The blogosphere has already been filled with mournful odes to Gourmet, but I can’t help but add my own. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 24 hours, by now you’ve heard that Conde Nast is shuttering Gourmet, the country’s oldest food magazine, along with Modern Bride, Elegant Bride and Cookie.
Many people thought that it would be the simpler, more pedestrian Bon Appetite that would end up on Conde Nast’s chopping block. Instead, it was the upscale and historic Gourmet – even the powerful force of editor Ruth Reichl couldn’t save it from the bloody carnage that is the state of magazine ad sales.
I grew up with Gourmet; my mother has been a subscriber for decades. I remember flipping through the issues that were fanned out on our living room coffee table. I never read the articles, but headed straight for the recipes. I loved reading those recipes. I loved cataloging their exotic ingredients, wondering what I would adapt to suit my own tastes, gasping at certain recipes that looked completely ridiculous.
But I have to admit – I don’t have any memories of actually making anything from Gourmet. It was a magazine that I loved to read, but mostly I regarded it as a beautifully shot piece of food fantasy. The recipes were so complex (who will really make a ten course tapas menu for New Years Eve?), so detailed, and so extravagant, that I was never actually drawn to make one of them.
No, I preferred the more budget friendly, practical Bon Appétit. When I moved to DC four years ago, I subscribed to Bon Appétit as a symbolic act to usher in the era of my adult life. Bon Appétit taught to use cumin in my improvised Mexican dishes. Even when I use Epicurious, I usually go for the Bon Appétit recipes because they won’t require an expensive grocery run.
Gourmet was decidedly upscale. Its recipes featured ingredients I couldn’t afford, its travel pieces featured places I would never go to, and its favorite housewares were decidedly out of my price range. I can see why Conde Nast eventually had to bow to economic reality and cancel the publication that was most out of line with our current economic environment. The era of cooking with saffron and truffles is out. The era of ice cream sandwiches and roast chicken is in.
Still, it’s depressing that a publication with such a rich history and strong writing had to close. I actually recently subscribed to Gourmet on my own – for the first time ever. I’m sad to see it go – and I’m even sadder to think of what Conde Nast will replace my subscription with. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to be Teen Vogue, since they replaced my Domino subscription with Glamour (i.e., the magazine that makes me sad to be a woman).
But, um, Modern Bride, Elegant Bride and Cookie? Good riddance.