmet. I have so many that I culled out the holiday issues and kept them. I mourn the giving away of all the others which I enjoyed so much. Please DO continue with your Back Burner Project!

    November 14, 2009 10:32 am
  • 7
    Deanna said:

    You may consider binding your Goumet issues into yearly books. My neighbor new I was a foodie and gave.me his mothers collection of 20 years. I am a catering manager at a private university and display my collection proudly. It is so nice to have these books to reference recipes and ideas.

    February 10, 2012 10:26 am
  • 8
    Radish said:

    Deanna – what a great idea!! I’ll have to put that on my to-do!

    February 10, 2012 10:30 am

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