Posted by: dinaguillen | October 12, 2009

Goodbye Gourmet Magazine. I’ll Miss You.

IMG_0004I’m in mourning.  I’m sure by now, foodies everywhere have heard the abysmal news:  Conde Nasty has decided to shut down 68-year-old Gourmet Magazine.  It is especially a sad loss for gourmet cooking clubs everywhere who learned new techniques, and got much of their inspiration, recipes and theme ideas from the brilliant pages of this great magazine. 

It feels like everyone is talking about it.  Many friends, family, and co-workers have asked me if “I heard the shocking news?”  Even my all time favorite chef and author, Anthony Bourdain, who said that Gourmet gave him his first writing job, had something to say about it: “It’s the center of gravity, a major planet that’s just disappearing. There’s been a lot of speculation about this happening, but I’m still stunned.” 

There’s even someone out there trying to save Gourmet Magazine – to follow the efforts of this great (albeit, I think futile) endeavor, go to  http://twitter.com/savegourmet

Somehow, I ridiculously feel like the demise of Gourmet magazine is all my fault.  At the very least, I’m partly to blame.  I was an avid subscriber until two years ago when I cancelled my subscription while in the midst of writing Cooking Club.  I couldn’t catch up with all the cooking magazines arriving in my mailbox, so reluctantly I chose to cancel a few of them, Gourmet being one of the casualties.  But I would find myself flipping through the magazine while visiting the bookstore, and more often than not, purchasing the copy I was perusing because there was some idea or some recipe I could use for my next cooking club gathering.  As someone who reviews five recipes before coming up with my own version, at the very least Gourmet was a great resource to help me create some great meals.

I have never been able to toss out my piles of Gourmet, and I have spent the last week since hearing the news flipping through many of them again, especially the holiday issues (November’s issue is the last one coming out – at least we have one more to enjoy).  It is because of magazines like Gourmet that cooking clubs like mine and others formed and flourished, giving us the knowledge and confidence to try new ingredients from around the world, as well as new techniques and cooking gadgets that we would not have otherwise been introduced to. 

Gourmet’s death is a sad reminder that print publications are closing down all around us. It is so easy to download a recipe from the internet, but there was something so exciting about opening my mailbox and finding my new copy of Gourmet, going through the pages, enjoying the beautiful photography, the great travel stories, the gourmet recipes that inspired me to spend many joyful afternoons cooking away.

I’m the first to admit I love the ease and accessibility of recipes on the internet, but the closing of Gourmet makes me wonder whose next.  Is the writing on the wall? Is traditional print media going extinct?  I mean, when we first heard from Gourmet Editor Ruth Reichl after the sad news, it was via a Twitter: “Thank you all SO much for this outpouring of support. It means a lot. Sorry not to be posting now, but I’m packing. We’re all stunned, sad.” Reichl wasn’t even given advanced notice – she found out the same day we did.

At least we’ll be seeing more of Reichl’s work soon.  Her new television show, Gourmet’s Adventures with Ruth, airs on October 17 on public television stations around the country.  It’s a great premise, especially for those cooking clubs who love to plan their themes based on regional cuisines.  She takes some of her actor foodie friends and visits the best cooking schools on five continents.  Episodes include traveling to Blackberry Farm in Tenessee with actress Frances McDormand and showcasing Southern recipes, Marrakech, Morocco with Lorraine Bracco while exploring couscous and tagines,  Bath, England with Dianne Wiest for tips on making homemade bread, fishing in Seattle with Tom Skerritt, and delving into New York City’s Indian community with Jeffrey Wright.

Best of all, I hear Reichl is planning on writing about her days at Gourmet, something she said she couldn’t do until she left the magazine – and that is something I’m really looking forward to.

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