Gourmet cover photograph by Roland Bello. Food styling by Susan Spungen.
So I was happily perusing photographer Nicole Hill's blog when I came upon the news that Gourmet magazine is getting the ax. I've been despondent ever since. Not that I'm a gourmet cook, but I read this magazine and salivate over the beautiful photographs on a monthly basis. It made me feel like I could cook the recipes if I wanted to. Or I could just read about the food and pretend that I had just eaten a good meal, even though usually I look at the current issue while snarfing a sandwich made with questionable lunch meat.
If it weren't for Gourmet, I would not know about photographers like John Kernick, Ditte Isager, and Romulo Yanes, whose photographs have served as my inspiration for many a shoot. I also would not know Jane and Michael Stern, a foodie couple who travel the nation in search of a good meal (my idea of the perfect retirement). Every time I read their Road Food column I want to hop in the car and drive to some far-away locale to have lunch in a diner where a waitress named Ronda will take my order.
And what would I do without editor Ruth Reichl's letters? It was because of this magazine that I read all of Reichl's books, which also inspired me to find a source for local, organic produce. (See my blog page listed as "All Season's Market.") You know what the worst thing is? It took me a year to decide to treat myself to a subscription, and now it's gone kaput. I only have ten issues to my name. If only I were not such a tightwad, I would have subscribed sooner.
Conde Nast, the publisher of Gourmet, also put the kabosh on some bride magazines (not a big loss, if you ask me) and Cookie, a parenting magazine with some cool pictures, but totally unrealistic ideas for children. Take, for example, one issue where a toddler modeled a sports jacket that cost somewhere in the neighborhood of two hundred dollars. Yeah, right. Like I'm going to spend that much money on clothing for a person who has no bladder control and could spew his dinner all over his designer outfit with nary a thought to the cleaning bill. Somehow, I think parents will survive without this publication.
But Gourmet is a big blow. According to Time.com, Conde Nast decided to toss Gourmet due to advertising losses. Seems that rivals like Rachael Ray and The Food Network attract more non-food advertising. And though Gourmet has won three National Magazine Awards, it's expensive to produce. With a recession on, even big guys like Conde Nast pay attention to the bottom line and make cuts where it makes the most sense. I get it. I really do. But I don't like it.
The thing that bothers me most is the idea that the recession has affected everything, even my favorite magazine--a magazine that's been around for nearly seventy years, mind you. If a publication like that can get the boot, anyone and anything's fair game in this messed-up economy. Along with a sense of stability, the recession has now stolen my sense of fantasy. (I guess a lot of people can say that, but for different reasons.) I escaped to Gourmet to get away from thoughts about the recession. Sure, it's known as a "luxury magazine," geared more for those who love to travel and eat good food, and who have the means to do so. Though I'm not in that category, I still loved pretending I was. But apparently even the wealthy have stopped buying frivolous things like well-designed, well-written magazines. Now we're all about practicality. Soups instead of steak, and tater-tot casserole instead of cassoulet. These things are not new to me. Gourmet, on the other hand, was.
The only thing that consoles me is the thought that I still have Martha Stewart.
For now, anyway.