What sad news. It is the end of an era. I learned to cook from Gourmet Magazine. When I was a graduate student at Yale, with the first kitchen to call my own, I would look forward each month to selecting new recipes to cook. I daydreamed about trips to countries I had yet to visit, restaurants I would put on the list of places to try, if I ever got there. In my tiny student apartment I felt like the soul of elegance, having prepared senegalese soup, duck a l’orange, crabmeat Maryland, coquilles St Jacques, and sole Normande. What Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking was for many, Gourmet was for me.
I was thrilled when I saved enough money to buy their first cookbook, a weighty tome in a brown cover with gold print. The pages on my 1958 editions of the Gourmet Cookbook, Volumes One and Two and the 1963 Gourmet Menu cookbook are stained with the juices of recipes I have cooked for years. Gateau Rolla, gougeres, madeleines, souffle Rothchild, croquembuche, caviar hors d’oeuvre roll, the Christmas roast goose stuffed with fruit, so many of my family’s holiday favorites came from those pages. Looking through these books today, the recipes still seem inviting and some, even ahead of their time.
The power of their restaurant reviews was formidable. When Square One was reviewed by Caroline Bates, people would come into my restaurant clutching the review in their hands. They trusted Gourmet to tell them where to go and what was memorable on the menu.
I must confess I did not enjoy the magazine as much when Ruth Reichl took it over. The tone changed, the recipes became more casual, and there were fewer recipes I wanted to try. But it is sad to see a classic fade away. We will mourn the loss of Gourmet magazine. It was a culinary touchstone.